EuropaCorp Posts Record Net Profit

French company sees 10% increase in revenue

PARIS — Bolstered by its powerful slate of English-language movies and TV series, EuropaCorp — topped by founder Luc Besson and CEO Christophe Lambert — posted a record €19.6 million ($25.5 million) net profit with a robust 16.3% in operating profit margin for 2012-13, after breaking even during the previous financial year.

Ending on March 31, the financial year’s revenues rose 10% to $241.8 million.

Taken 2″‘s B.O. tsunami gave the shingle a big push. French theater admissions were up 16% to $21 million. Besides “Taken 2,” pictured above, other EuropaCorp titles that performed well included French-language spy thriller “Mobius,” starring Jean Dujardin, and romantic comedy “It Boy.”

TV production and international sales, including catalog sales, were key profit drivers.

Underscoring the company’s successful diversification strategy, revenues from TV series reached $37 million, repping 15.3% of overall annual revenue — compared to 5.2% for the previous financial year.  Revs were upped by royalties from such high-profile series as “XIII,” “No Limit” and “Flight of the Storks.”

International sales remained strong at $93.3 million, boosted by “Taken 2,” which was released in October; royalties from English-language catalog titles (“Colombiana,” “Taken,” “Transporter 3″ and “I Love You Phillip Morris,” among others); and the revs generated from EuropaCorp’s deal with “Malavita”’s U.S. distributor Relativity.

“Two years ago, EuropaCorp announced its goal to reach a 15% profit margin by 2015. They succeeded in surpassing this goal two years early -– that’s quite a significant achievement,” said Jean-Baptiste Sergeant, financial analyst at Gilbert Dupont.

“EuropaCorp shows no signs of slowing down during the current financial year (2013-14),” added Sergeant, pointing out that the shingle will nab royalties from “Taken 2.” It also has a rich movie lineup including “Brick Mansion,” Robert De Niro starrer “Malavita,”  “Three Days to Kill” with Kevin Costner and such TV shows as season 2 of “No Limit” and New York-set ‘Brooklyn South.’ “

Also, EuropaCorp will likely draw healthy pre-sales coin from Scarlett Johansson starrer “Lucy” (skedded to start shooting in September), among other buzzed-about EuropaCorp projects. EuropaCorp has a flurry of franchise-based blockbusters in the pipeline, including the third installment of Liam Neeson starrer “Taken 3″ (set to begin production in February) and a new “Transporter” trilogy co-produced with China’s Fundamental Films.

Lambert confirmed Jason Statham won’t topline the new installments of the franchise. “We’re relaunching the franchise so we’re starting fresh,” said Lambert, adding that the second opus on the trilogy will take place in China.

Speaking about the eventuality of EuropaCorp expanding its co-production/co-financing deal with Relativity beyond the three movies it covered (“Malavita,” Brick Mansion” and “Three Days To Kill,” Lambert said both companies are talking about collaborating on various movies in development on a project by project basis.

EuropaCorp, which recently set up an L.A.-based movie studio and tapped vet Hollywood producer Lisa Ellzey to run U.S. film production, is committed to delivering three to four English-language films per year, explained Lambert. Meanwhile, Besson is contractually bond to direct one English-language movie every year. The next two English-language pics he will helm are “Lucy” and then sci-fi flick “Valerian,” adapted from the cult comicbook.

On the TV front, the shingle, now headquarted at La Cite du Cinema megastudio, is developping an English-language fantasy thriller skein with “CSI” scribe Naren Shankar. SHow has been commissioned by France’s top commercial net TF1; Germany’s RTL is already on board and EuropaCorp is in discussions with a big U.S. network, said Lambert.

EuropaCorp will launch its own movie theaters in October, although it has announced that it will operate — but not own — its exhibition interests.

“If you look at the movie studios that have a thriving and stable business model – for instance Pathe, Studiocanal, Warner Bros., Fox and Disney — , they’re all involved in some ways in diffusion, whether it’s via a TV channel, VOD or theater exhibition,” said Lambert. “These diffusion activities balance out and alleviate the volatile aspect of our production and distribution activities.”

During the previous financial year, film production investment had dropped to around $67 million. In 2012-13, it climbed to $104 million and will remain in the same range if not higher during the upcoming year, per Sergeant. Indeed, EuropaCorp has announced that “Lucy” would be its highest-budgeted movie ever. So far, “Arthur and the Minimoys,” budgeted at approximately $78 million, ranks as the company’s most pricey pic.

Shareholders’ equity has climbed 48% to $63.7 million, bolstered by the cash capital increase in February and the shingle’s record net income.

(John Hopewell contributed to this report.)

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