Capella plots distribution attack on Eastern Europe

As former Eastern Bloc countries rapidly develop stronger feature distrib markets, prolific production/distrib outfit Capella Intl. is perched to conquer the ripe territory with a high-end slate, the company announced Thursday.

Capella’s international sales director Mimi Steinbauer recently returned from a European pre-sales sweep, where she unloaded properties to local distribbers in the largely untapped Czech and Slovak Republics and in Poland and Hungary. She continues with the Pacific Rim this month.

“All these new distrib outfits are popping up, but there are just as many fly-by-nights,” Capella senior sales and marketing VP Bill Moraskie said of Eastern Europe. “Out of the territories we’ve dealt with in that area, Hungary is the best.”

Capella explained in a statement that product pipelines in the Commonwealth of Independent States — made up of republics from the former Soviet Union — remain too weak and will have to wait at least six months for exploration.

“As political situations and copyrights fall into place, we want to establish early contacts and be in touch with this market as it grows,” the company’s German prexy and chief operating officer Ortwin Freyermuth said in a statement, referring to all of Capella’s new foreign sales targets.

The varied export goods in the Eastern sales push include the currently lensing “Two Bits,” starring Al Pacino and Sean Penn; “Ice Cream Man”; and “Exquisite Tenderness.”

Capella Films, the Los Angeles-based production arm, also wrapped “The Last Tattoo,” starring Tony Goldwyn and Rod Steiger.

The structurally complex outfit is a fast-rising presence on the U.S. indie scene: Capella Films Inc., Capella Intl. Inc. and Connexion American Media Inc. were founded in 1990 as a joint venture by Willi Baer, Bobo Scriba and Rolf Deyhle. Capella maintains headquarters in Los Angeles.

Previously, Scriba and Deyhle created a German-based media company that, among other properties, controlled Connexion Film in Hamburg. Through Connexion’s American subsidiary, Connexion American Media Inc., the German company remains the de facto financial backbone for the ambitious Capella slate.

Capella Intl. handles overseas plugging of films from the Capella/Connexion Group as well as partnerships like the $ 200 million joint venture with Universal-based Bregman/Baer Prods. Bregman/Baer is currently prepping “The Shadow,” which will star Alec Baldwin, and will also roll out the Kim Basinger-Val Kilmer romantic actioner “The Real McCoy” for Universal Sept. 17.

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