Luc Besson's French powerhouse EuropaCorp has sealed a major reciprocal co-production and distribution deal with Italy's Rai Cinema.
The deal, valued at around Euros 7m-10m, involves six Europa pictures produced between 2003 and 2005: These are Cannes opener Fanfan La Tulipe, Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Bon Voyage, comic book adaptation Michel Vaillant, Bernie Bonvoisin's Blanche, and Moi Cesar.
Also on Europa and Rai Cinema's new joint slate is Danny The Dog, a $42m picture starring Jet Li and Morgan Freeman.
Rai Cinema's distribution arm, 01 Distribution, will be handling rights to all the above films in Italy.
Under their deal, Europa has also agreed to co-produce at least one Rai Cinema film each year, which EuropaCorp will distribute in France.
The deal was announced in Cannes by Europa's Pierre-Ange Le Pogam and Rai Cinema's Carlo Macchitella.
Until now, Rai Cinema's biggest European partner was StudioCanal- but that joint distribution deal for Italy runs out next month. After that date, 01 Distribution could carry on distributing on its own without an outside partner, Macchitella said.
"Both [Rai Cinema and EuropaCorp] affirm that this agreement is founded on a common production policy, capable of combining quality and market demand," said Macchitella, who is executive vice-president of Rai Cinema and president of 01 Distribution.
"Luc Besson's and EuropaCorp's experience prove just how possible it is to preserve the character and quality of European Cinema in the market context typical of American cinematography," he said.
"It confirms how American industrial policy could help European cinema gather new strengths."