Philippe Hellman's specialist acquisitions and production outfit UGC Ph has struck an output deal with Luc Besson's new company Europa Corp, to handle French theatrical distribution.
Hellman, who is a co-founder of UGC, previously released his films through UFD, a joint venture between UGC and 20th Century Fox.
The first titles to be handled by Europa are Peter Howitt's Tim Robbins-starrer AntiTrust (MGM-Intermedia Films), Hyde Park Entertainment's Mickael Cristofer-directed Original Sin (MGM) featuring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie, One Night At McCool's (Good Machine International) directed by Harald Zwart and featuring Liv Tyler and Matt Dillon and Hong Kong title The Legend Of Zu. The pictures are also the first third party films to be handled by Europa, which is currently riding high with the Besson-produced Yamakasi. That has scored 1.78m admissions after three weeks.
Hellman said he had not fallen out with UFD, but said that it has a very heavy release schedule of some 31 films this year.
Europa was formed as a production, sales and distribution operation by Besson and former Gaumont distribution chief Pierre-Ange Le Pogam.
As a producer, Besson has already scored two hits, with Taxi (6.5 million admissions in 1998) and Taxi 2 (10 million tickets sold in 2000) and the first two titles produced and distributed under the Europa banner (Yamakasi and 15 Aout) were topping the French charts last week.
Upcoming Europa-produced titles include the Jet Li-starrer Kiss Of The Dragon and Taxi 3, which is now in preparation.
Europa's titles are handled on the French home video market by PFE Video, a joint venture headed by Pauline Grimaldi which unites Pathe, Fox and Europa.