German prodco boards August's film

Bille August’s “Night Train to Lisbon,” which starts lensing in the Swiss city of Bern as well as Lisbon next month, reps a return to theatrical production for Studio Hamburg.

The production powerhouse has focused on television productions in recent years, but for Studio Hamburg CEO Michael Lehmann feature film production remains a significant part of the group’s mission.

The pic, an adaptation of Swiss author Pascal Mercier’s bestselling novel, boasts a big cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Melanie Laurent, Jack Huston, Bruno Ganz, Lena Olin, Christopher Lee and Vanessa Redgrave. It recently sold to EEAP for Eastern Europe, Falcon for the Middle East and Paradiso for the Benelux. Concorde Film is releasing “Night Train” in Germany while Frenetic is handling the title in Switzerland.

Peter Reichenbach of Zurich-based C-Films acquired rights to the book, one of the most successful German-language novels in the past 15 years, and found and eager partner in Studio Hamburg.

“Studio Hamburg’s core business is television,” said Guenther Russ, Studio Hamburg’s head of production. “But we are a producer. We make films and tell stories and of course theatrical films are part of our business.”

The company is putting greater emphasis on high-quality product such as “Night Train,” added Russ.

“This property is an enormous opportunity and challenge and it is exactly the kind of films we want to make. We are well known for precise, well-made, high-quality productions. There is a very high demand for quality and that is very important to us.”

Carl Clifton, head of sales and marketing at K5 Intl., which is selling “Night Train” internationally, calls the film “a very intelligent, very entertaining and layered romantic thriller” that “delivers more than just a surface experience.”

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