Bac Majestic on road to recovery

Company's financial debt down to $11 mil

PARIS — Jean Labadie’s Bac Majestic is over the worst of its financial crisis and has buried that hatchet with Miramax, Labadie said Tuesday at a presentation of the French film company’s results.

For 2002, Bac Majestic posted losses of $8.5 million, compared with $14 million in 2001, on revenues of $101.6 million.

Most of the year was spent extricating the company out of a financial hole that brought it close to bankruptcy.

Added to exhibition woes caused by unprofitable multiplex investments, Bac acrimoniously lost its partnership with Miramax — which teamed up instead in a French distribution venture with Gallic broadcaster TF1.

Studio Canal, Bac’s other big partner, also severed ties with Labadie.

But Bac has sold off some of its theaters as part of a move to pull out of exhibition completely.

A severance deal with Studio Canal also has helped to redress Bac’s finances without the need for an external cash injection. The company’s financial debt at the end of this year will be down to $11 million from $32.4 million in 2002 .

Meanwhile, Miramax and Labadie recently agreed to called off hostilities over Bac’s continued video exploitation of Miramax titles such as “Spy Kids” and “Scary Movie 2.”

“We’ve come through an extremely difficult patch,” Labadie said, “but we’ve resolved our problems.”

“Miramax has contributed very amicably to settling our differences, which testifies to the strength of our long-standing relationship,” Labadie said. “I wouldn’t rule out doing business with them in the future, although nothing of the kind is planned right now.”

Looking ahead, Bac will focus on its core activity — theatrical distribution — while developing its TV and video sales activities, Labadie said.

In 2004, he expects to distribute about 10 French films and about 15 films of U.S. or other origin.

The distrib recently acquired two films from Contentfilm, “Love Object” and “The Cooler.”

But the days of paying top dollar for big-budget American fare are over, Labadie said.

“Today we are extremely prudent,” he said. “We will pay $330,000 –$550,000 maximum. One of the things we’ve learned is that a more expensive film isn’t necessarily the most profitable.”

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