Luc Besson’s beleaguered film production and distribution company EuropaCorp announced on Monday that it could axe 22 posts from its operations in France.
“EuropaCorp began a consultation process with staff representatives on 11th January to put in place a new structure in France,” the company said in a statement.
“If the plan were adopted, the workforce in France would number 57 personnel once it has been carried out,” it added.
The company said that such a workforce would correspond to its operational needs as it puts in place a strategy – announced end-November - to re-focus on its core activities of film production, TV series and international sales.
Under that strategy, EuropaCorp plans to produce two to three English-language features and up to two French-language films annually.
The strategy also envisaged continued involvement in English-language TV series even though the company had sealed a deal for the sale of its TV arm EuropaCorp Television to its long-time managing director Thomas Anargyros for €11m on the eve of the November strategy statement.
The company also said in November it was considering off-loading more non-core assets – such as its post-production activities and its Roissy Films library – having sold its exhibition and music rights interests in 2017 although it stressed that no firm decisions had been made at that point.
The strategy comes as the company retrenches in a bid to rein in debts linked to the disappointing global performances of Besson’s big sci-fi tale Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets and English-language US productions such as Miss Sloane and Their Finest.
According to its results for the first half of 2017, released mid-December, the company generated a 77.5% increase in turnover, which came in at €138.1m for the first six months of the year, but posted a €70.6m loss after costs for the period, against a €27.6m loss in the same period in 2016.
In spite of the worse-than-expected global performance its recent films, EuropaCorp still came out as France’s top film exporter in 2017 in terms of the international box office achieved by the French majority and minority French productions on it sales slate.
Valerian came in as France’s top export with 31.4m admissions worldwide although this paled in comparison to the performance of its past English-language blockbusters Lucy and Taken 3.
In the backdrop, company founder and creative chief Besson - who took over as interim CEO at end of last year following the planned departure of Marc Shmuger - has been pressing on with the shoot of his upcoming English-language thriller Anna starring Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy.
The EuropaCorp sales team will be present at Unifrance’s Rendez-vous with French cinema this week, market premiering Jean-Paul Améris’s comedy-drama I Feel Fine, starring Eric Elmosnino as man desperately seeking a cure for his bad back, and Samuel Jouy’s Mathieu Kassovitz-starrer Sparring, which debuted at Locarno.
The company will also be present in official selection at the Berlinale this year with Benoît Jacquot’s Eva – starring Gaspard Ulliel as a young writer who falls for a mysterious femme fatale played by Isabelle Huppert - which will premiere in competition.
Upcoming English-language titles on EuropaCorp’s production and sales slate include Russian submarine drama Kursk directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Colin Firth and Léa Seydoux.