Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp Posts $31 Million Loss in ‘Transition Year’

Results in line with expectations, as company takes a hit from ‘Transporter' results in the U.S., awaits ‘Valerian,’ other new English-language movies

Luc Besson
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In what it termed a “transition year,” with no new “Taken” or “Lucy” and nine English-language movies still to release, EuropaCorp posted an annual net loss of €27.7 million ($30.8 million) for 2015-16, the company announced Friday. Operating losses were €22.3 million ($24.8 million).

The downbeat results for the financial year ending March 31 are broadly in line with expectations: EuropaCorp, led by Luc Besson, had already issued a profit warning before posting its numbers. Its share price edged down in early-morning trading Friday on the Paris bourse, losing 1.8%. EuropaCorp stock has already fallen by 17.7% in 2016.

The company’s losses come after a 2014-15 financial year when it registered €16.2 million ($18 million) in net profit thanks to returns from “Taken 3” and Scarlett Johansson-starrer “Lucy.” By contrast, EuropaCorp released just five movies in 2015-16, only one of which received global distribution.

Consolidated annual revenues were down 35% to €147.3 million ($163.7 million) from €226.9 million ($252.2 million) in 2014-15.

The past year was also marked by the launch of EuropaCorp’s North American film-distribution operation with Camille Delamarre’s “The Transporter Refuelled,” which under-performed in the U.S. The movie grossed just $16 million, below what one analyst estimated was probably about $20 million to $30 million spent on prints and advertising.

EuropaCorp noted in a statement Friday that it had made significantly higher investments in films and TV series aimed at the global market, led by Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Total investment in films and TV series with global reach spiraled from €102.9 million ($114.4 million) in 2014-15 to €175.9 million ($195.5 million) in the last financial year.

The company said it had a “significant volume of English-language films in post-production and ready for worldwide distribution in coming months.”

“Valerian” wrapped its shoot “ahead of schedule and on budget” on June 3, EuropaCorp said. Other upcoming EuropaCorp releases include “Nine Lives” from Barry Sonenfeld; “Shut In,” starring Naomi Watt; “Warrior’s Gate,” EuropaCorp’s first co-production with China’s Fundamental Films; “The Lake” by Steven Quale; and “Miss Sloane” from John Madden, starring Jessica Chastain.

Key for investor confidence will be details of risk exposure on “Valerian” which, with a reported $170-million budget, is the biggest movie ever made in France.

EuropaCorp announced five “priority objectives” for coming years: a hike in the number of English-language films produced; “a return to historic output levels of French-language films”; growing its TV production “to become a major player on the world stage”; turning “Valerian” into a franchise; and the expansion of existing franchises with “Lucy 2,” a new “Taken” film and a new “Taxi” film.

Making a splash on the U.S. TV scene, EuropaCorp has already announced a “Taken” TV series prequel, co-produced by Universal Television for NBC, with Alexander Cary (“Homeland”) as showrunner, plus “AI (Artificial Intelligence)” for cable network TNT, in co-production with TNT Studios, and “Bulletproof,” written by Corey Miller (“Reckless”), ordered by Amazon Studios.