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Babelsberg on upswing

Studio in talks to bring in major U.S. production, two skeins

BERLIN — Studio Babelsberg’s new toppers were upbeat Monday, saying they expected the studio to reach profitability by 2006.

Speaking at a press conference to mark their first 100 days as owners of the legendary studio, Carl Woebcken and Christoph Fisser said Babelsberg’s revenue for 2004 would be E40 million ($53.2 million) and $60 million in 2005. Official figures for 2004 will not be available until January.

Company had revenues of around $35 million in 2003.

Woebcken and Fisser said the studio, near Berlin, would continue to focus on international projects, as well as TV production and commercials, stressing that Babelsberg is a full-service studio.

Babelsberg’s core business includes production and set construction, as well as its soundstages and backlot.

Although execs did not announce any new projects, “Mission: Impossible 3” will shoot there next summer. The studio also is in talks to bring a major U.S. project to Babelsberg next year, as well as host two TV series.

The duo plans to invest $6.6 million to renovate and upgrade the studio, specifically TV production facilities, and save some $4 million by laying off or phasing out about 20 of the studio’s 221 employees.

Woebcken and Fisser picked up the money-losing Babelsberg in July for a symbolic E1 ($1.32) from Vivendi Universal, which provided the new owners with $22 million to keep the studio operational for the next two to three years.

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