1270881 luc besson

Luc Besson’s embattled EuropaCorp cinema empire has mothballed its film production activities for the first time since it was created in 1999 as its attempts to restructure to rein in debts and find new investors.

The company’s new interim deputy CEO Régis Marillas revealed the production hiatus at a general shareholders meeting in Paris on Thursday (Sept 27), at which he was voted in for his new role, having previously acted as the company’s chief operating officer.

“There are no more shoots taking place although there are films and TV series in development,” Marillas was reported to have told shareholders by French media. “We’re going to produce a lot fewer films, by being more selective.”

He added the studio – which in the past has regularly produced features by other French and international directors – would be focusing on projects written and directed by Besson.

Extracts of Besson’s upcoming feature Anna, which has just finished post-production, were shown at the meeting but no release date was given.

Besson was not present at Thursday’s meeting in Paris, remaining in the US, which has been his official country of residence since 2014.

Company lawyer Arnaud de Senilhes rejected shareholder suggestions that he was staying away from France following a series of sexual assault allegations.

“Luc Besson isn’t in the United States to escape anything,” he said. ” It has nothing to do with his personal affairs. Luc Besson has been a US resident since 2014. He is the US to make English-language films, with American stars, it’s extremely difficult to do that in France.”

Marillas said the company’s hunt for fresh investors continued.

“EuropaCorp’s assets are still attractive. There are companies looking at EuropaCorp as a potential investment. Discussions are still ongoing but we’re not involved in exclusive negotiations with anyone,” he told shareholders. 

He said that in the meantime the company would continue with its restructuring plan which has seen it lay off staff and sell-off a number of non-core assets, including the potential sale of the catalogue of defunct French independent distribution company Roissy Films (which it acquired in 2007 as part of an expansion drive) to compatriot studio Gaumont.