Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp In Talks With Netflix On Movie Deal

By Nancy Tartaglione, Peter White

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp is in talks with Netflix to produce a number of original movies for the streaming platform. This comes after the French studio said it was weighing its options as it struggles under recent losses, stemming in part from a costly gamble on 2017’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets.

The Fifth Element helmer would direct the films, branded as Netflix originals, and produced for around $30M. The scenario could also see the SVOD service acquire a stake in EuropaCorp’s library which includes such valuable titles as the Taken and Transporter movies. Deadline confirmed talks which were first reported by sister publication Variety.

If Netflix were to buy into Besson’s firm, it would mark only the company’s second content acquisition, having bought Millarworld, the comic book publisher founded by Mark Millar which has spawned stories such as Kick-Ass, Kingsman and Old Man Logan, last August.

Netflix in bed with Europa on a production basis presents one particular challenge when it comes to France. The country has an arcane windows system whereby movies are not available on streaming until 36 months after their theatrical release. Besson remains a theatrical draw, so a question mark would hang over how such an arrangement would play out.

News of Netflix entering the picture comes at the end of a busy month for Europa. It was earlier reported that Franco-Tunisian businessman Tarak Ben Ammar, a board member at Vivendi and The Weinstein Company, where he is currently helping to complete a sale amid the wreckage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, was among the potential EuropaCorp suitors. Deadline understands it is unlikely he would outright buy the company. Multiple other players have expressed interest in EuropaCorp in a manner of ways including via investments or certain catalogue asset acquisitions.

EuropaCorp confirmed that it had “started discussions with various financial and/or business partners in order to reinforce its financial capacities” following the initial reports with a number of international investors thought to be kicking the tires of the Paris-headquartered company, although none of the potential partners has exclusivity.

The studio posted an $83M net loss in its six-month financial results in December, attributed to the underperformance of its slate, which was largely anchored around Besson’s $200M-$210M sci-fi opus Valerian, as well as the Tom Hanks movie The Circle and the period pic Their Finest. That loss followed a $136M loss for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.

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