Pubcaster nabs H'wood titles in $46 mil pact

BERLIN — National pubcaster ZDF has paid 37 million euros ($46 million) for a film package from the insolvent Kirch Media that includes Hollywood blockbusters like “The Bourne Identity,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Men in Black.”

The purchase of 62 titles from Kirch Media’s vast film library, which insolvent administrators have been trying to sell piecemeal after they failed to find a buyer for the entire stockpile of nearly 16,000 titles, followed a new contractual agreement between ZDF and Kirch Media after the latter’s bankruptcy in 2002 left a previous agreement with the pubcaster in legal limbo.

In 2000, ZDF bought a film package of 87 films for some $88 million, but when Kirch Media went belly up two years later, the titles fell into a legal void as it was unclear whether the films reverted back to major Hollywood studios or whether they could remain at ZDF.

According to ZDF, the new deal has cleared up the legal issue and provided the pubcaster with an opportunity to pick up the titles at a better market price.

Kirch Media, which sold off its core TV unit ProSiebenSat1 to Haim Saban last year, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002 after collapsing under billions of debt stemming from high-priced Hollywood volume deals and the hemorrhaging costs of its pay TV service, which was also divested following the company’s insolvency.

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