Luc Besson's Europa Corp has launched a rights, marketing and distribution venture in Japan to grow the company's business in the territory and to 'assist' the distribution of a number of Japanese films in France.

Europa Corp Japan, which launched on April 19, is a joint venture backed by Europa Corp, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Kadokawa Books, Sumitomo Corporation and Cinemagate.

Europa Corp and Asmik Ace each invested 35%, with the other parties each contributing 10% of the company's start-up capital of $760,000 (Y100m).

The company will manage all Japanese rights for Europa's upcoming releases as well as handling future French-Japanese co-productions initiated by Besson.

Europa Corp Japan is to release three Besson-produced titles including Gerard Krawczyk's Taxi 3, Cory Yuen and Louis Leterrier's The Transporter, and Vincent Perez's Peau d'Ange later this year.

Future titles will include Berivie Bonvoisin's Blanche, Mimmo Calopresti's La Felicita Non Costa Niente, and Fanfan La Tuliep directed by Gerard Krawczyk and produced by Besson (currently in pre-production), which are all scheduled to be released in 2003.