France’s Luc Besson seeks cash as film studio stumbles

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.

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.