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Luc Besson’s ambition: EuropaCorp as a European major for the 21st century

Vanderschelden, Isabelle (2009) Luc Besson’s ambition: EuropaCorp as a European major for the 21st century. Studies in European Cinema, 5 (2). pp. 91-104. ISSN 2040-0594

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Created in 2000 by Luc Besson et al., EuropaCorp has within five years become a unique European production group comparable with American majors, yet innovative in its production and distribution models. It is associated with ‘French’ films with international appeal, which favour formulaic generic conventions at the expense of aesthetic elements that once counted as the essence of French cinema. Luc Besson’s central role as Chairman of the board of EuropaCorp, producer,scriptwriter and director in some cases should not be underestimated in the development of the group and its strategies. His ambition to endow French cinema with an image of economic competitiveness is exemplified by commercial ventures like Danny the dog/Unleashed, Banlieue 13/B.13, the Taxi and Transporter franchises, and more recently Arthur et les Minimoys. This article argues that some EuropaCorp films illustrate the shift from ‘national to postnational’ identified since the end of the 1990s by a number of scholars in the context of the reevaluation of French cinema from a ‘prestigious artistic brand’ to factors of economic prosperity of an industry (Danan 2006). However, EuropaCorp also produces more confidential projects which do not fit in this picture, which suggests that the international hits might help to finance French auteur films with small budgets. EuropaCorp thus constitutes a valid case study for one possible response of the French cinema industry to the pressures of globalisation.

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