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Kinowelt reaches Summit for two pix

Deal, other pacts confirm German company as key player in Euro indie market

Showing further signs of ambition, German distribution house Kinowelt has picked up two new Summit titles: Gregg Araki’s “Splendor” and Roger Kumble’s “Cruel Inventions.”

The new sales deal for Kinowelt comes as Alliance Pictures Intl. and Kinowelt have finalized negotiations for a pivotal production-distribution output deal. Under the terms of the agreement, Kinowelt will produce and/or distribute API’s next 10 films, or those API handles over the next four years.

First films under the deal are the Ralph Fiennes-starrer “Sunshine,” where Kinowelt takes a co-production credit, “The Hairy Bird” and “eXistenZ,” which Kinowelt will distribute. Kinowelt’s possible co-production involvement on Roman Polanski’s “The Count of Monte Cristo” will be decided once the film is greenlit, says Alliance Pictures president Mark Horowitz.

“Kinowelt are very aggressive, distribute films very well and, like Alliance, handle films at the high end of the independent market,” Horowitz said.

The new tieups with Alliance and on two Summit titles (both outside Summit’s Mandalay roster) confirm Kinowelt as a key indie player in Europe.

Kinowelt is already a preferential distributor with Miramax. It is negotiating a New Line output deal — on U.S. releases be-yond 1999 — and will bow an art-house boutique distributor in Germany, Kinowelt partner Rainer Koelmel said.

Kinowelt has also begun talks at Santa Monica to co-produce German films with Miramax’s London-based HAL production house.

With divisions dealing in film production, distribution, exhibition, video and rights broking, holding Kinowelt Medien AG only lacks a TV business to complete its indie-studio status. That may not be slow in coming either.

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