As it gears up for the release of epic summer sci-fi Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has posted a loss of 119.9M euros ($136M) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017. The French studio said this morning that the loss is “considerably higher than past years” and the result of an underperforming slate.
Titles that hit the bottom line hard include 9 Lives, Shut In, Miss Sloane and The Circle which in the U.S. went through Europa and Relativity’s joint distribution venture RED. Europa says there were more than 100M euros ($114M) in U.S. distribution costs which ticket sales failed to offset.
In January this year, after months of tension and strained relations between Europa and Relativity, Europa made a three-year deal with STX Motion Pictures Group to release and market its upcoming films domestically. That includes the Besson-directed Valerian which, at around $180M, is the most fiscally — and creatively — ambitious movie in the hit-making helmer’s career.
Europa further is realigning its content strategy, focusing the future slate on what has traditionally been the company’s strong suit: action and sci-fi (see Taken, Lucy, The Fifth Element). Greater emphasis will also be placed on productions written and directed by Besson.
Valerian releases in the U.S. on July 21 and in France on July 26. An almost giddy Besson showed extended footage of the Cara Delavigne/Dane DeHaan space movie at CineEurope in Barcelona last week. The costly passion project has some of Europa’s risk mitigated with over 70% of the budget covered by offshore deals. Besson in May told Deadline that if the film gets up into Lucy territory ($460M+) “then we’re fine.”
In the plus column for Europa, consolidated revenues were 151.7M euros ($172M), a 3% increase in revenues driven by foreign sales and SVOD and TV sales in the U.S. Revenue from theatrical distribution in France and the U.S. was 13.7M euros ($15.6M), up 40.1% thanks to a larger volume of titles.
The studio also closed multiple transactions during the last fiscal year in response to the underperformance including restructuring its first and second lien debt, raising $60M in equity from FF Motion Invest and the sale of its multiplexes for more than 20M euros.
Along with Valerian, the 2017/2018 lineup includes Taxi 5, which starts shooting next month, and the second season of NBC series Taken. Europa also has several French-language titles in various stages of production including comedy CoeXister, by and starring Fabrice Eboué; Eva directed by Benoît Jacquot and starring Isabelle Huppert; Olivier Marchal’s Carbone; and Je Vais Mieux directed by Jean-Pierre Améris.
On the TV side along with Taken are French-language series including an adaptation of Mary Higgins Clark’s No Place Like Home for France 3. Europa is also in development on a TV adaptation of feature Crimson Rivers and of UK drama Doctor Foster.