Vivendi Universal and Canal Plus have signed a three-year, ten picture deal with Luc Besson's company Europa Corp. The partnership also includes the use by Universal Music and Universal Studios of Besson's own high-tech facilities Digital Factory.

The amount represented by the various deals remained undisclosed. Vivendi Universal chairman and CEO, Jean-Marie Messier, underlined that the most important element of the deal was creativity, stressing that : "Behind (the deal) there is a notion which is dear to both of us: claiming our French roots loud and clear."

On the production side the deal will include Europa Corp's upcoming projects Taxi 3, the sequel to the two highly successful 1998 and 2000 action comedies (over 10 million tickets sold for last year's French chart-topper Taxi 2), swashbuckling epic Fanfan La Tulipe, car racing flick Michel Vaillant, Corey Yuen's The Transporter, Special Police, Le Bonheur Ne Coute Rien as well as two animated features, Arthur and Ektor, and Besson's next film.

For the duration of the deal, Canal Plus will have a first look at any further titles produced by Europa, outside of the ten pictures deal. The first films turned out by the production and distribution company founded last year by Besson and former Gaumont principal Pierre-Ange Le Pogam -- Jet Li-starrer Kiss Of The Dragon, Yamakasi and 15 Aout -- have performed well at the box office, all three titles passing the one million admissions mark.

The other side of the two-pronged partnership involves Besson's Normandy-based digital facilites, Vivendi Universal contributing to the building of a massive sound studio. "The most advanced and the largest in Europe." said Messier, who added that the complex, which is situated on Besson's own property, would be "better than George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch"