Germany 's Studio Hamburg has decided to scale down its feature film activities after the disappointing international performance of its English language projects.
The step was taken after the stand alone companies specifically set up to provide the co-financing for by Studio Hamburg International Production's (SHIP) two English language family entertainment films were forced to file for bankruptcy this month.
The companies had co-financed two English language films to date: The Three Investigators - The Secret Of Skeleton Island; and The Three Investigators - The Secret of Terror Castle
The move is also in line with a perceived shift in focus at Studio Hamburg following the departure in September of studio chief Sytze van der Laan.
Van der Laan was responsible for setting up Studio Hamburg International Production with a view to becoming an international player; the restructure following his departure hinted at a return to the company's traditional focus on TV productions.
Talking exclusively to Screendaily, Studio Hamburg's head of press Ingrid Meyer-Bosse said:
'The insolvency does not have any impact on the operational activities of Studio Hamburg regarding the development of feature films. However, due to the poor performance of the SHIP activities abroad, we have decided to downscale the feature activities and to focus on a project-by-project basis rather than financing a full slate.'
Studio Hamburg International Production, had produced or co-produced five projects to date: the two Three Investigator films, both directed by Florian Baxmeyer; Jamie Thraves' Patricia Highsmith adaptation The Cry Of The Owl; Christoph Schrewe's Canadian-German co-production The Conclave; and Peter Kahane's German language children's film Red Zora, co-produced with Multimedia Film- und Fernsehproduktion.
Meanwhile, Malte Grunert, who headed up Studio Hamburg International Productions until last month, has since set up his own Hamburg-based production house Amusement Park Films which will focus on English language international co-productions as well as German language features.
A new feature by Florian Baxmeyer - All Inclusive - and Bille August's Heaven On Earth as a co-production with Arthouse Productions and Zentropa are among the projects currently being developed by Grunert.
Walt Disney plans to release The Three Investigators - The Secret of Terror Castle in Germany on March 19, 2009.