Gaumont stung by ‘Just Visiting’

French studio posts $60 million loss

PARIS — The failure of Gaumont’s priciest ever pic, the 590 million franc ($81 million) “Just Visiting,” has blown a massive hole in the French film studio’s finances, single-handedly accounting for a loss of $60 million in 2000, as opposed to an $8 million profit in 1999.

Sales for the year slumped 15% to $214 million.

Gaumont has conceded only two weeks after the French release of “Just Visiting” that the English-language comedy directed by Jean Marie Poiré has failed to ignite at the box office and that the company’s losses, which had been anticipated, were “practically equivalent to the cost of the film.”

Due to a drop in international sales, Gaumont’s film sales were $81 million, down from $116 million, this despite the strong international performance of Mathieu Kassovitz’s action thriller “Crimson Rivers.”

On a more positive note, exhibition sales were $132 million, up from $125 million.

Gaumont, France’s second biggest exhibitor, is poised to merge its exhibition business with that of Pathe, France’s no. 3 exhibitor, into EuroPalaces, a pan-European exhib that will be owned 66% by Pathe, 34% by Gaumont.

Pathe and Gaumont are respectively run by brothers Jerome Seydoux and Nicholas Seydoux.

For the moment, full details of the merger, which is expected to go ahead this summer, have not been released.

In its results, Gaumont also said that it planned to concentrate on film production, producing a dozen French and international pics in the next 18 months.

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