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France's Luc Besson seeks cash as film studio stumbles

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
France's Luc Besson seeks cash as film studio stumbles
French filmmaker Luc Besson. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

French filmmaker Luc Besson's production studio said on Friday that it was considering "different options" to raise cash and cut costs after sinking to record losses.

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The announcement comes after the underwhelming box-office take for Besson's science-fiction spectacular "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" last summer.

Although the film brought in more than $225 million, a poor performance in the huge US market left Besson's EuropaCorp struggling to make up for its $177 million it cost to produce -- an astronomical sum for a French production.

Besson, who is working on a pilot for a proposed US police drama, took back direct control of the studio earlier this month, replacing CEO Marc Shmuger, a veteran of Sony Pictures.

EuropaCorp said it was examining a recapitalisation or a debt restructuring "given the cost of debt and maturity of its credit lines."

It will also weigh cost cuts and the sale of assets in areas such as post-production or its film catalogue.

EuropaCorp said it would aim to produce two to three English-language feature films each year, and two French language films.

Besson, whose titles include the suave thrillers "Nikita" and "Leon: The Professional", created the studio in 1999 and it long raked in profits from producing hits like "The Transporter" and "Taken".

But the "Valerian" misfire hit the studio hard after a record loss of €120 million ($143 million) in its full year to March 31, 2017.

Last year the Chinese production house Fundamental Films invested €60 million in the studio, becoming its second-largest shareholder.

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