Movies can be a risky business. After all, this is an industry that routinely puts tens of millions of dollars on the line, with the success or failure of any given film resting on any number of factors, both tangible and otherwise. Of course, we’re used to thinking of these risks in terms of an individual’s career (“How does Jai Courteney keep getting work?”) or massive the massive, multinational corporations that are the biggest studios (witness Sony’s bungled attempts at franchise building, from ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ to the ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot). But what about the smaller (relatively speaking) production companies, those that might have to stake more to worry about than a disappointing quarter if a movie underperforms?
That, of course, brings us to Luc Besson, or more accurately, to EuropaCorp. It’s been a rough couple years for Besson’s production company, partly thanks to ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘, which struggled to break even at the box office. That was a project that had a lot riding on it, but it wasn’t alone. The same year also saw ‘The Circle‘ underperform. That, along with the fortunes of some lower profile releases has left the production company in somewhat dire straits. Whatever the reason, EuropaCorp’s feature releases simply aren’t connecting with US audiences, in particular, the way the company needs them to be.
And all of this trouble is starting to catch up to them. According to Deadline, EuropaCorp posted revenues of $158 million for the six month period ending in September of 2017 (the period encompassing the theatrical release of ‘Valerian’). The same period this year saw a considerable decrease, with reported revenues of $91 million. And it’s not just the lukewarm reception of their recent films that are to blame for the company’s current financial woes, as Besson was accused earlier this year of sexual misconduct by five women. For his part, Besson denies the allegations, though they unsurprisingly sent stock prices plummeting nonetheless.
So things aren’t looking good on a number of fronts, but what are they planning to do about it? Well, on the one hand, the fallout of the accusations against Besson remains something of an open question at this point. On the business front, they’ve already sold off their French TV production arm with the stated intent of focusing on the development and production of English language shows. At present this includes a pair of comic adaptations (in the form of Howard Chaykin’s ‘American Flagg!’ and Jacques Tardi’s ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec’) as well as an original property, ‘Grey’, from novelist David Baldacci. There’s certainly potential there, but considering that EuropaCorp got into this mess partly thanks to a failure of their film offerings (most prominently ‘Valerian’ – itself adapted from a comic) to connect with Anglophone audiences.
Hopefully, these projects work out better, for their sake.