Following the failure of ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’, Luc Besson‘s French independent studio EuropaCorp was in danger of going under. The company was struggling to find a major investor or even a buyer to salvage it and now it appears that Netflix may have come to the rescue. The streaming service is in talks with Besson to produce a series of original movies over the next several years, budgeted in the $30 million range. (‘Valerian”s production budget is rumored to have been roughly $200M.) EuropaCorp is reportedly in the hole for about $285M.
As part of the deal, Netflix would also acquire rights to EuropaCorp’s library which includes the ‘Taken’, ‘Taxi’ and ‘Transporter’ franchises and is said to be valued at around $186M. The library is currently frozen in escrow, held by EuropaCorp’s major investor JP Morgan.
At this point, Netflix is just “in talks.” Businessman Tarak Ben Ammar and Lionsgate are also said to be interested in acquiring part or all of EuropaCorp. If Netflix buys out or into EurpaCorp, it will be its second such move, after the bought comic book writer Mark Millar’s Millarworld last year.
EuropaCorps movies are sometimes popular in the United States, but they are mainly aimed at the international market. They currently have theatrical distribution deals with China’s Fundamental, Germany’s Universum, Belgium’s Belga, the Middle East’s Falcon and Scandinavia’s Scanbox. Depending on how things work out, these deals could be terminated with Besson and EuropaCorp’s projects going straight to streaming. Many of these deals were due to expire fairly soon anyway. The exception is Fundamental, which is currently the second-biggest investor in the studio and is based in China, where Netflix is blocked.
As part of its struggles, EuropaCorp sold its European television division for about $13.6M last year, although they retained its American counterpart, which was responsible for the poorly-received ‘Taken’ TV series which aired on NBC. EuropaCorp announced plans to lay off 22 employees out of 79.
As for Besson, he is continuing to move forward. He is now directing the thriller ‘Anna’ with Helen Mirren, Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy and is prepping the TV movie, ‘The French Detective’ starring Jean Dujardin.
Are you a fan of Besson’s output? Are you looking forward to possibly seeing more thanks to Netflix?