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Babelsberg casts its CIP debut pix

Volker Schlondorff, co-director and production chief of Studio Babelsberg, has greenlighted the first projects to lens on the lot since the facility was privatized last August by French investment company CIP.

Producer Dieter Geissler, who set up a special effects studio there when the studio was still called DEFA, is set to lens “The Neverending Story 3” this summer.

Studio Babelsberg is co-producing with funds earmarked for production under the terms of the privatization deal.

The first co-production project between the studio and Ufa under a newly formed joint venture is the miniseries “Catherine the Great.” Production begins “almost immediately,” Schlondorff told Variety. Glenn Close has been tapped, but not confirmed, to topline.

The studio is also going to back German helmers. Herwig Kipping’s “Novales” is another Babelsberg project, as is Uli Edel’s “Medicus,” which will be produced by German vet Horst Wendlandt. Michael Ballhaus’ directorial debut, “Lotte Lenya,” will also go this year, says Schlondorff, if the title role can be cast.

Non-musical pic “Annie 2” will also lens at the studio, which is not contributing co-production coin to the project.

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