Luc Besson's studio considering debt restructuring

PARIS • Luck is not with Luc Besson. The French film-maker's production studio said over the weekend 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, in summer.

Although it brought in more than US$225 million (S$303 million), a poor performance in the huge American market left Besson's EuropaCorp struggling to make up for the US$177 million it cost to produce - an astronomical sum for a French production.

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

EuropaCorp said it was examining a recapitalisation or a debt restructuring. It will also weigh cost cuts and sale of assets in areas such as post-production or its film catalogue.

The company would aim to produce two to three English-language feature films each year, and two French-language ones.

Besson, whose movies include suave thrillers Nikita (1990) and Leon: The Professional (1994), created the studio in 1999.

It raked in profits from producing hits such as The Transporter (2002) and Taken (2008).

But the Valerian misfire hit the studio hard after a record loss of US$143 million in its full year to March 31. Last year, Chinese production house Fundamental Films became its second-largest shareholder.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2017, with the headline 'Luc Besson's studio considering debt restructuring'. Print Edition | Subscribe