PARIS– In a fiscal year marked by its expansion into the U.S. market, among numerous growth operations, Luc Besson and Christophe Lambert’s EuropaCorp posted 211.8 million Euros ($288 million) in revenue, fueled by international sales and TV production.
The outfit’s net profit, however, fell 19.4% from last year’s record $26 million, and generated 4% in operating profit margin for the year 2013-2014, which ended on March 31. On the upside, Jean-Baptiste Sergeant, analyst at Gilbert Dupont, noted that the gross profit margin of EuropaCorp reached 27.3%, which marks the company’s second best performance.
The company’s international sales biz, led by Marie-Laure Montironi, scored $153 million (compared with last year’s $97 million). This figure is nonetheless bloated by EuropaCorp’s $45 milion flat-rate deal with Fox which covers future royalty revenue from “Taken” and “Taken 2.” Deal also covers collateral guarantees for any future royalties generated with Fox.
Auditors are currently looking into the timing of this pact with Fox to determine whether it should be included in the financial year 2013-2014. The pact accounted for $17.7 million in operating margin and $11 million in net profit.
Overall, international sales were bolstered by royalties from catalogue titles, notably “Taken 2,” “Taken,” “Colombiana” and “Transporter 3;” plus the deal with Universal on “Lucy” as well as sales on Robert de Niro starrer “The Family” and “3 Days To Kill” with Kevin Costner.
Apart from sales on English-language mainstream actioners, the biggest growth driver for EuropaCorp was once again its TV drama business.
Spearheaded by Thomas Anargyros and Édouard de Vésinne, EuropaCorp Television’s series generated $50 million in sales, a 27% year-on rise. Deals on “No Limit” (which was reupped by commercial net TF1 for a second order), “Taxi Brooklyn” (which just premiered on NBC) and “The Passenger” (picked up by pubcaster France Télévision) repped a large share of the figure.
During the fiscal year, the company’s overheads nearly doubled to $60 million due to the launch of its joint U.S. distribution venture, Relativity EuropaCorp Distribution (RED) and its multiplex located inside the Aeroville mall, just outside of Paris.
Film production investment also rose by more than 45% to $162.3 million because of such films as “Lucy” (pictured above) whose budget is reportedely in the $70 million range, as well as the shingle’s $130 million deal with Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity to create RED.
EuropaCorp claims the shingle’s net profit figure was down partly because of an “expense of €10.1 million due to the partial cancellation of an employee’s free share plan.”
While international sales went up, the French theatrical distribution biz of company, whose headquarters are located at the mega-studio Cite du Cinema, fell nearly 50% to $13.6 million, partly because last year’s results were boosted by the release of “Taken 2.”
The outfit distributed 10 movies, including Besson’s gangster pic “The Family,” Alexandra Lamy’s women-skewed romantic comedy “I Did It Again” and Mathias Malzieu and Stephane Berla’s “The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart.”
EuropaCorp’s 2480-seat multiplex, launched in November, brought $2 million in revenue, which is a shy – if not underwhelming –start, according to insiders.
EuropaCorp announced at Cannes it had secured a new credit line of $450 million over 5 years with J.P. Morgan, SunTrust Bank and OneWest Bank, to finance its building slate of English-language movies. Following the launch of RED, Lambert told Variety he was now looking to increase the volume of English-language productions to eight pics or so per year.
Sergeant said increasing the number of English-language production would allow EuropaCorp to cross-collaterize production costs.
RED will be distributing Louis Leterrier’s “Sea at War,” the “Transporter” trilogy reboot and Simon West’s “DNA” in the U.S. and will be putting down its own P&A.
Universal Pictures will distribute “Lucy” worldwide, except in France, Benelux (Belga Films) and China (Fundamental).
“Taken 3” started shooting in April and will be released during the first quarter of 2015. The first opus of the “Transporter” reboot, co-produced by Fundamental in China, is set to start lensing this summer.
EuropaCorp’s anticipated releases slated for the 2014-2015 fiscal year include two movies that competed at Cannes: Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent” and Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman” as well as “Lucy” skedded for an August roll-out.