BERLIN — German film distrib Intertainment has formed a wide-ranging partnership with fellow Munich financing firm OpenPictures that includes legal assistance in Intertainment’s litigation against Franchise Pictures.
OpenPictures, which broke into the scene last year, has been looking for local and international partners to fill in some of the gaps left by fallen Teutonic media titans. It has bailed out more than one survivor of the Neuer Markt crash, including the recently reanimated Kinowelt.
The strategic alliance with Intertainment also foresees cooperative ventures with U.S. majors in financing and selling international feature films.
In its civil suit against Franchise, Intertainment claims CEO Elie Samaha illegally inflated the budget on a slate of films it agreed to finance by $100 million. The trial is set to start Aug. 5. Franchise and Samaha are facing two RICO claims under the federal anti-racketeering statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), which allows for treble damages. OpenPictures has agreed to share Intertainment’s legal costs and responsibilities in the proceedings.
Open to Web distribution
OpenPictures is also keen to tap Internet distribution of audio and video content. Intertainment holds a stake in Pennsylvania-based online distrib SightSound, which offers its patented high-resolution Electronic Versatile Download (EVD) package.
“CEO Rudiger Baeres has boldly steered Intertainment through difficult times and set it up well for further growth,” said OpenPictures chief exec Stefan Piech, who described the lawsuit against Franchise as “a unique case of fraud of extraordinary measure in the normally renowned U.S. film industry.”
Intertainment and OpenPictures will present details of the deal at a press conference in Munich on Wednesday.
It’s not the first time OpenPictures has stepped in to help a troubled film company immersed in a legal dispute.
Last year it joined brothers Rainer and Michael Koelmel in their last-minute bid to buy back the remains of their bankrupt Kinowelt after creditors had agreed to a competing management buyout. The Koelmels succeeded thanks in part to OpenPictures’ support.