Rights trader has output deals with Regency and Hyde Park

BERLIN — Producer-distrib Kinowelt said Thursday (Nov. 24) it had acquired former Kirch Media film licensing company Epsilon Motion Pictures, which this year provided Kinowelt with hit titles “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Million Dollar Baby.”

The Munich-based Epsilon as well as the Epsilon subsidiary in Zurich, Switzerland, were part of the assets of the insolvent Kirch Media, which went belly up in 2002.

Yet company has remained in operation in Zurich, where it has continued to finance and buy film rights. Epsilon has existing output deals with independent companies such as Regency and Hyde Park.

Kinowelt has acquired a number of films from Epsilon this year, including Demi Moore starrer “Half Light,” “Guess Who” with Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Reynolds’ medieval love story “Tristan & Isolde,” Harold Ramis’ “Ice Harvest” and “Dreamer” starring Kurt Russell.

“Epsilon perfectly complements Kinowelt’s areas of business,” said company founder Michael Koelmel. “The acquisition continues Kinowelt’s expansion strategy and further develops film production, the core of the Kinowelt Intl. division.”

“We want to strengthen this particular company pillar because it significantly raises the growth potential of the entire business,” Koelmel added.

Epsilon’s film rights include theatrical, DVD and TV.

Kinowelt and Kirch declined to provide financial details of the sale.

Deal is further evidence of Kinowelt’s improving health since its own insolvency in 2001. Koelmel and brother Rainer Koelmel bought back the core assets of the publicly listed Kinowelt Medien in 2003.

The reincarnated Kinowelt has had particularly strong success in the DVD market, but with the huge box office splash of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” company is expecting a major boost in theatrical distribution revenue this year.

Other recent releases have included “March of the Penguins,” Cannes winner “The Child” and horror pic “Saw.” “The Constant Gardner,” South African thriller “Drum” and “Saw 2″ are among Kinowelt’s upcoming lineup.

In March, Kinowelt landed DVD and theatrical rights for the next seven years to 5,500 films and series from the Kirch Media library, including titles such as “La Strada,” “Fight Club” and “Bonanza.”

Company’s current catalog includes more than 9,000 titles.

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