Studio Hamburg has dropped out of the bidding for the Babelsberg film studios, leaving the management buy-out team led by Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures boss Thierry Potok as the most likely winner.

Speaking to the Berlin daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, Studio Hamburg chief Martin Willich explained that he "didn't see any basis at the present moment in time to continue the talks with Vivendi. After almost five months of good negotiations, the French have now presented new ideas which we can neither accept nor comprehend."

"We regret this and will now concentrate our energy on the presence in Hamburg and, in particular, on the expansion of the [company's] location in Berlin-Adlershof.," Willich said.

According to the Berliner Morgenpost, sources close to Vivendi suggested that a decision to accept Potok's bid was imminent.

Meanwhile, Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures (SBMP) has signed a service contract with Tom Cruise for the use of the Marlene Dietrich Halle and Tonkreuz sound stages at the studios for Mission: Impossible 3.

Principal photography on the Paramount Pictures production will begin in the Berlin/Potsdam region from mid-August.

A second service contract has been concluded by SBMP for another Paramount production - the science fiction film Aeon Flux, starring Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron, which is also slated to begin shooting from the middle of August.