German producer Bernd Eichinger has been involved in some pretty sizeable hits, including The NeverEnding Story, The Name Of The Rose, Fantastic Four, Downfall and Oscar-winner Nowhere In Africa.
He has made dumb German comedies (Werner) and smart German comedies (Der Bewegte Mann) and some outright stinkers (Prince Valiant, Body Of Evidence).
And Eichinger produced and co-wrote Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, which recently grossed more than $100m in Europe and is just starting out in Asia and South America.
Who nose best'
The tale of an 18th century serial killer with an olfactory obsession does not immediately have a lot of appeal outside of the continent where it was made. Then again, one would have been hard pressed to predict its continental gross would have soared to seven figures.
Filmed in English with Dustin Hoffman in a supporting role, one is reminded of the Euro pudding films of a bygone era when the likes of Carlo Ponti and Dino De Laurentiis were major international players. But it clearly worked.
And one cannot help but wonder why there aren't more savvy European and Asian producers that can muster the craft and artistry of their respective talent pools and produce films of international appeal.
Aside from Eichinger and the folks at Working Title, it is tough to conjure up a person or company with a longstanding presence and proven global track record.
The uncomfortable conclusion one comes to is that success occurs less by design than happenstance. Take the recent example of The Crimson Rivers (Les Rivieres Pourpres), which grossed more than $50m and was a hit virtually everywhere from Mexico City to Tokyo. The subsequent releases by that film's producer have been largely unmemorable and confined to the French marketplace.
There are countless contemporary examples of other producers that had the good fortune of marrying talent and material - once. There is an underlying message conveyed when directors and writers go on to make movies with established US companies or form their own banner.
Perhaps the experience of making the film itself was not pleasant, no matter how exuberant the final artistic and commercial experience. However, one suspects the parting of the ways boiled down to a lack of confidence.
The film-makers ultimately decided the producer lacked the tin to fulfill his ambition and, that being the case, their growth would be stilted. It is a terrible, inexplicable and valid conclusion based on the movie landscape of at least the past decade.
It also implies that the grace of God, rather than shrewd planning, conspired in the creation of some of the biggest successes of recent note. Otherwise there would be more Constantins and Working Titles rolling and reeling in the next generation of movie creators.
- E-mail Len Klady at firstname.lastname@example.org.