Luc Besson's EuropaCorp Looks to Sell Multiplex Business

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Luc Besson

The news comes as China's Fundamental Films is set to become the studio's largest outside shareholder.

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp said Friday it is looking to sell off its multiplex business, entering into exclusive negotiations with France's Cinemas Gaumont Pathe.

The announcement comes just a day after the news that China's Fundamental Films is set to become EuropaCorp's largest shareholder behind Besson in a €60 million ($67 million) deal.

If the negotiations are successful, Cinemas Gaumont Pathe will take over EuropaCorp's much-hyped Aeroville multiplex theater, which opened in 2013, and its planned La Joliette Marseille project, which is now set to begin construction in January after several delays.

“EuropaCorp wants to refocus on its core business activities, which are the production and distribution of films and television series around the world,” the company said in a statement.

China’s Fundamental Films is set to become the French studio’s second biggest shareholder with 27.9 percent in a stock issuance deal announced Thursday. “This capital increase will improve the ability to produce and distribute EuropaCorp films and series in English worldwide,” said Besson in a statement regarding the Fundamental Films investment.

The Aeroville multiplex houses 2,400 seats in 12 theaters in a massive shopping mall outside of Paris. It opened to great fanfare in 2013, touted as a world-class cinema with tickets up to $28 for couch-like reclining seats and with champagne and caviar on offer.

At the time it launched the projects, EuropaCorp said it was in part because of the relative stability and steady income stream of movie ticket sales as insurance against the volatility of movie production.

The Aeroville theater saw 567,000 tickets sold in its first fiscal year in operation, 765,000 in its second and reports that it is on track to sell 800,000 this year. Still, the theater has accumulated $11.1 million in net losses thus far.

Cinemas Gaumont Pathe is the No. 1 operator of theaters in France, and also operates in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium with a total of 1,051 screens in 110 cinemas.

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