Exhib merger pumps Gaumont’s profits

Revs from film prod'n falls slightly

PARIS — French film group Gaumont on Monday posted 2001 profits of 59.1 million euros ($51.6 million), compared with a loss of $58.4 million in 2000.

The upturn in the company’s financial fortunes was helped by the merger of its chain of theaters, France’s second biggest, with Pathe’s in the jointly owned Europalaces, creating exceptional income of $57.8 million.

Gaumont also was spared the financial burden of a costly flop like last year’s big-budget English-language comedy “Just Visiting.” Operating income stood at $9 million, compared with a loss of $71.4 million in 2000.

Overall revenues stood at $75 million, compared with $207.9 million in 2000, because Gaumont no longer includes exhibition revenues in its annual accounts. Revenues from film production fell slightly from $78.9 million in 2000 to $75 million.

This year the company will release Djamel Bensalah’s action-adventure “The Raid”; Jon Sherman’s English-language romantic comedy “I’m With Lucy,” starring Monica Potter and Henry Thomas; and French-underworld actioner “La Mentale,” starring Samuel Le Bihan (“Brotherhood of the Wolf”) and Sami Naceri (“Taxi”).

Upcoming productions include boxing-themed drama “Fureur,” starring Le Bihan, and Jean-Marie Poire’s “Damien and the Invader.”

In exhibition terms, the Europalaces chain, of which Gaumont owns 34%, is expected to grow further in 2002 with the creation of three sites in France, a renovation program in the Netherlands and the opening of the group’s first Italian multiplex in Turin.

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