Bernd Eichinger's Constantin Film has hired high-profile US producer Mitch Horwits as president of its stateside development and production division, Constantin Development.

Horwits, whose producer credits include The Usual Suspects, Short Cuts, Bound, Shadowlands and Breakdown, was most recently president of Spelling Pictures.

According to a statement, Horwits will be responsible not only for international production and acquisition, "but also for co-ordination of [Constantin's] current and future joint ventures, equity interests and international strategic product partnerships." At the same time, Constantin veteran Robert Kulzer is promoted to be head of production at the US arm.

"By appointing Mitch Horwits we have succeeded in obtaining the services of one of the most experienced and versatile Hollywood executives for Constantin Film, in order to provide the necessary structural basis for the continued fast expansion of our international business on both the production and exploitation sides," said Eichinger.

Constantin, which is riding high as this year's number two German distributor, second only to UIP, has in the last year sharply increased its international production activities, striking financing, co-production and joint venture deals with Propaganda Films, Key Entertainment, Hyde Park and Escape Artists. It also has output arrangements with Mandalay Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment and USA Films.

In April Horwits struck a production deal with French powerhouse StudioCanal (ScreenDaily, April 19). Horwits was then close to sealing a domestic partnership with Paramount Pictures. Horwits had been looking for a new backer since 1998 when Spelling was shut down by Paramount's owner Viacom despite the box office success of films such as In & Out and Breakdown. It is thought that Horwits inherited some of the Spelling projects that had been in development.