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Luc Besson's EuropaCorp production company has fallen on hard times of late. The failure of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the most expensive film in French history, along with some other disappointing performers, has resulted in the company having to lay off employees and sell off assets. But don't count the French director and EuropaCorp out just yet. The future could still hold more of the director and studio's unique storytelling, as Luc Besson and EuropaCorp are in talks to partner with Netflix on a multi-picture deal.
The deal, which is currently in discussions, would have Luc Besson, perhaps best known for directing Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, direct and produce several movies for Netflix over the next few years. According to Variety, the movies would fall under the Netflix originals distinction and would have budgets of around $30 million. Beyond just having Luc Besson direct Netflix originals, the potential deal has expanded to include the streaming company possibly buying into EuropaCorp's library, which includes the Taken and Transporter franchises and is valued at $186 million. It is, however, unknown at this time if the terms of the deal would allow EuropaCorp to produce films for other partners or whether the Netflix originals would only be English-language films. Netflix isn't the only player in the game either, as there are other potential buyers and investors like Lionsgate circling the struggling, yet valuable EuropaCorp.
The films that Luc Besson would make under this deal would not be quite so lavish and expensive as Valerian, which cost $177 million. Thus a sequel to that valiant effort on Netflix seems unlikely without a major cost reduction. But EuropaCorp's most successful effort in recent years was the Scarlett Johansson-led sci-fi film, Lucy. That film made $463 million worldwide on a budget of only $40 million. That's likely the sort of thing that appeals to Netflix. Having Luc Besson bring that sort of high-concept, mid-budget film to the streaming service has serious potential to generate buzz. Netflix is becoming a many-tentacled beast these days and continues to pursue wide-appeal content, as well as prestigious fare like Mudbound, that nets the service Oscar nominations.
Beyond just new Netflix original films, the EuropaCorp franchises are extremely valuable, and those rights would allow Netflix to produce films and TV series with name recognition and global appeal. Netflix understands the importance of powerful brands in today's marketplace, and EuropaCorp has several that have found audiences worldwide. Luc Besson arguably misses as much as he hits, but if nothing else he is a visionary and creative director who has given some truly beloved cult classics. With any luck, if this deal goes through, the French director will have the opportunity to create some really unique mid-budget films that might prove difficult within the traditional studio system. Luc Besson's next film, titled Anna, stars Cillian Murphy, Luke Evans and Helen Mirren, and it is currently filming.