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The epic box office failure of Valerian claimed its highest profile casualty as EuropaCorp deputy CEO Edouard de Vesinne was ousted by the board of directors, effective immediately.
In a statement released late Monday night, the company said de Vesinne had been “terminated” by the board, citing his activities with his independent production company Incognita. “The EuropaCorp Board of Directors considered that the production activities (television and feature films) of Incognita were no longer compatible with the maintenance of Mr. de Vesinne in his duties,” it said.
However, that may have been a pretext for letting de Vesinne go as EuropaCorp signed a development agreement with him and Incognita, which is behind the French-language religious comedy Coexister, which will be released Oct. 11.
“EuropaCorp has agreed with Incognita to continue their partnership and continue joint development of several on-going television projects and to benefit from a right of priority over the upcoming Incognita television projects,” it said.
De Vesinne was appointed to deputy CEO in April of last year. He reported to L.A.-based CEO Marc Shmuger, who was appointed in February 2016. He previously served as co-head of the television division of the company.
EuropaCorp faces questions about its future after the spectacular failure of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic starring Cara Delevigne and Dane DeHaan grossed just $40 million in the U.S. and stands at $172 million worldwide, just below its production cost of $180 million.
Besson has long maintained that 90 percent of the budget was financed by pre-sales and the company is only on the hook for a portion of that, but it had a significant publicity spend. And after posting losses of $136 million in the last fiscal year due to an underperforming slate including 9 Lives, Shut In, Miss Sloane and The Circle, the company had been looking to Valerian to save it.
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