Constantin takes responsibility for ‘Crimes’

German company nabs von Schirach book rights

BERLIN — Constantin Film has acquired the film rights for Ferdinand von Schirach’s best-selling “Verbrechen” (Crimes), a collection of 11 short stories based on the German lawyer’s real cases and clients.

Martin Moszkowicz, topper of film and TV at Constantin, did not say if the collection of stories by one of Germany’s top defense lawyers would be used for one or multiple films.

The first book by the Berlin lawyer was an immediate best-seller in Germany when it came out in August and the publishing rights have since been sold in 20 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., France and Spain.

“We’re extremely proud that we’ll be able to offer this unique collection of extraordinary German stories to filmmakers,” Moszkowicz said. No terms were announced.

Constantin, Germany’s leading production company, has a well-earned reputation as a company with a keen sense for material that can play beyond German borders. Constantin founder Bernd Eichinger spent $10 million for the rights to German novelist Patrick Sueskind’s bestseller “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.”

The 2006 pic by helmer Tom Tykwer was made for $65 million, one of the highest budgeted German pics of all time, and had a $135 million worldwide box office.

The book by von Schirach got sterling reviews and has been a fixture in best-seller lists.

“It feels like watching cinema when you read Schirach’s stories,” wrote Der Spiegel.

As an attorney, von Schirach has defended West German spies and a former East German Communist party leader, Guenter Schabowski.

Von Schirach is the grandson of Baldur von Schirach, who was head of the Hitler Youth during the Nazi era.