Bernd Eichinger's distribution and production group Constantin Film has set up a Los Angeles-based joint venture with Anglo-US production group Impact Pictures.
The deal with Jeremy Bolt and Paul Anderson's London and Los Angeles-based Impact Pictures sees the creation of an as-yet-unnamed production company that will be 51% owned by Constantin. Kicking off in October, it will develop and produce theatrical and TV movies for the international market with most projects fully-financed by Constantin.
Jeremy Bolt, Impact co-chief, said he expects to produce two films per year from the US and two more from the UK through the new company. "We wanted finance that was not tied to the US or the UK as this could have got in the way of our production arrangements and we have now allied with a company that must be one of the most muscular in Europe," said Bolt.
"This joint venture is an important step towards the increase of our international production capacity. Moreover we strengthen our presence in Great Britain, which is along with Los Angeles the most important stronghold of the international film business," said Constantin chairman Eichinger.
"We are free to produce outside the deal, but we will be giving our top priority to this deal. It is a production finance and development deal that sets up a revolving development fund and provides significant overhead," said Bolt. "Constantin gets 100% of the rights in return for 100% of the financing. It keeps all German-speaking rights in perpetuity. All other rights after Constantin has recouped then return to the joint venture. This means [Impact] own 49% of our negative."
Budgets are expected to range up to $30m and Anderson is understood to be eyeing two or three projects in the $20m-$25m Mortal Kombat area, while Bolt is advancing on two others closer to his recent $6m There's Only One Jimmy Grimble in the UK. The first film to come under the deal is the co-production of Stonehenge 2000 BC, a historical epic based on a Bernard Cornwell novel which the two announced as a joint venture last month.
Constantin has also struck a two-year first-look agreement with Los Angeles-based producer Key Entertainment, which covers development and co-financing of US productions and in the near term is intended to provide Constantin with all rights including multimedia, free- and pay-TV in German-speaking territories. Constantin, however, also gets the option to acquire additional international rights on a co-financing basis.
Although Constantin has so far not boarded any films of Key's projects, its development and production slate boasts a host of titles that Constantin is interested in securing.
German-backed Key, which is led by Matthias Emcke and Thomas Augsberger, and its Bandeira Entertainment subsidiary have some 20 pictures in development. These include Till Human Voices Wake Us, which starts next month with Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce, Joel Schumacher's Tigerland and American Heroes, written by Michael Thomas Miller. Its previous credits include Judas Kiss and Life During Wartime and TV movie If These Walls Could Talk with Demi Moore, Cher and Anne Heche.
Constantin already has a string of output deals for its distribution operation with Mandalay Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment and recently formed Escape Artists.