'Taken,' 'Lucy,' TV Production Boost EuropaCorp Full-Year Revenue

Luc Besson
Luc Besson
 Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

PARIS – Building on the strength of its international stable of English language films and growing high-end TV production arm, Luc Besson's EuropaCorp posted revenue of $288 million (€211.8 million), an increase of 14 percent, when it reported its annual results Thursday night. 

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International sales rose €112 million from €71.1 million last year, including a $45 million deal with Fox for future royalties from the first two Taken films, though auditors are still examining the timing and distribution of this deal. Revenue from the Fox deal signed early in the year and credited in the fourth quarter added €29.7 million for this fiscal year.

Ongoing royalties from Colombiana and the latest Transporter installment were also credited. Pre-sales and screening rights for Kevin Costner’s spy thriller 3 Days to Kill, Robert DeNiro’s mob comedy The Family and the upcoming Scarlett Johansson vehicle Lucy, scheduled for a July 25 U.S. release, also boosted international sales.

However, the initial cost of establishing its joint venture and distribution deal with U.S.-based Relativity—$130 million over six years—and launching its big-screen business with the multiplex opening of the Aeroville compound outside of Paris, drove down the operating profit to €8.5 million. Still, the new theater delivered €1.5 million in revenue, following its opening in Nov. 2013.

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Income was also impacted by the one-time payout of €10 million, due to the partial cancelation of an employee share plan.

Their TV production division also posted strong results, growing 27 percent to €36.2 million, largely spurred by the delivery of French-language spy series No Limit and English-language police procedural Taxi Brooklyn to TF1, mystery series The Passenger to France Televisions, as well as two television films adapted from Mary Higgins Clark novels. The French television section reported revenue of €26.8 million.

The company, which made the jump from being a “European mini-major” to an American studio with the announcement of a $450 million credit facility to finance international and English-language production growth during Cannes, is just launching its U.S. TV division with key hires this month to produce series for the U.S.

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The company plans to grow its English-language film slate threefold to about eight per year, while shrinking its French films from nine to four. It has about 22 television projects in development currently.

EuropaCorp predicts strong growth for 2014/15 pushed by the Lucy release, distributed by EuropaCorp in France, Benelux and China, as well as Cannes competitors Saint Laurent and the star-studded awards season contender The Homesman, with Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Meryl Streep and James Spader.

Building on the strength of their action franchises, EuropaCorp will release the third installment of the Taken action films in the first quarter of 2015 and began shooting the next Transporter this month, also with an eye towards a first quarter 2015 release. 

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