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Shares in Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, the production outfit behind such films as Lucy and the Taken franchise, opened sharply higher on Tuesday, following a French news report that Netflix was close to a deal to buy the company.
Late last week, French financial paper Les Echos, citing unnamed sources, reported that Netflix was planning to acquire the Paris-based studio and that a deal could be unveiled as early as the Cannes Film Festival next month.
Shares in EuropaCorp opened up more than 30 percent at €2.56 ($3.15) on Tuesday, following the long Easter weekend. As of noon Paris time, the stock was up 28 percent at €2.47 ($3.04).
According to the Les Echos report, the deal would see Netflix take over control and operation of EuropaCorp, but Besson would stay on as creative head of the company.
The Netflix rumors have been circulating for months. In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, EuropaCorp confirmed, as it had earlier this year, that “discussions are taking place with several potential industrial and/or financial partners” but declined to mention Netflix by name. EuropaCorp reiterated that it has not entered into exclusive talks “with any of the potential partners in question.” Netflix couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
EuropaCorp’s financial challenges are no secret. In December, the group posted a half-year loss of $83.1 million, in part due to the disappointing performance of Besson’s sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Several top executives, including CEO Marc Shmuger and U.S. production head Liza Ellzey, have left the company, and EuropaCorp sold off its French TV division in an effort to shore up its finances.
The company also fired more than a dozen staff members and announced plans to refocus its efforts on producing action thrillers like Lucy and Taken, also trimming its slate from a planned 12 films a year to four to five titles annually.
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