Kinowelt posts 40% profit uptick

Rise atrributed to strong sales, controlled costs

BERLIN — German producer-distrib Kinowelt posted a 40% increase in profit in 2004, the company’s first full-year of business since Michael and Rainer Koelmel reanimated the company after its bankruptcy four years ago.

The privately held group reported earnings of E1.45 million ($1.7 million) and a 26% boost in sales to $68 million.

Company attributed the dramatic rise to strong sales and a relatively slight rise in costs.

The group’s homevid division continues to be its main bread winner, generating 80% of Kinowelt’s revenue. TV sales accounted for 15%, film distribution for 5%.

Undersea docu “Deep Blue” was Kinowelt’s biggest theatrical hit last year, grossing nearly $5.4 million.

This year the group acquired high-profile titles including “Million Dollar Baby,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and more recently “Half Light” and “Tristan & Isolde,” starring James Franco.

“Million Dollar Baby” has grossed $4.5 million since opening in Germany and Austria in March.

In March Kinowelt acquired DVD and theatrical rights to the remaining chunk of the Kirch library, creating what the company said is one of the biggest film libraries in Europe. Hollywood hits including “Fight Club” and TV classics such as “Lassie” and “Bonanza” are included in the 5,500 titles.

Company shareholder Michael Koelmel said in a statement that Kinowelt “has created the conditions to establish itself once again as one of the leading rental and distribution companies for German and international independent films.”

Kinowelt forecasts revenue to grow 20% to $81 million this year.

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