Icarus in RED: Understanding EuropaCorp's Failed American Experiment Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2020

start page

  • 107

end page

  • 140


  • 18/19

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1779-4994


  • 014 saw EuropaCorp hit all-time highs in revenue and profitability with the successful releases of Lucy and Taken 3, but only a few years later the company is struggling to survive with asset sales and layoffs being announced by the company in 2017 and 2018. Moreover, the company confirmed in early 2018 that it was seeking an investor or even possibly a buyer for the company as it struggles with losses and debts. Most observers put the blame for the company"s current condition on the production of the mega- budget would-be blockbuster Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which reportedly cost $180 million to make and which performed poorly at the international box office. Looking past this emerging consensus, this article argues that the problems at EuropaCorp go back further than the making of Valerian and instead reside in the company"s decision in 2014 to expand into distribution in the American market. In that year, EuropaCorp agreed to form RED, a joint venture which would handle its content in the US market. With this company in place, EuropaCorp eventually greenlit Valerian, but it also lost hundreds of millions of dollars releasing a string of box office flops before also committing an unspecified amount to the sci-fi epic. Given such a chain of events, the article argues that Valerian was the last in a series of mistakes that the company made during this period. This argument thus established, the article goes on to contextualize EuropaCorp"s trajectory with other European attempts at entering the US market, all of which have failed to one extent or another. The article ends by comparing EuropaCorp to peers such as Pathé and Studiocanal who have managed to find sustainable global strategies, and thereby asks what EuropaCorp could or should have done to avoid their current predicament.


  • europacorp; cinéma français; études sur l'industrie des médias; cinéma européen; histoire du cinéma; french cinema; media industry studies; european cinema; film history