TMG wins ‘Sea Wolf’ battle

Hofmann & Voges loses German court case

BERLIN — Herbert Kloiber’s Tele Muenchen Group has scored a direct hit after firing a legal salvo against Munich-based production shingle Hofmann & Voges in a battle over rights to Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf.”

Tele Muenchen and Hofmann & Voges have both produced new TV versions of the classic tome, the latter for broadcasting group ProSiebenSat. 1’s flagship ProSieben channel.

A district court in Munich ruled Tuesday that Tele Muenchen has an overriding right to the title “The Sea Wolf,” because the company produced a 1971 miniseries adaptation of the book for ZDF, which remains one of the most popular German TV classics off all time.

As a result, the court blocked Hofmann & Voges and ProSieben from using the title in Germany.

It’s unclear what the ruling will mean for ProSiebenSat.1’s international sales arm SevenOne Intl., which is handling world sales for the movie.

Both “Sea Wolf” productions are set to be major highlights for Tele Muenchen and SevenOne at the Mipcom TV programming mart in Cannes next month.

Tele Muenchen is partnering with pubcaster ZDF and RHI Entertainment on an English-language two-part TV adaptation of London’s 1904 novel starring German thesp Sebastian Koch (“The Lives of Others”) as the cantankerous schooner skipper Wolf Larsen along with Neve Campbell, Tim Roth and Stephen Campbell Moore.

ProSieben’s German-language version has Thomas Kretschmann (“King Kong”) in the Larsen role.

ProSiebenSat.1 and SevenOne declined to comment on the ruling and what impact it could have on the production.

Set in 1900, “The Sea Wolf” follows the adventure of Larsen, a cruel, hard-as-nails but deeply philosophical captain who rescues the land-lubbin’ gentleman Humphrey van Weyden, presses him into service on his schooner, and drags him off on a seal hunting expedition.

Other versions of the oft filmed book include a 1993 TV movie starring Charles Bronson and Christopher Reeve as well as the 1941 classic with Edward G. Robinson, Ida Lupino, John Garfield and Alexander Knox.

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