Company's smallscreen focus pays off across Europe

While Constantin Film established itself early on as a leading force in German cinema, it wasn’t until this past decade that the company’s television activities really took off.

Constantin’s first major foray into television was as part of a movie series for broadcaster Sat.1 in the mid-1990s called “German Classics” but after getting a taste of TV, it followed with smallscreen spinoffs of successful theatrical releases, such as “Bewegte maenner,” based on its hit Til Schweiger comedy “Der bewegte mann” (Maybe … Maybe Not), and hit sitcoms like the long-running “Hausmeister Krause.”

In 2003, following the collapse of the Kirch Group, a one-time Constantin shareholder, Constantin acquired Kirch Media Entertainment, at the time a leading producer of television entertainment shows.

Renaming it Constantin Entertainment, the shingle soon became one of Constantin’s main divisions, supplementing its film production and distribution operations and solidifying its position as one of Germany’s leading TV production companies with hit formats like courtroom skein “Richter Alexander Hold,” comedy-music show “Chartbreak Hotel” and crimeshow “K11 — Kommissare im einsatz.”

“Constantin Entertainment gave us a big boost because it does so many hundreds of hours of programming,” says Martin Moszkowicz, Constantin’s head of film and television. The company, he adds, “focuses on lots of pre-primetime shows, courtshows, comedy. It’s very profitable.”

Run by Ulrich Brock, Otto Steiner and Onno Mueller, Constantin Entertainment also helped pave the way for the group’s international expansion. The shingle has set up production subsidiaries throughout Europe, including Poland, Russia, Croatia and Turkey. In Russia, “The Federal Judge” has aired on Channel One since 2005, while Constantin produces Croatia’s local “American Idol” show “Croatia’s Search for a Superstar” on RTL, Polish crime-docu skein “W11″ — an adaptation of Sat.1′s “K11″ — on TVN and cooking show “Kati Psinete” for Greek broadcaster Alpha.

With local broadcasters hit hard by the advertising downturn, Constantin is eager to offset potential losses on the TV front with further international expansion.

Exports and the development of formats have increased in the past 12 to 18 months, mainly spurred by the problems in the German broadcasting market.

In 2006, Constantin set up Constantin Television in an effort to bundle the production activities of scripted fare such as sitcoms, series and miniseries.

Headed by Robin von der Leyen, Kerstin Schmidbauer and Fritz Wildfeuer, Constantin Television produces the hit daily soap “Dahoam is dahoam” for pubcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk as well as event movies such as the recent two-part bio-thriller “Eisfieber,” based on Ken Follett’s book “Whiteout” for ZDF.

The production is part of a deal between Constantin Television and ZDF subsidiary Network Movie to adapt several Follett titles for television. The companies will next produce “A Dangerous Fortune.”

Along with other key subsidiaries, including Polyscreen, Olga Film, Rat Pack Filmproduktion and Moovie — the Art of Entertainment, Constantin’s scripted fare covers the entire spectrum and the company continues to produce for all of Germany’s major broadcasters.

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