Since arriving at Intermedia two years ago as CEO, Martin Schurmann has worked to reorganise the Los Angeles-based company and steer it out of troubled waters.
Under previous leadership, including most recently Moritz Borman, Intermedia laboured under the weight of its ambitions, producing underperforming behemoths such as Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines and Alexander. That, added to the impact of the Neuer Markt collapse on German holding company Internationalmedia, meant Intermedia had to sink or swim.
"I really had to strip it down when I arrived," says Schurmann, who replaced Borman in May 2005. "We moved into more moderate offices and we aren't making the $150m-$200m films any more. We're an independent production and distribution house and we want to give that impression to our film-makers and partners."
The plan is to build a slate comprising two-thirds mainstream or genre fare and one-third filmmaker-driven titles. Projects will typically fall in the $10m-$30m range, rising where appropriate. "If you just do commercial films you get branded as such, and if you only do arthouse films you don't make money, so you have to find the middle ground. The plan is to get five or six films a year."
Schurmann, who previously served as managing director of Bertelsmann subsidiary CLT-UFA in Los Angles and after that brokered transactions between US and German media companies, is in negotiations to secure a financing deal for Intermedia. He expects a deal to be in place in the second quarter of 2007.
In mid-April the company announced a return to international sales, partnering with Stuart Ford's First Look International (FLI) on an as-yet-unnamed venture that will operate out of FLI's London office and Los Angeles.
Ford assumes the title of president and managing director and will run operations with Schurmann, selling Intermedia titles, FLI projects such as the Untitled Larry Charles Documentary and The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond, as well as third-party projects. "Stuart's been through the ranks at various companies and has a good feeling for commercial and filmmaker-driven films. He brings the right skillset to the table and fits with (Intermedia Motion Picture Group president) Scott Kroopf's taste."
Intermedia's slate includes Spring Break In Bosnia from director Richard Shepard which has wrapped, with The Weinstein Company handling domestic distribution; the $30m-$50m thriller Stopping Power from director Jan de Bont which should start shooting in the summer; Simon Crane's hitman thriller Killer's Game; UK comedy Magicians from the creators of TV series Peep Show which is handled by Universal in the UK and in overseas territories by UPI and QED International; and J-horror remake One Missed Call which is being co-produced with Kadokawa and Alcon and which Warner Bros will handle domestically.