Fremantle’s Andrea Scrosati on How Having Five Movies at Cannes Reflects the Company’s Mantra of ‘Being the Place That Creatives Call Home’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle’s group COO and CEO for continental Europe, is understandably proud that the company has landed five titles in the Cannes official selection, three of which – “Kinds of Kindness,” by Yorgos Lanthimos, Paolo Sorrentino’s “Parthenope” and Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s “Limonov” — are in competition.

The other two are Rungano Nyoni’s “On becoming a Guinea Fowl” and Ariane Labed’s “September Says,” both in Un Certain Regard.

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“The incredible diversity of these titles – even in terms of the geographies and cultures they’re based on – is exactly the result of our strategy,” he tells Variety.

Scrosati, who is the architect of Fremantle’s expansion under a business model comprising a cluster of companies across Europe and beyond, discussed how he’s navigating a changing marketplace ahead of Cannes.

It looks like you’re scaling up on the film side. Why?

I think this comes from a very precise strategy that was obviously discussed and led by a strong kind of support, but also vision, from our shareholder. In this kind of business, you need to be a portfolio business. You need to diversify. You can’t have all your eggs in one basket. Fremantle’s evolution in the past year has been to go from being primarily an unscripted company to now being a portfolio company. We still have incredible relevance in the unscripted world, but now we also have scripted dramas and of course movies and documentaries.

What’s driving the diversification? Is it demand?

A fundamental component is talent relations. A lot of talents like to do different things. They might want to do a TV drama, a feature film or a documentary. They might even want to do unscripted. I recently had a conversation with a very famous U.S. director who wants to do an unscripted show. So for us to be the place where they can do all of this in the same home, in the same place, is our goal. The mission statement for Fremantle is being the place that creatives want to call home.

Wildside and The Apartment – that are respectively behind “Limonov” and “Parthenope” – have gone through some changes recently. Can you talk to me about what is happening in Italy right now with Fremantle? There have also been some new acquisitions.

In the case of Wildside and The Apartment, the two founding partners have left and created a new company that however has a co-production deal with Fremantle. That means they are attached as producers, not just to the shows that were in production while this happened, but also to future projects. So, in terms of actually having access to the production capabilities of Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani, we are in a very good place. But, of course, we also managed to bring new leadership to both companies and I think Sonia Rovai at Wildside and Annamaria Morelli at The Apartment will bring a different cultural approach, enriching our portfolio and our talent relations. In terms of talents, we are continuing to work with all the talents with whom we were working before.

What happened to prompt Mario and Lorenzo to go off on their own?

That is a question you should ask them, not me. That said, this is a world where businesses are led by people, and we always see this and recognize it as a crucial component. And every person in this business, depending on the stage of their life, or what they want to do, also decides the structure and the way they want to do it. Mario Lorenzo had sold, previous to my arrival, Wildside to Fremantle. And there was a classic process where Fremantle then grew in the equity ownership and became full owners of Wildside and The Apartment, that actually was a company we launched together four years ago. I think what they wanted was to go back and be entrepreneurs. That’s absolutely legitimate. But again, I think the fact we have basically signed a deal that will go on for years and years shows that this was done on very good terms.

Talk to me about Fremantle’s new Italian acquisitions.

Fremantle recently acquired the Asacha Media Group, which means that in Italy we added the label Picomedia that is very active in the scripted space. They produce probably the most successful YA show in Italy, “The Sea Beyond,” that is on RAI and on Netflix. They also have Uberto Pasolini’s new movie “The Return” with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes. And we also bought Stand by Me, that is now also active now in the scripted space.

Look, I think at the end of the day, the Fremantle strategy in the past years has always been the same. Diversifying, creating a portfolio business. Creating a place where top talent – and I definitely put producers in this category – feel it’s the right home for them to produce their projects, to get the infrastructure support that comes from a global group operating in 26 countries. But, at the same time, maintaining their cultural and creative singularity. That is the key element for us.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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