Veteran US director Robert Altman's new feature The Company is to be the first project backed in a new joint venture between German private media fund CP Medien and the Los Angeles/Munich-based production outfit SRO Entertainment.

Written by Barbara Turner, The Company charts the ups and downs of life for members of a world-famous ballet troupe, the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, and stars Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell and James Franco. New York-based Killer Films will serve as line producer, with production in Chicago starting on October 9.

CP Medien has previously had production partnerships with such international companies as Mandalay Pictures, Pathe, StudioCanal and Lions Gate and local German producers to participate in such films as Enemy At The Gates, Beyond Borders, Amen, The Cat's Meow and Soweit Die Fuesse Tragen.

SRO (the name stands for Standing Room Only) was set up at the beginning of this year by Schoedel, Jonas and McCord to access top quality projects from the US (Screendaily, 11 February 2002).

Subsequently CP Medien and SRO entered into a first look agreement earlier this summer to work together on the financing and production of international features.

CP Medien board member Roland Pellgrino said he "couldn't wish for a better start. The management of SRO Entertainment with Hans Schoedel, Stefan Jonas and Jonas McCord have many years of experience in the film industry and is an optimal extension of our partnerships".