EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment group Koch Media - one of German’s leading independent media companies - has revealed its intention to become a major player in UK theatrical distribution. Koch plans to release 25 films a year into British cinemas.

Koch’s first big British release will be Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage starring the Golden Globe-nominated Richard Gere on March 1.

Gere is due to come to London to support the release in mid to late February.

Koch, formed in 1994, has been active in film in Europe since 2008. The company has now fully acquired London-based independent film distribution company G2 Films. G2’s founder, industry veteran Thomas Hedman, has become Koch’s business development director - film (Northern Europe), based in London. G2’s Nik Hedman is also part of Koch.

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Alongside its film business, Koch has long been a distributor and publisher of computer and video games.

“To be able to act as a theatrical distributor, you need financial strength,” said Hedman, who formerly owned and ran Guild Entertainment.

“Theatrical distribution is where we see our future,” said Koch’s UK-based managing director Craig McNicol who also suggested Koch would be very active in pre-buying theatrical titles. “Our ambition in tapping into Thomas’ network is to unlock earlier and earlier opportunities in terms of the production process.”

There has been a recent realignment in the UK distribution sector with Momentum becoming part of eOne. Koch is aiming to “fill” the gap that has been left as a result.

Hedman acquired Arbitrage from Jarecki the American Film Market last November. “We managed to show our enthusiasm for the project to the point that he though ‘go with us rather than with a major studio’.”

Arbitrage is expected to go out on around 200 screens in the UK.

The company also recently picked up sex addict comedy Thanks For Sharing (sold by Voltage and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Robbins).

Koch has its own UK in-house sales/booking team run by Dave Woodward. The company also has its own in-house marketing and PR teams.

“We want 25 films a year,” Hedman stated of Koch’s long-term UK theatrical ambitions. “That’s two films a month.” Koch won’t be releasing foreign language fare in the UK. He added that he didn’t see “an interesting future in the direct DVD or direct VOD market.”

Other films Koch has picked up for the UK include Goats (David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga), Detachment (Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden) and El Gringo (Scott Adkins, Christian Slater).

Alongside its German and UK operations, Koch also has offices in Scandinavia and Benelux. “We actually try to acquire cross-territory,” McNicol said of Koch’s pan-European ambitions.