French major Gaumont is pinning its hopes on a string of forthcoming films to improve its bottom line - after revealing that it had lost millions of Euros on its latest film at the French box office.

On Monday, the company unveiled a net loss of Euros 2.6m in the first half of 2003 compared with Euros 9.3m in the same period last year.

Gaumont noted that it was hit particularly hard by the poor performance of Christian Clavier comedy Lovely Rita. The film was released on Sept 23, and took just $578,916 in its first week.

In a statement, Gaumont explained it would post a Euros 5.2m loss on the film because "receipts would not cover the film's costs."

Gaumont has fallen on hard times in terms of production in recent years. It has had a string of bad years with misses such as Just Visiting, the American version of hit French film The Visitors.

Coupled with a poor line up, some key in house producers have also left the company including Luc Besson and Alain Goldman as well as director Francis Veber whose next comedy is coming out later this month under UGC.

Distribution via subsidiary Gaumont Buena Vista International and exhibition via Europalaces has had to make up for the disappointing fortunes of Gaumont's production arm.

Both divisions are partnerships, the former with Buena Vista and the latter with Pathe.

However, this year holds some possible winners in store. Michel Boujenah's Pere Et Fils has already passed the one million tickets sold mark. Claude Zidi's hotly anticipated Ripoux 3, which reunites Philippe Noiret and Thierry Lhermitte in the cult classic series, will be released by year's end.

Gaumont also noted the completion of principal photography on upcoming films Qui Perd Gagne by Laurent Benegui and Albert Est Mechant from Herve Palud.

L'Enquete Corse, an adaptation of the comic book series starring Jean Reno and Christian Clavier began shooting last month.