Besson’s EuropaCorp buys Roissy

Company's catalog has 500 titles

PARIS — Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has signed a preliminary agreement to acquire the 500-strong French film library and sales company Roissy Films.

The deal, which values Roissy’s catalog of film titles at some Euros 28 million ($40 million), reps EuropaCorp’s first major acquisition since its stock market flotation in July. Acquisition will be finalized in January.

Roissy, one of France’s oldest international sales companies, has a rich catalog of classic films, among them dozens of international prize winners, including Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’avventura,” Marco Ferreri’s “La Grande bouffe,” Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “La Guerre du feu,” Jean Renoir’s “Les Bas-fonds” and Henri Verneuil’s “Melodie en sous-sol.”

Company’s annual revenue is Euros 5-10 million ($7 million-$14 million), earned mainly from TV sales, but EuropaCorp will be bidding to grow that substantially by developing under-exploited video and thus far non-existent VOD business. It is also planning to tap into the catalog for remake material, as StudioCanal has been doing with its film library.

Raphael Berdugo, who has owned and run Roissy since taking it over in a management buyout from owner L’Oreal subsid Paravision in 1996, will remain in place as operational topper, along with his team of 15 staff.

“There is a synergy between EuropaCorp and Roissy,” Berdugo said.

“EuropaCorp produces a lot but has relatively few catalog titles (around 50) while Roissy has a fine catalog but on its own, it didn’t have the means to take mandates on a sufficient number of fresh titles.”

Berdugo said he would go on investing in smaller arthouse fare such as the Lebanese hit “Caramel,” co-produced and sold internationally by Roissy.

Upcoming films include an as yet untitled Italian project about the anti-Mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino, starring Gerard Jugnot alongside the young stars of “Respiro.” Helmer Marco Amenta begins lensing Oct. 22.