Jon Handschin, Tobias Bauckhage, Benjamin Krause,
(Foto: Rae Grimm/moviepilot)

Webedia, a French online publishing conglomerate, has acquired German film website Moviepilot for $20 million, the companies announced Wednesday.

Moviepilot.de operates as a hybrid of film review site Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB database, recording around 11 million hits per month and 5 million monthly users during the first quarter of this year, making it one of Germany’s top film destinations online. The site’s Facebook page in Germany has more than 2 million fans, while its YouTube channels generate more than 10 million views a month.

Moviepilot founders Jon Handschin, Tobias Bauckhage, Benjamin Krause and Malte Cherdron (see above) will continue to own a separate U.S. site and use the funds from the sale to Webedia to grow that operation, which is even larger with 40 million hits per month. The company analyzes film trends and box office performance for studios, including 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures, assisting the companies on social media campaigns. Company also provides the Social Media Buzz breakdown for Variety.

“The sale of our first start-up, allows us to press ahead with even more energy and focus on our expansion into the U.S. market with our second start-up, moviepilot.com,” said Bauckhage, CEO, based in Los Angeles and Berlin.

Webedia also owns popular German movie destination Filmstarts, a subsidiary of French property Allocine. Both Moviepilot.de and Filmstarts will continue to operate as separate ventures.

“We believe that no other team in Europe understands social publishing as well as Moviepilot,” said Webedia’s managing director, Guillaume Multrier.

Bauckhage, Handschin and Ben Kubota launched Moviepilot with financing from T-Venture of Deutsche Telekom and Grazia Equity, as well as IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft and angel investors that included Stefan Glänzer (last.fm) and Riccardo Zacconi (king.com).

Meanwhile Webedia has expanded its online holdings since 2008, through French investment company Fimalac, managed by Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière. Company now oversees 15 websites, including PurePeople and Newsring, and attracts more than 9 million visits a day and 21 million unique visitors a month in France and 40 million worldwide. In June, Webedia acquired French gaming site jeuxvideo.com from HiMedia. It also operates entertainment websites in Brazil, Spain, Turkey and the Middle East.

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