Bavaria Film International has picked up international distribution rights for Heinrich Breloer's lavish adaptation of Thomas Mann's Nobel Prize-winning novel Buddenbrooks which is currently shooting on location in the historical Hanseatic city of Luebeck.

The $20m (Euros 15m) production by Bavaria Film and Colonia Media Filmproduktion of Die Buddenbrooks - Ein Geschaeft Von Einiger Groesse is being co-produced by Burkhard von Schenk's Munich-based private film investment company FilmInterest to the tune of $5.4m (Euros 4m.)

FilmInterest had previously been involved as a financier in the omnibus film Paris, Je T'Aime.

Funding for the theatrical film and TV two-parter also came from the MEDIA Programme, Filmstiftung NRW, FFF Bayern, FilmFoerderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF). Warner Bros. will release the film in German cinemas on Christmas Day 2008.

Buddenbrooks' cast is being headlined by the veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl as the pater familias Konsul Jean, while other parts are taken by August Diehl, Iris Berben, Jessica Schwarz, Justus von Dohnanyi and 'new face' Mark Waschke who has previously worked mainly in the theatre and will portray Thomas Buddenbrook.

Speaking at a press conference in Lubeck during a break in shooting this week, Breloer promised that this his theatrical debut after almost four decades of working for television would 'provide a new view of the story for a new generation'.

'The book with its characters has accompanied my whole life,' he recalled, pointing out that 'the personal meeting with the Mann family and my extremely successful adaptation of their family history in Die Manns - Ein Jahrhundertroman showed me how intimately Thomas Mann was speaking here about his own person and how much of the family history of the Manns from Lubeck he had handed down to us in his Buddenbrooks. Thomas Mann knew his characters. This is why he succeeded in making them so true-to-life.'

Meanwhile, Armin Mueller-Stahl revealed in Lubeck that Die Buddenbrooks will be his second to last film as an actor before he dedicates himself solely to writing, music and painting in future.

After Breloer's film, the 76-year-old will appear in Tom Tykwer's action thriller The International and has then promised his son Christian Mueller-Stahl that he will take a role in his as-yet-untitled feature debut.