Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has posted unflattering results for the 2018-19 financial year, including a loss of $125M, which was a 27% increase year-on-year.
The beleaguered French mini-studio was recently granted a six-month debt waiver from a French court to give it more time to balance its books. Talks are ongoing with French giant Pathé about the latter buying a majority stake in the company.
The Valerian and Anna outfit generated revenues of $170M for the year ending March 31, 2019, a 30% drop year-on-year while international sales generated $60M, $25M less than last year. On the plus side, there was a return to a positive operating margin of $32M. Following staff cuts, overheads were inevitably reduced by $8M year-on-year to $34M.
The company said net debt stood at $181M as of March 31, a reduction of almost $90M year-on-year, mainly due to the payment of production debts related to Anna, the series Taken, and Taxi 5.
While most income came from the delivery of Anna, the film’s recent U.S. opening of only $5M across its first week was a disappointment. International rollout is under way with the crucial French release coming next month.
TV and SVOD sales in France and the U.S. generated $36M following the broadcasts of Taxi 5, Valerian, comedy Coexist, Lucy, and Taken 3. Theatrical revenue fell to $7.7M (€6.8m). Positively, TV series revenues rose by 8% to $27M thanks largely to the delivery of the final six episodes of the second season of Taken.
The company said its priorities for the coming year will be to restructure the debts and to produce action and sci-fi films with lower budgets as well as English-language TV series.
Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies 2, released in May, recently took healthy box office of $22M in France. Upcoming TV development projects include a series adaptation of the graphic novel The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc Sec and a TV series about the history of jazz, on which Besson will be the showrunner.
Following the poor box office performance of costly 2017 feature Valerian, EuropaCorp’s reputation has also been stung by a string of sexual harassment allegations against founder Luc Besson. Authorities earlier this year threw out charges against the filmmaker following a nine-month inquiry into an actress’s accusations that he had raped her.