Yet another German company is putting its public money behind a Hollywood producer. Hanno Huth's Senator Entertainment has entered into a five-year joint venture agreement with Mark Canton's The Canton Company to develop and fully fund an average of four to six major movies a year.

Canton will continue to be based at Warner Bros Pictures where he and The Canton Company have been based for the past three years; under terms of a new agreement Warner will co-finance and distribute a select number of Senator/Canton projects worldwide. Senator will retain exclusive distribution rights in Germany, China, Eastern Europe and other foreign territories to be determined on a picture-by-picture basis. Warner will handle all other territories.

According to a press statement, the new Senator/Canton agreement composes some four to five financing scenarios and profit sharing arrangements allowing for "significant financial participation" in the development and production of a slate of movies.

"In a rapidly expanding international marketplace, I can't imagine a better strategic partner than Senator Entertainment," said Canton in a statement. "Together, we have the freedom, autonomy and financial wherewithal to produce and distribute motion pictures throughout the world while growing our company into a commercially significant independent production entity. We couldn't have done it without the enthusiastic support of Barry (Meyer), Alan (Horn) and Lorenzo (di Bonaventura), who have afforded us the opportunity to strike a deal that will pay substantial dividends to us all."

"Our partnership with The Canton Company represents an important strategic alliance to Senator as we globalise our company and heighten our commitment to providing the highest calibre, most appealing films to the worldwide community," added Huth. "To achieve our goals, it was essential to partner with someone who possesses taste, imagination and market savvy, and unlimited access to projects and talent typically reserved for the majors. Mark embodies those qualities and more. The combined relationship with Warner Bros takes The Canton Company deal from a home run to a grand slam."

Berlin-based public company Senator recently signed to handle rights on films from Joe Roth's Revolution Studios in German-speaking Europe. It also jointly controls German exhibitor CinemaxX, has operational control of the Ufa Theatres group and has a long-term development, production and distribution deal with FilmFour in the UK. Senator also controls a 51% stake in sales company Amberlon Pictures, a joint venture with Pleswin which could handle the product from Canton which does not go through Warner Bros.

Since Canton installed himself at Warner Bros, The Canton Company has produced Jack Frost starring Michael Keaton, Get Carter starring Sylvester Stallone in production with Franchise Pictures, Red Planet starring Val Kilmer in production with Village Roadshow and Angel Eyes starring Jennifer Lopez, also with Franchise.

The deal was brokered by William Morris Agency president and co-CEO Jim Wiatt and the co-head of WMA Independent Rena Ronson. Jake Bloom and Steven Brookman of Bloom, Hergott, Diemer and Cook represented The Canton Company. Senator was represented in the deal by Craig Jacobsen and Tom McGuire of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Heberman, Newman & Warren.

Karsten Kastelan IN BERLIN contributed to this report