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Profits rise at Gaumont

Trio of hits bring up box office numbers

Boosted by a bumper year at the box office, profits at Gallic major Gaumont rose to E25.4 million ($33.2 million) last year, up from $9.4 million in 2005, on revenues up 32% to $172 million.

A hat trick of hits — hick pic “You Are So Beautiful,” Francis Veber’s “The Valet” and the James Bond-style spoof “OSS117: Cairo, Nest of Thieves” — garnered more than 10 million admissions.

Thanks to these titles and Valerie Lemercier laffer “Palais Royal,” DVD sales rose 11%.

Michel Gondry’s “The Science of Sleep” contributed to a 26% hike in international sales, Gaumont said. However, catalog and TV sales dipped.

The improved financial performance of Europalaces, France’s biggest movie theater chain, in which Gaumont holds a 34% stake (Pathe owns the rest), contributed $12.8 million to Gaumont’s bottom line. Theater chain’s revenues rose to $542 million, up from $499 million in 2005, thanks to rising French admissions, up 7.5% last year, and lower financial charges.

Gaumont’s profit also included a $11.1 million exceptional tax credit.

Company, which will form its own solo theatrical distribution arm in July after ending a joint venture with Sony Columbia, has a busy roster of some dozen releases in 2007.

January saw the bows of Sean Ellis’ “Cashback” and Regis Wargnier’s “Seeds of Death,” which have notched up ticket sales of 120,000 and 800,000, respectively.

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