Inside Move: Filmmaking vet Balian begins new career

Euro exec trades pics for pens as zoo chief

He always knew the pic biz was a jungle, but for Euro filmmaking vet Haig Balian, his work has become a zoo — literally.

Balian, who has worked in just about every corner of Holland’s entertainment industry, is so frustrated by the state of the European film industry that he’s changing directions entirely. On July 1, he’ll become director of Artis, the Amsterdam zoo.

“I have done everything there is to do in film,” the independently wealthy Balian tells Variety. “I thought it was a good idea to do something else that was useful.”

Balian began his career in 1975 with distribution company Meteor Film, then merged it with production outfit Movies Film Productions, which was sold to Polygram Filmed Entertainment in 1993. He then set up an office in Germany for Polygram, which shuttered in 1999 after it was sold into the hands of Universal.

Most recently, he was an advisor to Studio Canal, helping take it to the stock exchange, but that was also closed down by Vivendi.

Balian now owns a 50% share in Minerva, one of Holland’s biggest theater chains.

He has produced 13 films, including the upcoming “Supertex: An Hour in Paradise,” directed by Jan Schuette.

“My dream,” Balian says, “was of a European film studio that could counteract the dominance of American films on this continent.” With the downfall of PolyGram and Studio Canal, he says, “Not only has it not happened but we are now back to where we were in the ’80s, with American films grabbing as much as 90% of the box office here.”

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