On top with ‘Taken,’ EuropaCorp expands

Mini-major broadening to English, French TV

Even if attendance at Cannes has been noticeably lighter than in previous years, French mini-major EuropaCorp is enjoying one of its busiest fests ever.

Co-founder Luc Besson is in pre-production on his next directing project, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec.”

The $33 million project is an adaptation of a popular French-Belgian comicbook series by graphic novelist Jacques Tardi. Set in Paris around 1912, the project follows an intrepid female writer who finds herself embroiled in a series of fantastical exploits.

“It’s a cross between ‘Amelie’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ — or Indiana Jones in a dress,” Besson told Variety. “This is the type of project where it is not a problem to keep it in French.”

Lensing will start in September with locations including France and Egypt. Cast details have yet to be announced but are believed to be imminent.

EuropaCorp has also inked a U.S. distribution deal with Magnolia for their French-language action sequel “District 13: Ultimatum.”

Magnolia released the first installment of the franchise, about two undercover Parisian cops, in 2006.

EuropaCorp co-founder Pierre-Ange Le Pogam revealed that the company is looking to expand into French- and English-language TV production.

“We know we now have the capacity to make 10 features a year so it is time for us to take a further step,” said Le Pogam. “It will be a good way for us to find new talent. It’s a step that offers us long-term opportunities.”

EuropaCorp has been enjoying a banner year so far. Its Pierre Morel-directed action pic “Taken” grossed more than $143 million in the U.S., where it was released by Fox.

The company, which is bowing Xavier Giannoli’s “A L’origine” in competish at Cannes, has also been generating a lot of interest at the market with its English-language sci-fi project “Section 8.”

Besson and Le Pogam are also ramping up plans to turn a number of their hit French-language projects into English-language remakes.

EuropaCorp inked a deal with Miramax in April for a remake of their Guillaume Canet-directed thriller “Tell No One.”

The company is closing in on another U.S. deal for the English-language redux of “District 13,” titled “Brick Mansion.”

“For us to see a film like ‘Taken’ on top of the U.S. market, which is the biggest and toughest in the world, is really, really big for us,” said Besson. “It’s as if, after nine years, we’re in the final of the world championships now.”

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