Netflix is in talks with Luc Besson and EuropaCorp to have the French filmmaker and his company produce and/or direct original movies for the streaming giant over the next few years. The Besson negotiations are part of Netflix's larger bid to substantially increase the amount of original movies and TV shows that the service provides, in order to stay competitive in the increasingly crowded field of content streaming. Netflix plans to spend upwards of $8 billion on original content development in 2018 alone, which is actually up from the $6 billion that the company spent making films and TV series in 2017.
Among the storytellers that Netflix is either actively courting or has already recruited to the streaming side are Kick-Ass and Kingsman comic book series creator Mark Millar, Shondaland founder and master TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes, and Cloverfield and War for the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves. While most of these creatives have been successfully tempted into signing deals with Netflix thanks to the greater artistic freedom that the streaming giant offers (compared to longstanding film studios and TV networks), EuropaCorp is also mulling a deal as a way of addressing the heavy debt that it currently finds itself burdened with.
According to Variety, the deal would see Besson and EuropaCorp produce movies in the $30 million range under the Netflix original label. That also means that, unless Besson does some extreme cost cutting, the filmmaker would have to look elsewhere to make a sequel to his big-budgeted cosmic comic book adaptation (and commercial dud), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. In addition, the Netflix deal could ultimately give the company the rights to EuropaCorp's established library of content, which is estimated to be worth some $186 million and includes such action/thriller properties as Taken and The Transporter.
Assuming that the deal closes, Besson will join the growing list of high-profile filmmakers now hanging their hat at Netflix. The roster already includes Martin Scorsese, as well as Nightcrawler and Roman J. Israel, Esq. director Dan Gilroy, Whiplash and La La Land director Damien Chazelle, and Selma and 13th director Ava DuVernay, among others. The content they're developing for Netflix is as varied as these storytellers themselves, ranging from Scorsese's passion project gangster drama The Irishman to Chazelle's Parisian musical series The Eddy, and DuVernay's docudrama series about the Central Park Five.
Besson's Netflix deal, as indicated earlier, would move the filmmaker away from the big-budget spectacle of films like Valerian and keep him focused on churning out mid-range fare. The director has never been inclined to stick with one genre, having shifted gears from historical melodrama (The Lady) to gangster action/comedy (The Family), and back to science-fiction with Lucy and Valerian over the past ten years alone. Pure action genre movies aren't off the table either, meaning the Netflix deal could also see Besson return to his roots in lone assassin movies like Léon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita.
Luc Besson is currently filming the original action movie Anna, starring Helen Mirren and Luke Evans.
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