On the eve of this year's Filmfest Muenchen, the German distribution sector has been rocked by the news of the sudden departure of Haig Balian and Albert Wiederspiel from Canal Plus' German theatrical arm Tobis StudioCanal (TSC) "due to insurmountable differences".

For the time being, TSC will be managed solely by company president Kilian Rebentrost, who held a 44% share in Tobis before Canal Plus Images increased its stake in the company from 20% to 60%. As from February 2000, the shareholder structure saw the French pay TV giant holding 60%, with Rebentrost and France's Pathe each having a 20% share, and Tobis founder Horst Wendlandt withdrawing completely from the distribution operations.

While Balian will no longer be running the distribution outfit, he has announced that he will continue to serve as managing director of StudioCanal Produktion, which was co-producer on box! Film & Fernsehproduktion's feature Frau2 Sucht HappyEnd and has already committed this year to local projects such as Robert Schwentke's Tattoo.

Before taking up their posts at TSC on April 1, 2000, Balian had headed the German theatrical outpost of PolyGram (later Universal Pictures Germany), and Albert Wiederspiel - a former marketing head at the German office of 20th Century Fox - had been head of distribution for PolyGram and then ran Universal Pictures after Balian's departure. Wiederspiel subsequently followed Balian to TSC.