Five-year pact includes prod’n, distribution

Partners with Kinowelt USA, film arm of German conglom

Gale Anne Hurd, who, like many producers, ended a studio deal over the past year, has found a new patron in Kinowelt USA, a newly minted domestic film arm of German conglom Kinowelt Medien.

The nonexclusive, five-year first-look pact includes development, production and distribution for pics budgeted from $20 million to $80 million. Hurd plans to make two or three pics every 18 months — not just action/adventure product but a wide range of films. Kinowelt will support a staff of nine and grant the producer an annual discretionary fund.

Under other terms of the deal, Kinowelt will maintain financing and worldwide distribution rights to projects Hurd develops and produces. In other words, Hurd will not own the negative to the pics she makes — but the prolific producer told Daily Variety, “If they make money, I will make money.”

In certain instances, Hurd and the company may elect to co-produce with a domestic partner, and Hurd is free to take projects in which Kinowelt is not interested elsewhere.

For six years, Hurd held down a first-look deal at Paramount. She is excited about no longer being dependent on feeding a studio distribution machine. “This deal is in every respect comparable to a studio deal,” she said. “It gives me the full range of development and exceeds what studio’s give in overhead these days. I now have a opportunity to develop projects outside of the studio system.”

Since Hurd left Paramount in September, she has been pursuing a deal such as the one she struck with Kinowelt: At one point she was in talks with Eureka, the alliance between Germany’s Kirch Group and Italy’s Mediaset (Daily Variety, Sept. 15, 1999).

Event-film organizer

“It is extremely gratifying to be in business with one of the most respected names in Hollywood,” said Kinowelt co-chairman Chris Sievernich. “It is our goal to establish alliances with elite producers, and Gale is the very best. She has been instrumental in creating the contemporary concept of the ‘event’ motion picture, pioneering cinematic breakthroughs and setting standards in the industry.”

“We look forward to developing and producing many future projects with her and continuing her remarkable track record of successful films,” co-chairman Rainer Kolmel added.

“I am excited to partner with Kinowelt, one of Europe’s leading and most ambitious entertainment entities,” Hurd said of the team-up. “Together with Chris, Rainer and (company co-founder Michael Kolmel), we will aggressively pursue original material to develop and produce for the worldwide marketplace.”

$2 bil gross

To date, Hurd’s 22 movies have grossed north of $2 billion worldwide. She has shepherded such event pics as “The Terminator,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Aliens,” “The Abyss” and “Dante’s Peak.”

Hurd recently produced the comedy feature “Dick,” starring Kirsten Dunst.

A diversified entertainment and media company founded by brothers Michael and Rainer Kolmel in 1984, Kinowelt Medien is the largest independent film distrib in Germany. It focuses on production, marketing and distribution of films for the theatrical market, but also handles TV movies, DVD and homevideo titles, in-flight entertainment and merchandising.

Rainer Kolmel and Sievernich plan to finance and produce a wide range of American films via Kinowelt USA, from major studio features to indie pics.

Sievernich recently exec produced Neil LaBute’s “Nurse Betty” for USA Films and “Where the Money Is” and “The Wedding Planner” for Columbia Pictures.

Stephen Scharf of O’Melveny & Meyers negotiated on Hurd’s behalf.

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