German film fund to spur ‘Mysteries’

Prod'n to lense later this year in Chile, Peru, Mexico

BERLIN — Swiss author Erich von Daniken, whose bestseller “Chariots of the Gods” made him a cult figure in the 1970s, is launching a private film fund in Germany to raise E8 million ($9.56 million) for his new Imax project, “World of Mysteries.”

The investment vehicle is aimed at fans willing to invest a minimum $119 — far below the usual $25,000-$30,000 that production funds usually demand.

Collaborator Jochen Breitenstein (“The Ring of Buddha”) is directing “World of Mysteries” with Friedrich Kluetsch producing. The project is scheduled to shoot later this year in the Atacama Desert of Chile, the plains of Nasca in Peru, the Mayan temples of Chichen Itza in Mexico, the ancient site at Nemrud Dagi in Turkey and Stonehenge in the U.K. Pic is to be released in 2005.

Von Daniken has enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic with a number of TV adaptations of his books.

In 1973, Rod Serling narrated “In Search of Ancient Astronauts,” a re-edited German documentary by Harald Reinland based on “Chariots of the Gods.” A 1976 follow-up, “Mysteries of the Gods,” was narrated by William Shatner.

In 1993, German broadcaster Sat 1 produced the 25-part “Pathways of the Gods”; in 1996, ABC aired the one-hour special “Chariots of the Gods: The Mysteries Continue.”

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