At an Italian restaurant in Munich one evening 12 years ago, I was having dinner with the late Bernd Eichinger, at that time executive director of Constantin Films, when I learned of this extraordinary man’s great creative gifts and bold spirit to solve problems, wherever in the world he saw them.
And to always have fun while doing so.
Eichinger made sure of two things: that my champagne glass was full (Dom, I think) and that my mind was open to his mission of the evening: a full-scale assessment of weekly Variety, which he passionately believed was in need of a thorough review and an Eichingerian makeover.
“You are an international newspaper and I know there is valuable international news and information all through the paper, but you package it in a way that hides what is great about the newspaper!” asserted Eichinger.
And he proceeded to analyze, from memory, every page of weekly Variety, every section, from the table of contents up front to the events page at the back and every page, feature and chart in between.
By the time he was done, I didn’t have much to say except, “You know my paper like you work there for a living.”
I could see clearly how Eichinger took on every challenge in his life in exactly the same way: with gusto and fierce determination to leave no status quo unchallenged, wherever he found it.
When Eichinger passed away earlier this year, I recalled that encounter and thought about the tremendously vital European company that benefitted so greatly for so many years from his fearless attitude. I wondered: Would Constantin continue dreaming big and boldly move forward into new ventures?
I’m sure the international film industry, for reasons both artistic and practical, has asked itself those same questions over the past several months since Eichinger’s passing.
When a longtime and trusted observer of the Euro film business recently noted to me that Constantin was charting an exciting course and that its future plans included the grand-scale 3D ambitions of “The Three Musketeers” and several other even more ambitious projects and initiatives, I was happy to follow his suggestion that I investigate for myself.
I looked into the Constantin story and quickly learned that a key player of the international film industry was, in fact, moving forward briskly, guided bythe very sharp business sense of Martin Moszkowicz and very much with the dynamic “thinking big” spirit that was Eichinger’s greatest contribution to the firm.
This report and this Achievement in Intl. Film Honor for Martin Moszkowicz and the Constantin team isn’t just a story of a company surviving the loss of a valuable family member and leader. It’s also the story of how top companies successfully integrate innovative practices into their daily routines and build on the often intangible, but always essential characteristics of competition, vision and enterprise that are the crucial lasting legacy of their best and brightest.
P.S.: We are in the process of making some of the changes to weekly Variety that Bernd suggested that night. Great ideas are never out of style!