Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has launched an LA-based acquisitions arm to be run by Federica Sainte-Rose. As Head of Worldwide Acquisitions she will report to EuropaCorp CEO, Christophe Lambert. Also joining the department is former FilmNation exec John Zois as Director of Worldwide Acquisitions. The move to create a new division is part of Europa’s deeper push into the domestic U.S. market. It follows Europa’s deal with Relativity under which it bought into a joint venture, Red, giving it access and better control of the distribution of its movies. At Cannes, the Euro studio also unveiled a five-year, $450M JPMorgan-led credit facility to fund production and P&A for a slate of eight English-language commercial films released through that jv. That was a few months after it hired Lisa Ellzey as EVP of U.S. Motion Picture Production. The new acquisitions team will focus on films for domestic distribution through Red, as well as multi-territory film rights including France. They’ll be on the ground in Toronto.
Prior to joining EuropaCorp, Sainte-Rose was part of Universal’s worldwide acquisitions team and previously was Head of Acquisitions for Studiocanal. Lambert said today, “We are excited to welcome this amazing acquisitions team to the studio. EuropaCorp is becoming a new distribution alternative for filmmakers, who will benefit from close interaction with world class acquisitions and production executives as well as a robust marketing and distribution infrastructure both domestically and internationally.”
1973 Oscar Winner 'The Sting' Coming To The Great White Way
A musical version of Robert Redford starrer 'The Sting' is coming to Broadway in the latest film-to-stage adaptation. Chief theater columnist Jeremy Gerard reports.
UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS — EXCLUSIVE: Professor Harold Hill, Bill Starbuck, Max Bialystock — Broadway loves a con artist, especially one with a sense of humor. I’ve learned that the latest film tapped to tap its way to the Broadway stage is George Roy Hill’s 1973 Oscar winner The Sting. That was, of course, his second outing with the rainmaking team of Robert Redford and Paul Newman (after Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid in 1969). Set in Depression Era Chicago, the film set up Redford as a low-rent swindler who strikes a deal with Newman’s Mr. Big Time to set the stage for an elaborate revenge scam. The Sting won Oscars for Best Film along with director, screenplay (David S. Ward), costumes (Edith Head), editing (William Reynolds) and that sublime score, fashioned by the late Marvin Hamlisch with no small assist from Scott Joplin (among other things the film did so well was spark a resurgence of interest in ragtime music). Redford was a best-actor nominee.
The trio set to turn the movie into a stage show betrays a slightly cocky sensibility on behalf of the producing team headed by Broadway’s Araca Group (A Raisin In The Sun, Cinderella), newly-appointed EuropaCorp president Matt Gross’s Gross Entertainment (Body of Proof, Dirty Sexy Money, Across The Universe, ) and Universal Stage Productions (Bring It On: The Musical): Bob Martin, who won a Tony as co-writer of the nostalgia drenched The Drowsy Chaperone, will team with Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann, who won Tonys for the decidedly unconventional, entertainingly agitprop musical Urinetown, which recently opened in London. Read More »
As part of EuropaCorp‘s continued expansion, the French studio has named veteran executive producer Matthew Gross as President of EuropaCorp Television, U.S. Gross (Body Of Proof, Dirty Sexy Money) will lead the company’s development and production slate for the American market, while also taking an active role in production. EuropaCorp Television was founded in 2010 and now has credits that include international mini Flight Of The Storks and series No Limit. With the U.S. expansion, it will pursue co-productions with outside studios on a project-by-project basis. NBC recently acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to ECTV’s Taxi Brooklyn for a summer debut. The 12-episode action/comedy series is based on EuropaCorp founder Luc Besson‘s Taxi feature franchise. The hiring of Gross comes on the heels of Europa’s Cannes announcement that it has signed a $450M credit facility to build its slate of English-language features that will go through RED, its distribution co-venture with Relativity in the U.S.
Related: Cannes: EuropaCorp Leads Group Of French Companies Looking Abroad To Overcome Local Theatrical Biz Limitations
Gross has had an exclusive deal with ABC Studios since 2003 and is currently exec producing miniseries Sons Of Liberty for the History Channel and A+E Studios. He’s produced over 250 hours of television as well as the features Across The Universe, Fired Up! and Joe Somebody. He is … Read More »
Cannes for me is an exercise in chasing big-money movie deals, but I took the opportunity to meet several French companies to get a view of the business from their side of the pond. Compared to the problems I hear from Hollywood, these guys struggle for growth in a French theatrical system that seems completely preposterous to an Americain.
In Hollywood, they whine about how hard it is to get a movie made; about a weekend crowded with three new releases; the inefficiency of big P&A spends to advertise on TV to ensure moviegoers show up opening weekend; and the six-month wait for DVD and VOD. In France, a heavily subsidized system makes getting movies made the easy part. The downside: 15-18 films open week in and week out; TV advertising is outlawed, and the wait for DVD and VOD is an eternity compared to the U.S. Small wonder several of the major French companies are looking outside elsewhere for growth.
Related: Cannes: EuropaCorp Signs $450M Credit Facility To Finance English-Language Pics
For a company like Gaumont, that means supplementing Centrée Français fare by hatching U.S. market TV hits like Hannibal. Wild Bunch’s core business is backing gutsy films like Blue Is The Warmest Color, but at this Cannes, the company created a stir showing a film before its precedent-setting straight-to-VOD release. Welcome To New York is Abel Ferrara’s lurid drama that stars Gerard Depardieu as a crass, horny money man based on former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who cut a decadent swath around the world before being arrested for allegedly mauling a maid in a New York hotel. Because Wild Bunch bypassed theaters, it could spend $1 million on TV ads, creating more awareness than if it had gone theatrical and could not advertise. Success will mean more films with bigger stars test this new market and that could be as disruptive to France’s arcane theatrical machine as the current crop of pay and cable TV series like True Detective feel compared to the derivative product churned out by Hollywood movie studios.
Related: Cannes: Abel Ferrara’s Sex Scandal Pic ‘Welcome To New York’ Penetrates La Plage
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Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp has signed with J.P. Morgan, SunTrust Bank and OneWest Bank on a five-year, $450M credit facility. The line, along with a $100M accordion, will be used to finance the studio’s existing credit facility of 105M euros. This is part of EuropaCorp’s plan to expand and will be used to finance a slate of English-language films to be released through its joint distribution venture with Relativity which was formed earlier this year. It will also fund Europacorp’s marketing spend on its projects. Plans are to go from releasing three to eight movies per year. The studio will also make four French-language pics per annum. Read More »
There have been whispers that Tommy Lee Jones‘ The Homesman is heading to Cannes. That’s not a bad projection to make, considering that his previous directorial oater The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada — which, like Homesmen was produced by Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp — debuted on the Croisette in 2005. Adapted from Glendon Swarthout’s novel, The Homesman follows pioneer woman Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), who with the help of a claim jumper (Jones), escorts three insane women across Nebraska territory. I had the privilege in February of attending a scoring session for the film by Oscar-nominated composer Marco Beltrami with Jones in attendance. It’s the third time Jones has tapped Beltrami for his films, and with good reason: He savors the composer’s talent for designing and using eclectic instruments in his scores. In musically personifying the film’s crazed women against a windy landscape, Beltrami built what is akin to an Aeolian wind harp at his mountaintop Malibu studio. Beltrami’s homemade instrument consists of several feet of piano wire, connected between an old saloon piano atop a metal freighter, and a water tank atop a hill. As Beltrami plunked at the piano, his fellow musician took a huge bow to the piano wire. The result: a haunting, tinny, bellowing theme that rivals Ennio Morricone’s whistle tune from 1966′s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Beltrami’s music isn’t featured in the first trailer, however, it’s going to be a toss-up in terms of what is more sublime: His score or … Read More »
NBC has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to EuropaCorp Television‘s Taxi Brooklyn for a summer debut. The 12-episode action/comedy series is produced by showrunner Gary Scott Thompson (Las Vegas, The Fast And The Furious) and based on Luc Besson‘s Taxi feature franchise. It stars Grey’s Anatomy alumna Chyler Leigh and Jacky Ido (Inglourious Basterds). Former Blue Bloods co-star Jennifer Esposito, Ally Walker (Profiler), James Colby (Person Of Interest), Bill Heck (Pan Am), Jose Zuniga (Body Of Proof) and Raul Casso (Blue Bloods) round out the cast. Formerly known as Taxi: Brooklyn South, Taxi Brooklyn was shot in English in the titular borough along with Manhattan and Queens. Leigh plays Detective Caitlyn “Cat” Sullivan, who is determined to find the truth about the death of her father, an NYPD detective who was killed in the line of duty. When her stubborn character and recklessness behind the wheel see her demoted to foot patrol, she teams with the highly skilled and charming Marseille-born cabbie Leo Romba. Realizing Leo lied on his immigration form, Cat offers him a deal: in exchange for his driving prowess and taxi, she will help Leo with his papers situation. He becomes her personal driver and police consultant as they race through the streets of New York City solving cases. Read More »
Los Angeles-based multi-platform media company Shout! Factory has acquired all U.S. and Canada distribution rights to EuropaCorp’s CG-animated family adventure film Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart. The movie, helmed by Dionysos lead singer Mathias Malzieu and music video director Stéphane Berla in their feature debut, is produced by Virginie Besson-Silla and Luc Besson’s Europa. Shout! is planning a theatrical, VOD, SVOD, EST and TV rollout later this year. The company previously released Europa’s animated A Monster In Paris. Jack was adapted by Malzieu from his own 2007 novel and the gold-selling Dionysos album from the same year. The fairy tale is set in late-19th century Edinburgh where Little Jack is born on a day so cold that his heart remains frozen. His life is saved by inserting a cuckoo clock in its place, but it will work only if he observes three golden rules: He must never touch the hands of the clock, he must control his anger and he must never fall in love. When Jack sets eyes on a young girl singing on a street corner, the hands of his clock-heart begin to race and he heads out on a romantic quest that will take him from Scotland, to Paris to Andalusia. The English voice cast features Orlando Seale and Les Misérables’ Samantha Barks. The French version was released locally on February 5, to … Read More »
McG‘s darkly comic action thriller follows a Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) who comes out of retirement for one last mission in exchange for access to an experimental drug –administered by Amber Heard — that could save his life. Hallucinatory action ensues as he tries to complete the mission while battling the drug’s side effects and, for good measure, trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) while his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) is out of town. Got all that? Luc Besson and Adi Hasak wrote Relativity Media’s 3 Days To Kill, which Besson produced with Ryan Kavanaugh. Marc Libert and Tucker Tooley are executive producers. Here’s the new trailer:
New Study Looks At Entertainment Media Consumption In The Middle East
Northwestern University in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute are partnering on a research project to explore trends in entertainment media consumption in the Middle East. The survey research will cover entertainment, culture, and sports in six countries including Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Tunisia. The aim is to learn more about media use and society in the post-Arab Spring era. “The changing social currents in the Middle East have generated a significant shift in what audiences consume, want, and consider appropriate entertainment, but there is not a lot of recorded data to understand these issues in detail,” said Abdulaziz Al-Khater, CEO of the Doha Film Institute. “Producing quantitative knowledge on the subject will help members of the industry make better-informed decisions.”
Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Kevin Spacey Among Theatre Awards Honorees
Helen Mirren has scooped yet another prize for playing Queen Elizabeth II. The actress won the top award at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards on Sunday for her role in the West End play The Audience. She previously won an Olivier Award for the role (and an Oscar for playing the monarch in 2007’s The Queen). Best actor was a tie between Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear, for their respective performances as Shakespeare’s Othello and Iago at the National Theatre. Other nods went to Maggie … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I am hearing that Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp is the lead horse in the quest to acquire Millennium Entertainment, the distribution arm of Avi Lerner‘s Nu Image/Millennium Films empire that was put on the selling block last April. The division, which is run by Bill Lee, retained Los Angeles-based investment bank Salem Partners in April to broker a deal. Lerner owns 60% of the company, Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media has a 20% stake and the hedge fund Prentice Capital owns the other 20%. I’m told that there might be one or more other bidders in the mix, but it looks like the deal is EuroCorp’s for the taking and that they are close. Besides a distribution operation, Millennium owns a film library with 665 titles and, according to the company’s release announcing the sale last April, has strong relationships with big three theater chains AMC, Regal and Landmark as well as retails outlets like Walmart, Target, iTunes, and Netflix, and cable systems for its VOD-centric titles. Recent films on the release schedule include What Maisie Knew, the Michael Shannon-starrer The Iceman, the Shia LaBeouf-starrer Charlie Countryman, the James Franco-directed As I Lay Dying and the Woody Allen-starrer Fading Gigolo, directed by John Turturro.
EXCLUSIVE: Signaling an intention by EuropaCorp to ramp up Stateside production, principals Luc Besson and CEO Christophe Lambert have set veteran production executive and producer Lisa Ellzey to join EuropaCorp as executive vice president of U.S. Motion Picture Production. Ellzey, a Golden Globe and Emmy-winning producer, most recently was executive vice president of production at Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox. She will report directly to Lambert. I’ve heard EuropaCorp’s intention will be to generate as many as five film projects per year here when things get up and running. The company is very prolific from its base in France. Read More »
File this one under, exclusive, my ass. Back in early August, Deadline broke the story that Kevin Costner would star in Three Days to Kill, and also told you that McG was going to direct and Relativity Media would distribute in North America, with Luc Besson writing the script with Adi Hasak and producing through his Europacorp. We even told you Costner would star in the France-set action film as Ethan Renner, a government assassin who is dying and wants to reconcile with his daughter while taking on one final mission. This was in a story about how he would join the Jack Ryan picture, and how good it would be to see him back in the action fold after Hatfields & McCoys.
Two months later, Variety is breathlessly claiming an exclusive just because Relativity decided to leak a press release (the company has been leaking heavily in the last 24 hours), by revealing only that the film has no title. Here is Relativity’s press release.
(Beverly Hills, Calif.) October 2, 2012 – EuropaCorp and Relativity Media have closed deals with Oscar®-Winner Kevin Costner (The Bodyguard, Dances With Wolves, Open Range) to star as the lead in this upcoming gripping action tale with McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation) attached to direct from a screenplay by Luc Besson (Taken, Transporter) and Adi Hasak (From Paris With Love). The two companies will work in tandem throughout the creative and production process on
… Read More »
Luc Besson’s films have long been big in Japan. Now, the French multi-hyphenate is looking to establish a footprint in China. Besson’s studio, EuropaCorp, today said it has signed an exclusive co-production and distribution pact with Shanghai-based Fundamental Films. The 3-year output deal covers at least 15 Europa films to be released theatrically in China as well as a commitment from Fundamental to co-produce 3 of the 15 titles. The first picture to be released under the deal is the Besson-directed Malavita with Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro and the recently added Dianna Agron and John D’Leo. Deal terms also allow for Europa to handle 3 Chinese films on the international market. Headed by entrepreneur Mark Gao, Fundamental’s previous local releases have included Limitless, Killer Elite and The Grey.
Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp will head to Berlin’s European Film Market with a couple of hot English-language titles, including Enemy Of The State and Live Free Or Die Hard writer David Marconi’s second outing as director, Intersection. Paris-based Europa is currently in production on the thriller that Marconi also penned. Frank Grillo, who’s been making a name for himself with recent turns in The Grey, Warrior and the upcoming Gangster Squad, stars alongside Roschdy Zem (Days Of Glory); Marie-Josée Croze (Tell No One, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly); and Charlie Bewley, who plays Demetri in the Twilight movies. The story centers on a rich and beautiful couple on their honeymoon in Morocco. After escaping a deadly multi-car pileup at a desert intersection, the group of survivors — including a wanted smuggler, an undercover cop, a kidnapper, a baby and an unconscious Australian — embark on a journey of deceit and revelation that culminates in a Tangiers souk. Delivery is for fourth quarter this year. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Angelina Jolie is in talks to star in an untitled big-scale movie written and directed by Luc Besson. Besson currently has The Lady in the Oscar mix, but this film sounds like a closer cousin to early Besson efforts like The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element.
I’m told that there are serious talks going on for Jolie to star next spring in a dramatic thriller that is rooted in true scientific elements. Besson’s EuropaCorp developed it and will co-finance, and negotiations are already underway with a studio for domestic distribution. The Besson film would be Jolie’s next as an actress, and it would come before she teams with director Ridley Scott on a historical epic about Gertrude Bell that The Constant Gardener scribe Jeffrey Caine is currently rewriting. I’m told there’s a high likelihood that both films will land at the same studio. Read More »
A U.S. broadcaster is already on board the new Transporter TV show, based on the hit movie franchise from Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp movie factory. EuropaCorp won’t say who the US partner is, “but it’s a big one,” chairman Pierre-Ange Le Pogam tells me. Shooting on the $48 million 12-part series will start early next year, with the first episodes being delivered early November. French producer Lagardere Entertainment is fully-financing the show, having licensed The Transporter from EuropaCorp. Jason Statham starred in all three Transporter movies as the driver who delivers anything, anywhere – no questions asked. CW recently gave a full-season order to Nikita, another TV show based on a EuropaCorp franchise. EuropaCorp is also thinking about a Taken TV series, but only after Taken 2 begins filming in the spring with Liam Neeson. Le Pogam says they’re still locking down who the director will be.
Both shows are part of EuropaCorp’s push into TV production. Paris-based animation house Zagtoon is adapting another Besson movie, Arthur and the Invisibles, as a $13 million animated TV series. Le Pogam said he wanted to get 10-year-old EuropaCorp into TV as a way of smoothing out the company’s revenues. Being a publicly-quoted company on the Paris Stock Exchange doesn’t sit well with the ups-and-downs of the movie business. EuropaCorp made its first-ever net loss of €9.8 million ($13 million) during the 2009/10 financial year. … Read More »