German soccer doc “Deutschland: Ein Sommermaerchen” (Germany — A Summer’s Fairytale) has been a box office fairytale as well, bringing in more than $20 million for distrib Kinowelt in its first three weeks.
But hopes that the pic, which chronicles Germany’s surprising success in this year’s World Cup soccer tournament, might find wider release internationally are being confounded by rights issues.
Soccer’s Swiss-based governing body FIFA holds international rights to the pic, but has not been able to land other distribution deals because some players who have cameo appearances have balked.
“The international rights situation has not yet been cleared because some of the players have said the rights to the film were only cleared for Germany,” a FIFA official told Variety. “There has been a lot of (overseas) interest in the film. No one thought before there would be any interest outside for a documentary about the German team and so no one really thought about the international rights.”
The record-breaking run for the docu, a behind-the-scenes look at the World Cup’s host team that unexpectedly finished third in a 32-team field , changed all that.
“We’re working on clearing up the (international) rights question,” the FIFA official added. “Only some but not all of the players have agreed to let it be distributed outside Germany.”
Pic includes illuminating fly-on-the-wall scenes from lockerrooms and team buses. Helmer Soenke Wortmann filmed most of the scenes himself after spending the past two years following coach Juergen Klinsmann’s team and got so close to the players that he even wore the German strip and sang the national anthem with the players.
The dispute spilled into the open Sunday when Wortmann criticized the resistance from some of the players and their agents. Wortmann rejected fears expressed by some of the players’ agents that the film’s overseas profits could end up in the wrong pockets or the players’ images could be used in videogames abroad.
“Every cent of the net profit will be donated to charity — and that will include the entire international earnings,” Wortmann told Bild am Sonntag, expressing hopes for a quick agreement before a planned premiere screening in London set for Nov. 8. “This film shows Germany in such a positive light. That shouldn’t be ruined. I’d be delighted to sit down with the agents to try straightening this out.”