Publicly traded German distributor Advanced Medien is making a push into high concept video and TV movies through the purchase of a 51% stake in Unified Film Organization (UFO), the five year-old LA-based production and sales operation run by Phillip Roth, Jeff Beach and Ken Olandt

Advanced had sealed an output deal with UFO in November last year and out of that the two companies began talks about a closer relationship. "They make high concept movies which sell well internationally and all their films have made money," said Advanced chairman Christophe Montague . "We respect their abilities to sell and market their films and believe that we can help them improve the quality of product and provide the cash to give them leverage in pay or play situations."

UFO, which has revenue forecasts of $15m in 2000 and $25m in 2001, produces movies with sophisticated special effects that are created through its own post-production and effects facility in Los Angeles. That complex houses 35 staff, 20 of which are full-time animators, and 150 workstations.

Its biggest titles to date include Escape Under Pressure starring Rob Lowe which had its world premiere on HBO in the US, Storm starring Luke Perry which bowed on Fox Networks and Interceptor Force which played on USA Networks.

Montague said that the films had enjoyed success in Germany on stations such as ProSieben and Vox as well as on video through BMG.

"With Advanced increasing the capital in the company, we can increase the calibre of the films, casts and productions," said CEO Roth. "We are not looking to move off and get involved in theatrical films immediately but we are looking to develop one or two theatrical films a year to complement our core production."

UFO is also looking at reformatting their movies for different foreign TV markets by inserting digital effects from the existing US version into new productions with local settings and actors. Beach highlighted the company's "digital assets" as its corporate cornerstone.

The UFO deal comes just weeks after Advanced announced a five year financing deal with director Wolfgang Petersen and producer Gail Katz which calls for two big budget movies a year. "We believe in two product lines," said Montague. "High concept movies and movies with top talent which have a track record of profits and are saleable worldwide."