Epsilon, the joint venture film finance outfit involving the Kirch group and Italy's Mediaset, has been wound up after two years of internal wrangling.
The two companies' film production label Emotion and the TV arm Evision will live on as 50-50 joint ventures controlled by the parent companies. But their ambitions are hugely reigned back.
"Epsilon as a conglomerate company will no longer exist," Roberto Pace, CEO of Mediaset rights trading arm Mediatrade, said on Friday. Explaining the reason for the company's dismantlement, he said: "We had planned to cross-collaterise and put all our common interests in one basket. But it is very complicated [to operate a similar holding company]". However, Pace said that Mediaset and Kirch "will continue to co-operate on every level."
When Epsilon was launched in mid 1999 it had plans to finance a slate of studio-level movies with combined production budgets exceeding $500m a year. With guaranteed TV sales in three of Europe's leading markets (Germany, Italy and Spain), and partners with studio distribution in North America, Epsilon expected to be able to be able to rival Hollywood studios and leading US independents in its ability to greenlight projects. It had relations with Arnon Milchan's New Regency, Spyglass Entertainment and with Robert Redford's Wildwood Enterprises. Kirch and Mediaset also aimed to create a company that would become the leading reference point for large-scale European TV production.
However its two year existence was marred by administrative difficulties and delays and its biggest production was the moderately successful The Legend Of Bagger Vance.
The company currently has an output deal with Columbia TriStar and Paramount Pictures. Pace said that all of Epsilon's relationships and projects with outside partners will be maintained under the separate banners.
Emotion is currently co-financing Hyde Park Entertainment's Bandits, which stars Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton; New Regency's Don't Say A Word with Michael Douglas; Spyglass' The Farm with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell; and Franchise Pictures' City By The Sea with Robert de Niro and Frances McDormand.