Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp Reports $95M Loss, Reiterates Focus On Action/Sci-Fi

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp saw a spike in Paris trading Thursday morning after reporting reduced losses in its consolidated results for the year ended March 31, 2018. The producer and distributor saw a net loss of 82.5M euros ($95.4M) for the year, down from the record 119.9M euros ($136M) loss it suffered in the comparable 2016/2017 period.

The company also increased cash flow to 105M euros. Although it was a costly gamble that severely under-performed, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets was largely responsible for the uptick, as were the beginnings of a restructure as Europa shifts focus to action and sci-fi properties that have historically made up its core.

Last year at this time, Europa was getting ready to release Valerian, a $200M opus, having screened portions of it at the CineEurope exhibition conference in mid-June (execs did not attend this year). The film then went on to gross about $226M worldwide.

At the same time, the company said it would re-focus on action and sci-fi pics and has in the past year implemented measures to cut overheads. That includes selling off its music publishing and French-speaking TV series activities. Savings for fiscal 2017 were 15.9M euros ($18.4M).

Europa put the $95.4M loss down to poor performance of its English-language slate in the States where box office failed to offset distribution costs. Titles within the fiscal year include Valerian and Tom Hanks-starrer The Circle.

Europa has been looking for investors to prop up or buy out the company and is cutting a third of its French staff. As it explores options, the studio has gone through a series of executive shifts in the past year as well. Most recently Marie-Laure Montironi departed, following U.S. film production president Lisa Ellzey and CEO Marc Shmuger.

In May, Europa reported annual revenues of 223.7M euros. The consolidated figures reported today indicate revenues of 226.5M ($262M), a 49% increase from the year prior that was driven by all media sales of Valerian. International sales were worth 76.7M euros ($88.7M) and responsible for about 34% of total turnover.

Television and SVOD results in the U.S. and France equaled 40.9M euros ($47.3M), up from 29.9M euros ($34.6M) in 2016/2017. Revenue from theatrical distribution in the U.S. and France was 39.6M euros ($45.8M). Revenue from TV Series was 24.6M euros ($28.5M).

Looking ahead, Europa is keen to focus on the development of content more closely aligned with the company’s historic successes: Production of action/sci-fi films directly supervised by Besson; development of existing and/or new franchises (sequels and/or prequels, as well as adaptations for TV of EuropaCorp’s film successes); reducing activities in non-core businesses; and reducing U.S. P&A-related related risk.

On the upcoming slate is the Besson-directed Anna, starring Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Helen Mirren and Cillian Murphy which Lionsgate is releasing; submarine drama Kursk from Thomas Vinterberg and starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Colin Firth and Léa Seydoux which will go via STX; and French-language title Little White Lies 2, written and directed by Guillaume Canet, starring François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard and Gilles Lellouche

On the TV side, Europa is developing English-language series including AI (Artificial Intelligence); Gray, based on an original idea by novelist David Baldacci; The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc Sec; and American Flagg!, based on the graphic novel by Howard Chaykin.

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