Euro Beat: Luc Besson's Company Accused of Embezzlement, Takes Legal Action

Editor-at-Large; Los Angeles (@
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In today's Euro Beat: All is not fine in Luc Besson's giant European Hollywood complex. Or maybe it actually is fine and the journalists are the ones to blame! Either way, law suits are coming. Also, the Rome Film Festival chose some exciting films to award, including Kiyoshi Kurosawa's latest, plus, learn about the new film that has almost all of Italy rushing to the cinema. Like, literally all of Italy. 

It was just a little more than a year ago when director Luc Besson unveiled his European answer to Hollywood, Cite du Cinema. Located just outside of Paris, the $200 million, state-of-the-art film studio was built to allow European films to mount productions that could compete with the U.S. Now, Besson and his company EuropaCorp have become embroiled in still-developing judicial action resulting from allegations that they've embezzled public funds through the mega-studio.

This weekend, French newspaper Le Parisien (which, for the record, is more New York Post than New York Times) ran an article alleging that EuropaCorp may be under investigation by the justice ministry following a memo sent to minister Christiane Taubira in regards to an audit investigation. According to the newspaper, the memo said that EuropaCorp's financing of Cite du cinema was nothing less than embezzlement of public funds.

The report goes on to allege that the project was funded "against the advice of government services" because of former EuropacCorp CEO Christophe Lambert's inside track with Nicolas Sarkozy. So, embezzlement in this case means putting public funds into something that functions like a private company acting in its own interest.

The night after the article appeared, the EuropaCorp fired back, saying they were astonished by the charges, did not have knowledge of the audit court report and that they haven't been questioned by anyone. And, to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, they are now suing both the newspaper and the reporter for defamation.

So far the most major films to shoot at the studio have been Besson's own The Family and McG's upcoming 3 Days to Kill.

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Checco ZaloneCite du CinemaEuro BeatEuropean Box OfficeEuropean Film NewsLuc BessonRome Film FestivalSole a catinelle

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Elia DevecchiNovember 19, 2013 1:07 PM

Regarding Zalone, I think you guys are safe, as I can't really see his brand of comedic plague leaving the national borders. It's a quite country-specific film, and so generally crappy that there's no real need for other markets to import it: it's really the kind of crud that most nations produce for internal consumption. It's also not the first phenomenon of this kind to creep out of Italian comedy's perpetually prolapsing rectum, and none of these things have ever had any commercial life abroad.

But hey, it's moving money for struggling theaters, right? Yep, sure, but it also came out with an unprecedented 1000+screens release blitzkrieg (a near monopoly), introducing a new, incredibly myopic commercial strategy to a long-suffering sector. Given the result, they'll certainly try it again asap, and if the chosen product fails to rake in this kind of money...

So yeah, it's a shitty film with a potentially evil legacy. I'm glad people have found something to smile at during these harsh times, but...fucking hell.

Brian ClarkNovember 20, 2013 1:31 PM

Hey! Thank you for the eloquent, first hand insight into the takover of Italy by Zalone. This all makes perfect sense... based on that still.