Berlin-based Eastern European Acquisition Pool (EEAP) has expandedits influence in the Central and East European market with the Slovenian mediacompany Cinemania Group coming onboard as a new shareholder with a 26% stake.

The agreement was signed by Cinemania's general manager SretenZivojinovic with EEAP's other shareholders, Berlin-based A Company Consulting& Licensing and Munich-based ProRom Media Trade and will open up themarkets of ex-Yugoslavia to EEAP's activities as a buyer of licenses from internationalindependent producers and distributors.

Speaking to, Zivojinovic explained thatCinemania is one of the leading distributors in the area of theatrical, TV andhome entertainment in the ex-Yugoslavian countries and Albania, and is planningto set up new companies in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania in the future tofollow existing affiliates already established in Serbia and Croatia.

Alexander van Duelmen, CEO of A Company, explained that EEAP,which was founded in 2003 and picks up 20-30 new titles each year, plans toextend its acquisition strategy from focussing on US independent fare such as ASound Of Thunder, Beginning Of Wisdom and Madhouse, to also targetthe European and - in particular - the German market in future.

The first German titles to be released through the EEAP networkwill include the German comedy 7 Dwarves (7 Zwerge) which hasdistribution in place for Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, ex-Yugoslaviaand Hungary, while Til Schweiger's latest directorial effort Barefoot(Barfuss) will be distributed through all of Eastern Europe including CIS.

"We had acquired the rights for Barefoot directly fromthe film's producer and aim to pick up five or six German titles a yeardirectly from the producers, " van Duelmen said. "Other pickups atthis year's Berlinale included Thank You For Smoking for all of EasternEurope, including CIS, and Keeping Mom, starring Rowan Atkinson, for CISonly."

To date, thedistribution partners in EEAP's network are Poland's ITI Cinema and kino swiat;Vilnius-based GPI Garsu Pasaulis Irasai which distributes in Estonia, Latviaand Lithuania; Zagreb-based Discovery Film and Video Distribution (incooperation with new shareholder Cinemania); and Hungary's leading independentdistributor Budapest Film Distribution.