Victory for Teuton TV

Fund makes profit and keeps tube lubed

BERLIN — Since the launch of its first media fund a decade ago, Teutonic production fund Victory Media has produced TV fare at a profit to its investors.

Keeping a close eye on cost efficiency and bottom-line results, the company has gone from producing tyke-aimed TV animation to the more rewarding live-action event miniseries aimed at global auds.

Unlike many other funds whose purpose was to defer taxes or write off losses, Victory has always offered for-profit investments to clients.

“The tax advantages have always been a nice fringe benefit, but never the main reason for our funds or to invest in our projects,” says Victory topper Franz Landerer.

Landerer has had to convince investors of the company’s strategy, namely the low risk and high profits of its endeavors. As a result, Victory has always focused on TV rather than theatrical features.

“Television is an industry,” says Landerer, “while cinema is a labor of love” and therefore less calculable and higher risk. And that can be a hard sell to investors, especially the middle-class entrepreneurs who are willing to invest an average of $23,000 to $45,000 in media projects as opposed to real estate.

Victory found a niche market in big-name miniseries with the help of long-time Italian partner DeAngelis Group.

Talking about his six-year partnership with Guido DeAngelis, Landerer sounds more like he’s describing a trusted old friend than a business partner.

“We hit it off the moment we met, both personally and ethically; there’s a chemistry there. We see eye-to-eye on everything, our long-term strategy, the way we do business. There are no problems between us, only solutions.”

The new 50-50 joint venture the two companies set up in March, DeAngelis Film Prod. & Distribution, is a further reflection of their mutual commitment, he adds.

The joint venture is looking to produce primetime fare in Europe for the international market. Victory and DeAngelis inked a deal in April with Italian pubcaster RAI to produce the miniseries “Renzo and Lucia.”

That followed their agreement with U.S. cabler TNT and Five Mile River Films to coproduce the four-hour miniseries “Julius Caesar,” which has been acquired here by pubcaster ARD.

With its broad outlook, Victory is more than just a German company.

“We don’t do German productions,” says Landerer. “It’s a question of finance. German programming simply has no prospect. International English-language products are safer. A German story? Who wants to see it? But the story of Julius Caesar with an international cast? That’s an easy sell. That’s economically feasible for a fund. Anything else wouldn’t be viable.”

Victory and DeAngelis are now gearing up for “The Medicis.” The miniseries, about the rich and powerful Renaissance family, will start production early next year with a likely airing by December 2002.

Currently celebrating its 10th anni, Victory released a special anni fund in April to raise $22 million for the first two episodes of “The Medicis.”

Other projects financed by Victory include “The Magnificent Ambersons,” which will air on A&E in the U.S.; “The Diamond Hunters” and “Shaka Zulu — The Citadel,” both of which will be shown here on Kirch-owned webs; and popular Italian soap “Incantesimo.”

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