Confab eyes East Euro challenges

Industry looks ahead to 10 additional EU nations

BERLIN — If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That was the feeling permeating industry summit “European Union Expansion and the Film Industry: Challenges and Opportunities of EU Expansion into Eastern Europe,” held Monday in Berlin.

Two-day confab, organized by German industry org Film 20, looked at the changes local studios and distributors could expect next year when 10 Eastern European nations, including the Czech Republic, join the EU.

German studio heads have long been frustrated by the success of the Czech Republic’s Barrandov Studios, which has landed one huge Hollywood production after another, including “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and the upcoming “Alien vs. Predator.”

Unlike many of its German counterparts, Barrandov is turning a profit .

Speaking at a panel discussion, Studio Berlin topper Doris Zander floated the idea of a cooperation pact with the Prague studio.

“We are always open for cooperation if it suits our interests,” answered Matous Forbelsky, Barrandov’s head of marketing. He later added, “We don’t want to share our business with German studios, but in the end it depends on what the producer wants.”

Distribution of film and TV programming in Eastern Europe may offer other opportunities for German companies, according to EOS Entertainment chief exec Jan Mojto, who described Eastern Europe as a “natural market” for German distribs.

“German theatrical features may face difficulties in Eastern Europe, but German TV programming does very well in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia — perhaps due to closer cultural and historical ties with Germany,” Mojto said.

Mojto, who is producing a slate of international miniseries, including Roman epic “Nero,” noted that while German arthouse pics have failed to make inroads in the region, two Teutonic teen comedies have achieved box office success: “Girls on Top” was a modest hit in Hungary, while “More Ants in the Pants” enjoyed strong biz in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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