Germany's Kinowelt Medien is advancing plans for a high-powered international distribution consortium to be fed by high-profile US pictures.

Talks are already underway with leading independent distributors in France and Spain to complement Kinowelt's existing distribution outlets, which include Germany and Eastern Europe. Additionally, the UK and Canada will be covered by Kinowelt's relationship with Canada's Alliance Atlantis. A partner in Italy may also be added.

Spanish powerhouse Lolafilms looks likely to handle Spain following Kinowelt's recent acquisition of four Lola features this week. Kinowelt chairman Rainer Koelmel confirmed that the companies are discussing a wider relationship.

Kinowelt and its distribution allies will look to gain access to high-profile US pictures through Kinowelt's US production venture under Chris Sievernich and its Hollywood joint venture with Alliance. Ideally, Hollywood studios would handle domestic distribution and Alliance Atlantis would handle sales in territories not covered by the consortium members. Other Alliance titles will not go through the partnership but be offered through Alliance's sales arm as usual.

Alliance and Kinowelt are also accelerating their existing UK operation by creating a stand-alone company under newly-appointed managing director David Kosse, formerly chairman of Universal Pictures UK. Armed with $75m over three years, the 50-50 London partnership will oversee local distribution and production, pushing into video and possibly TV production as well. Features in the works include period comedy The Pettycoat War, $20m Natural Nylon production Marlowe and 51st State, with Samuel L Jackson. These titles will continue to be sold on the open market and not automatically channelled through Kinowelt's overseas network.