German producer Philipp Kreuzer and his partner Jorg Schulze recently launched Munich and Berlin-based Maze Pictures, which is making its EFM debut after joining forces with Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp Television on thriller TV series “The Crimson Rivers” and several film projects. Kreuzer is a lawyer and former top exec at Bavaria Film Intl.
There is a digital-driven wave of consolidation sweeping the European film and TV industry, with bigger players like Fremantle snapping up smaller companies and dictating new business models. How is this affecting the market?
What we see overall is the pressure on the distribution chain. Today’s consolidation and convergence means there are more direct relationships between networks and producers, more multi-territory deals. While having close ties with the creative talent is key, it becomes much more important as a producer to have the direct relationship with a network and the digital players. You also have to think more European, and even global.
How is this reflected in what you are doing with Maze Pictures? With “Crimson Rivers” you are taking a property that has already been tested in the market, moving it from film into television.
Yes, we have a tried and tested a property and a brand and we will be working with great talent. We have excellent writers, Jean-Christophe Grange and Franck Ollivier (“Taxi Brooklyn”). With EuropaCorp Television we started with co-development at a very early stage because we know it’s going to work in several markets. We share costs and risks and start from the idea. The series is not based on the movie, but on the novel. You start from the beginning, you develop with partners from a very early stage, then try to get broadcasters involved and package it with them.
Besides the impact of consolidation, the other big issue that seems to be on the agenda in Europe is upcoming Digital Single Market legislation. What’s your take on that?
Obviously when it comes to feature films, it poses a problem for the independent territory-by-territory licensing and financing model. The European market is fragmented into highly diverse individual territories that acquire rights exclusively and market the films that work in their respective territories with individual approaches. And also on the production side, the business depends on your diverse national partners, such as the broadcasters, who require exclusivity. The Netflix approach does not substitute this landscape, it is merely a broad horizontal integration on the distribution side. It is hard to imagine how we should today, or also in the near future, handle a pan-European copyright in such a diverse continent dealing with individual partners in each territory. The other question discussed by the EU — portability of national content across Europe — is an entirely different question and can be easily supported since it should improve the audience experience.