BREAKING: In a deal worth $130 million, EuropaCorp has bought its way into a joint venture with Relativity that will give it access and better control of the domestic distribution of its films. This comes after Luc Besson and Christophe Lambert’s France-based company waged a long courtship for Millennium Entertainment to serve that function. Lambert told Deadline that pursuit ended two months ago, and instead the accord was reached with Relativity, which released EuropaCorp’s black comedy The Family and this week distributes the Kevin Costner action film Three Days To Kill, with Brick Mansions coming later this year.
Under terms of the deal, EuropaCorp will pay $130 million over six years for a half share in the distribution venture that Relativity has had since it bought Overture and built it into the Relativity releasing arm. Both companies will use the distribution apparatus for its own films, and EuropaCorp will put up its own P&A as it uses Relativity’s marketing operation. The anticipation is that the relationship will build to where the companies will work together to coproduce and cofinance projects together, and that Relativity will tap EuropaCorp’s releasing resources abroad.
“It was critical for us in the next step for the company to have greater control in the domestic release of our films,” said Lambert. “This is a huge opportunity for us.” The prolific EuropaCorp has several movies spoken for in other places, including the Scarlett Johansson-starrer Lucy, which Besson will direct and which will be released by Universal. The company is readying a fresh crop of films for production, and Lambert envisions the first releases in this new joint venture coming as soon as early next year.
Relativity president Tucker Tooley said the ambition is for this relationship to grow beyond what they announced today.
“This relationship with Luc and Christophe was an outgrowth of The Family and Three Days To Kill, and this became a creative solution to address their needs for control on their releases,” Tooley told Deadline. “The focus for us was, how do we maximize the capacity of our platform to create new opportunities for Relativity while maintaining the autonomy that we’ve had as a distributor and create more opportunities to work with EuropaCorp from a co-finance standpoint, and other opportunities that weren’t contemplated in this specific deal.
“We released nine films last year, we are on pace for nine or ten this year, and the ambition is to grow that to 15 before too long,” Tooley said. “We have a great group in place and the ability to compete on a level of the major studios in terms of capacity, but not with the risk all being held by Relativity. The EuropaCorp movies are going out under their banner and they put up the P&A. There isn’t necessarily a risk profile to Relativity on their movies, and there isn’t a risk profile for them on ours. But there is an opportunity to co-invest in each other’s films. If the next Taken or Transporter franchises come along, that’s something we certainly would have wanted to be part of several years ago when those franchises launched. We look forward to being part of the next ones in the future. Also, the barriers of entry into distribution into European market are very high, it’s the golden goose. We feel this relationship with EuropaCorp is the gateway there in terms of what they can do on the platform and in what we can do together. We are excited by all these possibilities.”