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EuropaCorp, Pathé Sign Three-Year Distribution Pact

Luc Besson’s financially ailing EuropaCorp has signed a distribution deal with Pathé, which will handle the French release of three EuropaCorp movies per year over the next three years.

The first two films to be released by Pathé in France under the deal are Besson’s (“Valerian”) thriller “Anna,” with Helen Mirren, and Guillaume Canet’s “Nous Finirons Ensemble,” the sequel to “Little White Lies,” which was France’s highest-grossing local film in 2010.

EuropaCorp said the two companies would collaborate on the distribution of films produced or co-produced by EuropaCorp.

Pathé is a solid partner. The company currently ranks as France’s most successful independent distribution outfit, boasting this year’s top two local movies, “The Magic Tuche” and “La ch’tite famille.”

Besson said in a statement that the company was “delighted by the agreement,” and looks forward to “sharing [its] know-how and enthousiasm with Pathé.”

EuropaCorp is folding its in-house distribution business in a drastic measure to reduce its overhead. Longtime executive Philippe Kaempf, head of distribution and operations, will be leaving the company by the end of the month and is expected to continue working as a consultant.

EuropaCorp’s distribution business in France has always been a big part of its business model. During the last fiscal year, theatrical distribution in France brought in €39.6 million ($44.7 million) and represented almost 18% of the company’s total revenue.

While it tries to raise capital in order to repay debt (valued at about €230 million earlier this year), EuropaCorp has taken cost-cutting measures such as layoffs in its Paris office and the sale of its French TV production unit. It’s also in exclusive negotiations with Gaumont to sell its library of Roissy Films, which comprises more than 500 titles. The studio currently has no movie in production.

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