UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution and Germany's Helkon Media have formed a joint acquisition alliance.
The companies are to pick up rights for their respective markets, but may also take pan-European rights, accounting for about 50% of a film's budget between them and striking an output deal with a US studio for the remainder.
Redbus chief Simon Franks said that the partners were already in talks with three studios about such an arrangement. Franks added that projects would be large-scale pictures, and 90% US, although they could shoot in the UK.
Amongst the projects that are likely to go through the arrangement are pictures emerging through an imminent deal between Redbus and Canadian-UK financier Grosvenor Park. Under that pact, Redbus is to take rights to multiple territories on a raft of projects over a number of years which Grosvenor would co-produce, with a US studio also boarding.
The anticipated alliance comes as Germany's Kinowelt is also expanding its distribution network into western Europe, possibly with Spain's Lolafilms as an acquisitions partner in Spain. Kinowelt and Canada's Alliance Atlantis already have a joint venture in the UK covering distribution and production.
Meanwhile, French pay-TV giant Canal Plus is rapidly advancing a pan-European distribution network, with outlets already in place in Germany, France and Spain. The company is in advanced talks to go through Pathe Distribution in the UK.
As well as on a pan-European scale, the move also testifies to the increasing aggression in the UK market, where Redbus recently sealed an output deal with the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.