Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, which was granted a six-month debt waiver in May from a French commercial court to find a white knight, has posted a 34% year-on-year drop in its annual revenue and a loss of $125 million for the financial year that ended March 31.
The Paris-based company generated $170 million in annual revenues and said in its statement that the 34% drop was due to the fact that the previous year’s results had been boosted 75% thanks to the release of “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Although the pricey science-fiction movie tanked at the box office in most countries, it did fairly well in France (selling more than 4 million tickets), where EuropaCorp handled the theatrical release.
EuropaCorp, which hasn’t had a movie in production for a while, also saw its international sales revenues dip to $59 million, compared with $87 million last year. Sales on “Anna,” including to Lionsgate, accounted for a large part of the international sales revenues.
The company has been taking drastic steps to limit risks and reduce its overhead, notably by stopping its direct-distribution operations, initiating a layoff plan and handing off U.S. distribution of its movies to third-party companies. As a result, the company saw its operating margin go up slightly to $32 million while its overhead costs dropped 20% to $33.8 million.
EuropaCorp said the slight increase in operating margin was “mainly due to a slate more closely aligned with company’s historic successes (‘Taxi 5,’ ‘Anna’) and to the strong decrease in P&A expenses in the U.S.,” where EuropaCorp released three films during the previous fiscal year.
Besson’s latest movie, “Anna,” was just released in the U.S. by Lionsgate and only grossed $5 million over its first six days in theaters. It will be released in France on July 10 by Pathé, as part of the French film studio’s three-year distribution pact with EuropaCorp. Under this deal, Pathé also released Guillaume Canet’s “Little White Lies 2,” which has had a healthy run at the French box office.
Pathé is currently in advanced negotiations to take a majority stake in EuropaCorp, but the company is in the middle of some tough discussions on an agreement with EuropaCorp’s junior lender, Vine, over a portion of debt ($90 million) that matures next April, according to a financing source.
Besides stabilizing its finances, EuropaCorp said in its statement that its priority was to focus on “action and sci-fi films produced with controlled budget, covered by significant pre-financings, with a strong implication of Luc Besson as writer, director and/or producer [as well as] English-language TV series with strong international potential, such as ‘Taken.'” Although there are no movies in production at EuropaCorp, the banner has several TV projects in the pipeline, notably “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec,” based on the French graphic novel by Jacques Tardi.
The company made no reference to Besson’s recent legal turmoil. The filmmaker got hit with rape allegations by the actress Sand Van Roy last year. A nine-month police investigation into Besson was ultimately dismissed in February.