×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Luc Besson’s Woes Pile Up as His Film School Teeters on the Brink of Closing

French filmmaker-producer Luc Besson is having a tumultuous summer. He’s facing rape allegations, EuropaCorp is going through a rough financial patch, and now his film school, l’Ecole de la Cite, is losing a number of its private backers and could shut down by the end of the year.

The school, which Besson launched in 2012 as an accessible alternative to the prestigious La Femis school, is free for students and operates with a budget of about €1.4 million ($1.6 million). It has been mostly financed by donations from sponsors including luxury brand Kering, TF1, Gaumont, Canal Plus and Transpalux. The school also receives public funds from the National Film Board (CNC) and the Ile de France region, but these subsidies don’t exceed €400,000 in total.

A spokesperson for EuropaCorp told Variety that the bulk of the school’s private partners will no longer support the academy during the coming year for financial reasons. Meanwhile, Pathé, Gaumont, and M6 stopped backing the school a while ago, according to French news outlet BFMTV. Over the last five years, the financial contributions from private companies has plummeted from €1.82 million in 2012 to €179,660 in 2017, according to the school’s financial documents.

Requests for comment from Gaumont, Canal Plus and Transpalux were not returned.

“We are actively looking for other partners to help us fund the school and keep it alive,” the EuropaCorp spokesperson said. “We’re also exploring other options such as relocating the school to cut costs.”

Since 2012, the school has been housed at La Cite du Cinema, France’s 120,000-square-foot studio complex where EuropaCorp also has its headquarters. La Cite du Cinema is mainly owned by Nef Lumiere, of which 75% is retained by the state-backed Caisse des Depots et Consignations (Deposits and Consignments Fund) and 25% belongs to Vinci Group, a privately owned French concessions and construction company. While funding for the school has dropped dramatically, the school’s rent at La Cité du Cinema has skyrocketed from €400,000 in 2012 to approximately €2 million in 2017, according to the school’s financial report.

L’Ecole de la Cité has about 60 students enrolled for a two-year program, some of whom have expressed their dismay on social media over the news that the school could close in the coming months. While the school could potentially relocate, its director has stepped down and the staff of about 10 employees has been laid off, according to BFMTV.

The school was conceived by Besson to welcome aspiring directors and screenwriters who may not fit the strict academic requirements of schools like La Femis. It puts an emphasis on hands-on teaching delivered by film professionals, including Besson himself.

EuropaCorp recently posted its financial results for the fiscal year that ended in March, showing a net loss of €82.5 million ($96.5 million) and debt estimated at €230 million ($269 million). Besson’s upcoming thriller, “Anna,” is expected to be released later this year.

More Film

  • C'est La Vie TIFF

    French Films' Overseas Box Office Revenue Drops 51% in 2018

    After bouncing back in 2017, the overseas box office revenue of French movies plummeted by 51% to 237 million euros ($270 million) with 40 million admissions sold, a 52% year-on drop, in 2018. The provisional box office figures were unveiled by UniFrance during a reception hosted at France’s culture minister during which Eric Toledano and [...]

  • Isabela Moner Shameik Moore Kiernan Shipka

    Netflix Casts Starry Ensemble for Adaptation of John Green's 'Let It Snow'

    “Dora the Explorer’s” Isabela Moner, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s” Shameik Moore, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s” Kiernan Shipka, “Lady Bird’s” Odeya Rush, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Mitchell Hope, Liv Hewson, Anna Akana, and Joan Cusack are set to star in the Netflix pic “Let It Snow.” The film is based on the New York Times bestselling [...]

  • Brian Tyree Henry Playback Podcast If

    Listen: From 'Beale Street' to 'Spider-Verse,' Brian Tyree Henry Was Your 2018 MVP

    Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor Brian Tyree Henry is coming off a sensational year. A second, acclaimed season of FX’s “Atlanta” sent him headlong into a fall movie season that saw featured roles in Yann [...]

  • (L to R) SAMUEL L. JACKSON,

    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • The Lego Movie 2

    'Lego Movie 2' Heading for $55 Million Opening Weekend

    Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is heading for an opening weekend of as much as $55 million at the North American box office on Feb. 8-10, early tracking showed Thursday. Chris Pratt is returning to voice Master Builder Emmet Brickowski along with new character Rex Dangervest. The unfailingly optimistic Emmet has [...]

  • Kevin Hart Monopoly

    Kevin Hart in Talks to Star in Monopoly Movie

    Kevin Hart is in talks to star in Lionsgate and Hasbro’s Monopoly live-action movie, which he will also produce through his HartBeat Productions label. Tim Story is in final negotiations to direct the film and also produce through his Story Company banner. HartBeat’s John Cheng will also produce and oversee the pic with Carli Haney. Story Company [...]

  • Playtime Unveils Three New French Comedies

    Playtime Dives Into Different Waves of French Comedy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Playtime, the Paris-based co-production and sales company which will be presenting Francois Ozon’s anticipated “By the Grace of God” in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, has acquired three offbeat French comedies: Geraldine Nakache’s “I’ll Go Where You Go,” “The Bare Necessity” with Fanny Ardant, and Valerie Donzelli’s “Our Lady of Paris.” “Our Lady of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content