Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.Filmmaker Luc Besson grew up at sea, soaking up beautiful scenery, the child of scuba diving instructors. He eventually found his way to the comic series "Valerian and Laureline," and a childhood dream was born.For years he wanted to turn the eye-popping French tales into a feature film, but until he saw what James Cameron accomplished on "Avatar," he felt it was...
After hitting a rough patch with under-performing films such as “Malavita” and “The Lady,” helmer-producer Luc Besson made a major directorial comeback with “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson. Besson just delivered “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” a comic book-based sci-fi pic. The movie, which toplines Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne and Rihanna, was partly shot at EuropaCorp’s Cité du Cinema, the massive film studio on the outskirts of Paris. As a producer, Besson has also thrived in recent years: His company EuropaCorp scored big with “Taken,” the action-packed trilogy starring Liam Neeson, which grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide collectively.
On a corporate and strategic level, Besson has had to face the downfall of its distribution partner in the U.S., Relativity Media, with which it formed the joint venture RED (Relativity EuropaCorp Distribution) in 2014. In light of Relativity’s demise, EuropaCorp took steps to ally with a strong U.S. partner, STX Entertainment, to handle the release of “Valerian” and EuropaCorp’s upcoming films in the States.
Under Besson’s leadership, EuropaCorp has also ramped up its film and TV business in France and in the U.S., where the company’s Los Angeles-based studio has notably produced “Taken,” the TV series spinoff of the blockbuster franchise. Besson’s company has in recent years focused more and more on English-language cast-driven films, such as “Miss Sloane” with Jessica Chastain and “The Circle” with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.