TMG at 45: Film Arm Concorde Carves Out Unique Market Niche

Marguerite TMG Concorde Tele Muenchen Group
Courtesy of Tele Muenchen Group

Concorde has carved out a unique niche in Germany over the past 35 years with a broad spectrum of international cinema that has ranged from works by Louis Malle, Federico Fellini and David Lynch to the more recent box office successes of the “Iron Man” and “Twilight” franchises.

The company is also active in domestic productions, releasing at least two to three German films a year that parent Tele Muenchen Group (TMG) either develops and produces inhouse — such as the upcoming biopic “The Von Trapp Family — A Life of Music” — or co-produces with established partners.

Concorde’s consistently eclectic range of titles has allowed it to offer both prestige arthouse films by award-winning auteurs, including Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac,” while regularly reaping B.O. earnings from mainstream titles, such as Louis Leterrier’s hit “Now You See Me.”

“We expect a certain level of quality for our program and longevity for our library, both of which we have managed to maintain over the past decades,” says Concorde managing director Markus Zimmer.

This year the distrib has enjoyed successes on both the arthouse and commercial fronts with Eric Lartigau’s French hit “La Famille Belier,” pictured, and Robert Schwentke’s “Insurgent,” the second installment in the “Divergent” series.

“We were quite happy with ‘La Famille Belier,’ which has been one of the most successful arthouse titles in Germany so far this year, and ‘Insurgent’ also worked well — it has established a new young-adult franchise for us with more to come,” Zimmer says.

Concorde’s only output agreement is with Summit Entertainment, which Zimmer notes is more than just an output deal — it’s a long-term business relationship and friendship that has spanned some 25 years: “This is why we’re still together with them.”

Zimmer adds that while the group is considering several possibilities for output pacts, the company is focusing primarily on “attractive single acquisitions on a picture-by-picture basis” as well as more domestic German-language product that it either produces or co-produces.

TMG had signed an output deal with Relativity Media earlier this year, prior to the U.S. company’s bankruptcy. While expressing sorrow for Relativity’s plight, Zimmer adds that the bankruptcy “doesn’t affect our flow of product nor in any significant way, Concorde’s lineup for the next couple of months, or years, for that matter. We still have a lot of product.”

Indeed, Zimmer counts Vin Diesel starrer “The Last Witch Hunter” and French arthouse hit “Marguerite” among this year’s highlights.

Franchise hits have become the bread and butter of international indie distribs, and replacing them can be tricky, but Concorde sees the “Divergent” series as a solid pickup, while it’s counting on a number of other domestic and international franchises in next year’s lineup, including “Now You See Me: The Second Act.”

“We have high hopes for the ‘Now You See Me’ sequel,” Zimmer says.

Concorde is also releasing “Emerald Green,” the final film in its popular “Precious Stone” franchise. The trilogy, which TMG co-produced with Munich-based Lieblingsfilm, is based on the bestselling German fantasy book series by Kerstin Gier about a 16-year-old girl who discovers the ability to time travel and becomes ensnared in a generations-old conspiracy.

The group will launch a possible new franchise with “Burg Schreckenstein,” which is based on a popular children’s book series that follows the adventures of young students at a boys’ boarding school located in an old castle. TMG is co-producing with Munich’s Roxy Film.

“The plan is to release a minimum of two to three German films per year, which we will either develop and produce in-house, such as the ‘Von Trapp Family,’ or co-produce with local partners, like ‘Burg Schreckenstein’ and the ‘Precious Stone’ trilogy,” says Zimmer, who oversees theatrical feature production for TMG as head of the group’s Clasart Film division.

Zimmer points out that TMG prefers to produce or co-produce domestic films, but there are exceptions, such as the
2011 Turkish immigrant comedy “Almanya: Welcome to Germany,” which sold more than 1.5 million tickets and made a little more than $10 million at the German box office.

“We also do acquisitions if the film is attractive, but it’s important for us to build up a library of German-language product that we own, so the preferred scenario is to do our own productions or co-productions,” he says.

Another upcoming co-production is “Radio Heimat,” a 1980s-set light comedy about growing up in the old West Germany, that TMG is doing with Westside Filmproduktion and Rat Pack. Zimmer describes the pic as “a little bit like a West German ‘American Graffiti.’ It will have great music, I can promise you that.”

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