MGM inks German TV deal

Titles include 'Valkyrie', Bond and Balboa

Herbert Kloiber, topper of Teutonic media conglom Tele Munchen, has signed a long-term TV licensing agreement with MGM for the free television, German-language rights to Tom Cruise’s upcoming suspenser “Valkyrie” as well as an unspecified number of other United Artist and MGM theatrical pics, MGM telefilms and straight-to-video titles.

No financial details were available, but Germany is one of the most lucrative territories abroad for the major Hollywood studios, so observers are reckoning the deal is in the tens of millions of dollars. It is thought to run for three years.

Accord is the first major licensing arrangement put together by MGM co-prexy of Worldwide TV Gary Marenzi, who rejoined the Lion in mid-May.

Agreement encompasses future movie output from MGM and UA, including the 22nd film in MGM’s James Bond franchise, which will star Daniel Craig; a new installment of comedy franchise “The Pink Panther,” with Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau; and the first release under Cruise and Paula Wagner’s management of the UA studio, “Lions for Lambs,” directed by Robert Redford.

WWII thriller “Valkyrie,” directed by Bryan Singer, is being shot on location in Germany. Shooting at local military sites has been held up over jurisdiction concerns and Cruise’s affiliation with the Church of Scientology. However, officials are now claiming that a filming permit will be given (see related story).

“The diversity of MGM’s movie selection, with everything from riveting dramas and high adventures to coming-of-age comedies, appeals to the widest range of audience,” said Kloiber, who has long served as MGM’s main buyer in Germany.

“Our agreement with Tele Munchen is significant not only in that it brings MGM and UA popular theatrical releases to television viewers throughout the German-speaking region, it also introduces audiences to MGM’s engaging telefilms and our new crop of consumer-direct movies, which are developed specifically for today’s young global adult audience,” Marenzi said.

Tele Munchen will also have German-language free TV rights to recent theatrical releases including “Rocky Balboa,” the sixth and final installment in the story of the underdog boxer written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. Also part of the deal are two upcoming comedy releases: “Charlie Bartlett,” slated for August, and “Lars and the Real Girl,” slated for November and starring Ryan Gosling as a delusional young man who strikes up a relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet.Thirty-year-old TMG could exploit all audiovisual rights through its own distribution channels, but it will have secondary rights to the Lion output and may on-sell to other outlets. TMG is a shareholder in the nationwide free TV stations Tele 5 and RTL II in Germany as well as in ATV in Austria.

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