Constantin extends Eichinger deal

Contract has producer staying through 2014

Constantin Film, Germany’s leading independent production company, has extended an exclusive contract with uber-producer Bernd Eichinger, the group’s onetime topper, through 2014.

One of Constantin’s most lucrative assets, Eichinger will produce exclusively for the company and consult on productions that he is not personally producing.

Eichinger took over Constantin in 1979 and transformed it into Germany’s most successful independent production and distribution company — which it remains.

Swiss media group Highlight Entertainment took a majority stake in Constantin in 2003 and increased it to 90% in 2006 after acquiring Eichinger’s share.

Eichinger’s films include “Nowhere in Africa,” “Downfall,” “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” and his latest project, terrorist drama “Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex,” which chronicles the rise and fall of West Germany’s Red Army Faction in the 1960s and ’70s. Directed by Uli Edel, pic hits theaters Sept. 18.

“I cannot imagine Constantin without Bernd Eichinger and his outstanding theatrical productions. So I am delighted that he has decided in advance to extend his exclusive production contract with Constantin,” said Constantin CEO Fred Kogel.

Eichinger’s contract, inked in 2006, was due to expire next year.

Meanwhile, Constantin on Tuesday announced provisional figures for 2007, saying it reached its earnings target despite a difficult market.

Company posted a net profit of E6.2 million ($9.7 million), down 19% from the previous year, which saw the highest-ever sales recorded by the company. Revenue dropped 14% to $351.5 million.

Operating profit (before interest and tax), which fell 12.6% to $19.4 million, benefited from strong results achieved in scripted and nonscripted TV fare, as well as from homevid and the licensing of TV rights to theatrical films.

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