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Kinowelt nabs video rights to Kirch library

Exec calls supply of material 'inexhaustible'

BERLIN — Kinowelt Medien has secured the video and DVD rights to media mogul Leo Kirch’s massive film library for the next 10 years, the Munich-based distribution group announced Tuesday.

Kinowelt also announced its acquisition of Pandora Filmverleih, one of Germany’s leading indie distribs.

Kinowelt’s deal with Kirch’s Taurus Film covers the German-lingo video and DVD rights to more than 5,000 films, including movie classics like “Citizen Kane” and “La Strada,” and Taurus television productions such as popular crime series “Rex — A Cop’s Best Friend” and Kirch’s ambitious TV-movie adaptations of Biblical stories.

DVD growth

As DVD technology spreads in Germany, says Kinowelt board member Eduard Unzeitig, “We expect a collector’s market — and with it, heavy demand for high-quality films — to develop. Kirch’s library is an inexhaustible source of material.”

Kinowelt’s agreement with Taurus Film, which excludes children’s titles, is backdated to Aug. 1. No financial details were made public.

Kinowelt will take over arthouse distrib Pandora on Oct. 1, also for an undisclosed price. The Frankfurt-based distributor reported revenue of 20 million marks ($12 million) in 1997.

Pandora holds the German-language rights to some 100 films, including “The Piano,” “Dead Man Walking” and “Bullets Over Broadway.”

Kinowelt’s Arthaus arm will distribute Pandora’s recent acquisitions.

Despite the sale of Pandora’s distribution activities, Pandora owners Reinhard Brundig and Karl Baumgartner will continue to produce and co-produce feature films under the Pandora name.

According to Unzeitig, Kinowelt will hold the distribution rights to past Pandora productions, and will work closely with Pandora in the future.

Kinowelt, which has been publicly listed since May, expects turnover to exceed $118 million in 1998.

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