New German film fund to trod on astro turf

Cometstone, producer Rothkirch plan to finance 15 projects

BERLIN — A pic about Russian space hero Yuri Gagarin is among projects to be financed by a new $45 million German film fund set up by Warner Bros.’ German film distrib, Amsterdam-based Cometstone Pictures and Berlin producer Thilo Graf Rothkirch.

Through their newly established Target Media Entertainment Medienfonds, companies plan to bankroll up to 15 family-skewed theatrical and TV projects, including Cometstone’s “Gagarin,” about the first man to travel into space and orbit the Earth.

Cometstone is casting the film and may hook up with a Russian co-producer. Young British actors are being sought for the lead roles, according to Cometstone managing director Klaus Bauschulte.

Location, location

Parts of the film, budgeted at $13 million, will be lensed on location at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan and at the Star City cosmonaut training facility near Moscow. Shooting is set to start in March. “Hopefully, the military action (in Afghanistan) will have died down some by then,” noted Bauschulte.

Cometstone also is planning to produce a sequel to its 2000 kiddie pic “The Little Vampire” as well as a TV series about the blood-sucking tyke. Company has its first animated pic, “Wannabee,” in the works.

The new fund will bankroll a sequel to Warners’ hugely successful toon pic “The Little Polar Bear,” which was produced by Rothkirch’s Berlin-based Cartoon Film; a “Little Polar Bear” TV series; and an animated version of the Klaus Baumgart children’s book “Laura’s Star.”

English-lingo pix

The internationally targeted live-action pics will be shot in English. Target Media said it would only produce projects for German-lingo auds if costs were covered in those territories.

Already available to investors here as a blind fund, Target Media is aiming to raise 50 million euros ($44.6 million) by the end of 2002.

Warners will distribute the Target Media pics in German-lingo territories, with Cometstone Intl. handling world sales.

Gerhard von Halem, former head of Senator Film Produktion, and Karin Stammer, ex-exec of ApolloMedia Filmfonds, will head the new company.

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