When former Senator executive Benjamin Herrmann decided to join forces with film financing expert David Groenewold to launch a new producer-distributor Majestic Film into the German marketplace, he was not worried about an overcrowded landscape.
"I think if you filter out the completely undercapitalised companies which only release two to three films a year, you can clearly see that there are only about a dozen players in the market," Herrmann says.
"What we don't want to do is focus on volume, but rather hand-pick five to six films a year. We want to concentrate predominantly on bigger German productions and there the market segment is again much smaller and you have fewer competitors."
Herrmann stresses that Majestic will not be "releasing films which don't belong in the cinemas - we only release a film when it makes sense - and we are not planning to buy up product cheaply to have so many releases per year."
So far, Majestic has two concrete releases for 2007 - Alexander Adolphs' documentary debut Con Man Confidential (Die Hochstapler, April 19) about four confidence tricksters and Florian Opitz's globalisation documentary The Big Sellout (May), and will be on the lookout at the Berlinale for potential pick-ups.
Majestic has recently boarded three German feature projects as co-producer and distributor: Philipp Stoelzl's $9.1m (EUR7m) Alpine drama Nordwand about climbing the Eiger, to be produced with Medienkontor Berlin, Austria's DOR-Film and Switzerland's Triluna Film; a late summer shoot in Africa for Sherry Hormann's $15.5m (EUR12m) adaptation of Waris Dirie's bestselling autobiography Desert Flower (Wustenblume) in co-production with Peter Herrmann's MTM West; and Oscar-winner Florian Gallenberger's China-based Second World War drama John Rabe, with EOS Entertainment, Hofmann & Voges Entertainment and broadcaster ZDF as a feature film and two-part mini-series for $18.1m (EUR14m).
While Majestic's focus will be on handling quality commercial German films, Herrmann stresses that this "doesn't necessarily mean German language, as you can see from the broad spectrum of films we have in our slate - such as Desert Flower which will be shot in English".
"We will also look to pick up films from other countries, but we don't have that need to fill a pipeline," he adds.
BENJAMIN HERRMANN: Career to date
Born in 1971: studied directing at the Academy for Television & Film
1998: head of German feature films and TV movies at private broadcaster ProSieben; managing director of production house Seven Pictures
2000: head of production and distribution, Senator Entertainment
April 2006; leaves Senator as part of restructuring under new owners and announces Majestic Filmproduktion and Majestic Filmverleih with media fund manager David Groenewold.