Luc Besson's EuropaCorp Partners With Pathe for French Distribution

Luc Besson - CinemaCon 2017 - Getty - H 2017
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The move comes after speculation that the company would shut down its distribution division.

Following speculation that EuropaCorp will shutter its French film distribution arm, the company on Friday announced it is entering into a three-year distribution partnership with Pathe.

That means director Luc Besson's Anna, starring Helen Mirren, will get a French release even as the beleaguered company faces financial troubles.

Nous finirons ensemble, starring Guillaume Canet will also fall under this deal.

EuropaCorp had pushed back the releases as it tried to find a distribution partner. Anna was moved from a planned Jan. 2 bow to a March 27 opening in France. Lionsgate, which has U.S. rights to Anna, has shelved the pic for now.

Guillaume Canet’s film, the sequel to his 2010 French box office smash Little White Lies — was pushed back from a planned March 27 release to May 1.

The new deal will work on a film-by-film basis.

“We’re delighted to partner with Pathé, and to share our savoir-faire and enthusiasm with them," said Besson.

A spokesperson for EuropaCorp painted the news as a positive for the company as they face the next round of financial results on Dec. 14: "This partnership allows us to have the best of both worlds: reduce our overhead, manage our distribution and work with the best talents in France."

The decision to partner with Pathe comes as EuropaCorp is trying to reduce its overhead as the company is in financial peril after the global disappointment of Besson's nearly $200 million sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Valerian grossed just $225 million worldwide, well below forecasts. The company has since been trying to find its financial footing, after a €119 million ($135 million) loss last December and a €82.5 million ($93.4 million) loss in July.

Besson also faces legal peril after Belgian actress Sand Van Roy accused Besson of raping her, sparking a police investigation. On Nov. 28, five more women came forward in a report in French investigative magazine Mediapart, alleging sexual misconduct. In total, nine separate women have accused the director of sexual assault and harassment.

EuropaCorp’s French distribution division is a major part of the company, taking in €39.6 million ($44.7 million) over the last fiscal year, representing nearly 18 percent of the company's total revenue. France has always been a big part of its model because its production side has delivered some of the country’s most ambitious films, at least in terms of budget, including Besson’s Valerian.

But the company, which used to release around 10 films a year, has shrunk considerably, dropping to just two to three releases per year. It currently has no movies in production.

EuropaCorp has already held a fire sale of several of its assets as it looks to slim down and repay debts of some $260 million. It sold off its French TV division for $13 million and is in talks with French studio Gaumont for the Roissy Films library, which comprises some 500 titles.

The next round of financial results are due Dec. 14.