Profits rise 35% thanks to franchises, TV sales

MADRID — Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp saw net profits rise 35% to E9.4 million ($13 million) for financial year 2008-09 as its movie franchises — most notably “Transporter” — and boffo sales to Gallic television helped it ride out industry turbulence.

Revenues for the year ended March 31 fell 13% to $178.1 million, as the Gallic mini-major released 10 films in France vs. 12 over 2007-08. International sales increased 11% increase to $56.8 million, led by returns on Jason Statham starrer “Transporter 3.” Pic was distributed by Lionsgate and made just over $101 million worldwide.

“The international success of the third opus in the ‘Transporter’ series confirms the effectiveness of the franchise strategy, which is very favorable in terms of revenue and profitability,” EuropaCorp said Thursday.

Sales to Gallic TV operators — both free-to-air and pay TV — leapt 24% to $58.9 million, making French TV the single most valuable source of sales for EuropaCorp.

French theatrical revenues also skyrocketed 42%, though from a relatively modest base, to $17.7 million, driven by “District 13-Ultimatum” (1.1 million tickets sold in France) and “Special Correspondents” (555,000). 

On the downside, French homevid returns plunged 46% to $21.1 million, reflecting a weaker release slate vs. 2007-08.

EuropaCorp results were also hit by the absence of one-off returns from line production. Company line-produced “Hitman” for Fox, bumping up the 2007-08 figures.

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