The future for German distributor Tobis has become much clearer after a management buyout (MBO) by shareholders Kilian Rebentrost and Pathe.
The MBO has seen the duo acquire StudioCanal's 60% majority holding in the Berlin-based company.
They have also taken over the activities of its local production arm StudioCanal Produktion, which has been a partner on Paul Harather's Adam & Eva, Winfried Bonengel's Fuehrer Ex and is currently co-producing Jan Schuette's SuperTex.
StudioCanal had been a partner with Rebentrost and Pathe in the renamed Tobis StudioCanal (TSC) since February 2000 when the late Horst Wendlandt withdrew from involvement in the distribution operations. However, ever since the departure of Jean Marie Messier from StudioCanal's parent company Vivendi Universal, a question mark had hung over TSC's future
Business relations between Tobis and StudioCanal will continue despite the separation: a first look deal is in place for all new product and Tobis will handle the German-speaking TV rights for StudioCanal's 5,000-title library.
TSC is currently enjoying an unexpected box-office success with Roman Polanski's The Pianist, which has taken $2.7m and will be releasing other StudioCanal titles such as Mike Leigh's All Or Nothing and Coline Serreau's 18 Years Later in the coming months.
Tobis' plan to continue its business activities as a medium-sized player "with strong license trading on the same scale as in previous years" will be welcomed by sellers into Germany. The troubled German distribution sector has already seen the demise of such players as Kinowelt, Helkon and Advanced this year.