After a turbulent 12 months, Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp came out fighting on Wednesday [May 4] with the announcement of a four-year strategic action plan it hopes will return it to profit in 2011/12 and puts the accent on increased TV production and international sales.
“Today is our official 10th birthday,” Besson said. “We would have liked to have celebrated it with a great year, but instead we’ve just had the worst one in our short existence. The important thing is that we learn lessons from it.”
The presentation at the swanky Royal Monceau hotel off the Champs Elysées followed a stormy 12 months for the Paris-based mini-major, which saw the acrimonious departure of co-founder Pierre-Ange Le Pogam as well as profit warnings at the end of April.
Besson said the recent changes to personnel at the company were the result of a year-long analysis, prompted by poor results in the 2009/10 period.
“About six, eight months ago, I decided we needed to change the management team… It was a gamble but a gamble that up until now I am happy with,” Besson said.
New faces alongside Besson on stage included the director general Christophe Lambert, general secretary Emmanuelle Mignon, financial director Carole Ferrand, who started work on May 2, and marketing director Franco De Cesare.
EuropaCorp old-timers also present included operations director Philippe Kaempf, the joint heads of EuropaCorp Television Thomas Anargyros and Edouard de Vésinne, director of sales Marie-Laure Montironi, Nathalie Bloch Lainé as head of acquisitions and project development and Veronique Philibert-Philbois as director of licences and live entertainment.
Key planks of the action plan, outlined at length by Lambert, include an increase in television production to account for 30% of the company’s activity by 2014 against nine percent today and an increase in the revenues from international sales to account for 65% of turnover by 2014, against 35 percent today.
Lambert said that as well as producing more television series for the domestic French market, the company was keen to export its franchises. He highlighted the upcoming television series remake of Transporter, which is due to start shooting at the end of May, as an example of the sort of operation EuropaCorp wants to repeat. The English-language film, which was recently boarded by HBO and Cinemax, has a €30m price tag and has been fully financed.
In terms of increasing international sales, Lambert said that from now on at least 30% of EuropaCorp films would be English-language productions. He said the company was currently negotiating output deals in Japan, Scandinavia and the US along the lines of the Universum deal in Germany. It was also mulling over plans to open its own distribution arms in Russia, Italy and the UK.
He added that that company was also keen to build on the success of EuropaCorp films in China and to that end would shortly announce a distribution deal with a Chinese distributor.
There were few surprises in the announced film line-up for 2011/12, which thus far comprises 11 confirmed titles including four English-language titles: Colombiana, The Lady, Lock Out and Taken II, which Besson confirmed will star Liam Leeson and is due to start shooting in November with Olivier Megaton directing.
Looking further ahead, Lambert said the company was in the early stages of developing a 3D blockbuster for production in 2012, with the aim of producing it with a US studio.
“From now on and starting today we will not announce projects until they are properly financed,” Besson said, when pressed for more details.