July 28, 2014 / 10:30 AM / in 3 years

'Lucy' box office bonanza lifts Besson fortune by $5 million

French film director Luc Besson (R) and his wife and producer Virginie Silla smile at each other during a news conference for his movie "Lucy" in Taipei November 1, 2013.Pichi Chuang/Files

PARIS (Reuters) - French film director Luc Besson was over $5 million richer on Monday after his film "Lucy" starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman with a super-powered brain topped the North American box office at the weekend.

Shares in film making company Europacorp, in which he holds a 44 percent stake or some 12.94 million shares, climbed 7.5 percent to 4.15 euros each, valuing his holding at 53.7 million euros ($72.1 million), up by 3.75 million ($5.04 million) from Friday's stock market close.

"Lucy" collected $45 million at the weekend, Europacorp said in a statement, outmuscling "Hercules", which took in $29 million for second place.

Johansson plays a woman who can stop traffic and move objects with her mind after a drug planted in her body causes her brain to operate at abnormally high levels.

The special effects-laden movie was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, and made for a relatively inexpensive $40 million, according to the movie site Box Office Mojo.

Gilbert Dupont analyst Jean-Baptiste Sargeant said even though royalties would not come through for two or three years, "Lucy's" strong showing would have an instant image-related impact for Europacorp.

"It's simpler to attract big cinema names when you can leverage a success," he said.

Reporting by Andrew Callus and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier; Editing by James Regan

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