Luc Besson's EuropaCorp Posts $136 Million Loss Ahead of 'Valerian' Release

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Luc Besson

The company suffered from an "underperforming slate" after pics including 'Nine Lives' and 'Shut In' did poorly at the box office.

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has a lot at stake with the upcoming July release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the $180 million sci-fi epic starring Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan.

The company posted an annual loss of €120 million ($136 million) for the fiscal year against €151.7 million ($172.5 million) consolidated revenue. While it called the loss “considerably higher than past years,” the figure was in line with previous projections.

EuropaCorp is looking to establish Valerian as a tentpole franchise after a devastating year with what it called an “underperforming slate” — namely the Kevin Spacey-starring cat movie Nine Lives, Naomi Watts' thriller Shut In, Jessica Chastain’s political drama Miss Sloane and the Tom Hanks- and Emma Watson-starring The Circle, all of which did poorly at the box office.

The company cited the box-office disappointments that “failed to offset distribution costs to support wide releases.” Distribution costs were upwards of $114 million for the films.

As part of a significant strategy shift, EuropaCorp signed a multiyear distribution agreement with STX Motion Pictures Group for its upcoming releases in an effort to stave off the flood of losses. The company says the new agreement will lead to better box-office performance, more efficient distribution and lower marketing and distribution costs for its upcoming films.

The STX deal followed the overall failure of its RED joint distribution venture with Relativity, after the implosion of that company. Distribution costs under RED were upwards of $114 million.

Following the success of recent hits like Lucy and the Taken franchise, EuropaCorp is refocusing development and production to more closely reflect core strengths in action and sci-fi genres. It will also put greater emphasis on productions written and directed by Besson.

The company will also continue focus on its television business with the second season of NBC’s Taken. Despite the losses, revenue was up 3 percent overall — much of that due to its TV slate, which was up 25 percent on the strength of SVOD sales in the U.S.

EuropaCorp also aims to return to its historical level of French-language production, which has been somewhat sidelined as it has focused on its English-language blockbusters. The company has the fifth installment of its Taxi franchise as well as four French-language films in production, including Eva, which stars Oscar-nominee Isabelle Huppert.

Valerian is set to be released July 21.