Constantin Film eyes global prize

Variety's Achievement in Int'l Film Award: Martin Moszkowicz

Having raised the bar considerably with “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and “The Three Musketeers,” Constantin Film has set its sights on global success without losing sight of its domestic market.

It was the vision of its late founder and former chief exec Bernd Eichinger, who passed away earlier this year, that guided the company’s growth for more than 30 years, making it Germany’s leading production group. That vision and enthusiasm for spectacle and story, drama and adventure, continues to define the group.

The company’s upcoming production slate includes “The Poison Kitchen,” a fact-based historical thriller by Robert Schwentke (“R.I.P.D.”) that traces the rise of Nazism through the eyes of crusading journalists; Scott Charles Stewart’s fantasy adventure “The Mortal Instruments”; and a CGI-animated version of “Tarzan.”

On the international front, Constantin boasts a winning team in Martin Moszkowicz, Constantin’s head of film and television and increasingly the face of the company; producer Robert Kulzer, head of Constantin’s L.A. office; star director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. Together they not only revived the “Resident Evil” franchise with last year’s “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” they also produced Constantin’s biggest moneymaker to date.

The four teamed on “The Three Musketeers,” which is on track to be another stellar hit for the company, and are working on a fifth “Resident Evil” installment with Anderson again directing. After that, they will tackle their biggest project yet, “Pompeii,” an original story set in the ancient Roman city during the catastrophic Vesuvius eruption.

Constantin has owned a majority stake in Anderson and Bolt’s L.A.-based Impact Pictures for more than a decade, and Moszkowicz is glad to have the director back in the fold.

“I am very proud that we were successful in bringing Paul back into the directing chair for ‘Resident Evil 4’ — which has now become the most successful film in Constantin’s history — and subsequently ‘The Three Musketeers’ — the first film that he has directed that has come out of the Impact development slate. When we entered into the joint venture with Paul and Jeremy we always envisioned that Impact would produce movies that Paul directs, so this has been a plan in the working and is now a reality.”

While many of Constantin’s earlier English-language films tended to be more Eurocentric, Moszkowicz says the company is “now targeting a more international audience. We want to enhance our profile even more when it comes to the U.S. domestic market as well as the huge emerging markets worldwide.”

Constantin is fast-tracking “The Poison Kitchen,” which follows the Munich Post newspaper and its campaign of more than a decade against Hitler until it was finally shut down by the Nazis following their rise to power. Matthew Sand (“Ninja Assassin”) is penning the English-language pic, which is set to shoot next year with Kulzer and Margo Klewans producing.

Also going into production later this year or early 2012 is “The Mortal Instruments,” toplining Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, which Kulzer is producing with Unique Features partners Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne; Moszkowicz and Unique’s Dylan Sellers are exec producing.

Constantin likewise remains on board with Fox’s upcoming reboot of “The Fantastic Four.”

While the company has set its sights on the global market, it has not let go of its German roots. One of Constantin’s big upcoming projects is an English-language adaptation of Karl May’s “Winnetou,” a German-language classic of the American West that spawned several novels.

Hugely popular in Germany, the books inspired a series of films in the 1960s that starred Frenchman Pierre Brice as the Apache hero Winnetou and American Lex Barker as his faithful pale-faced companion, Old Shatterhand.

Constantin has tapped “Dances With Wolves” scribe Michael Blake to pen the new film, which is to go into production next year, possibly in New Mexico with Kulzer producing and Moszkowicz exec producing.

Constantin has always exhibited a predilection for pulp. In keeping with that tradition, Reinhard Klooss, head of Constantin’s animation division, is currently producing and directing “Tarzan,” a CGI-animated 3D version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic based on a script by Klooss and Jessica Postigo, who also worked on “The Mortal Instruments.”

In what execs describe as a coup, Constantin managed to jump on the animation rights, which had been held by Disney, when a short window opened. (Warner Bros. holds the live-action film rights). Constantin’s version will be a contemporary story focusing on a teenage Tarzan and promising “a more testosterone-driven approach to the franchise” than what has been seen in animated versions.

While it’s not yet clear if the film will be PG, Moszkowicz says it will definitely be aimed at a “slightly older audience” and “retain the spirit of Burroughs’ novel while taking it into modern times.”

“Tarzan” follows Klooss and Holger Tappe’s 2010 hit toon pic “Animals United,” which has become such an international success that Constantin is considering a sequel. In addition, the company is developing the tyke property “Die olchis,” based on the hugely popular children’s books by Erhard Dietl.

Constantin is certain to light up the September box office with “The Three Musketeers” and Christian Ditter’s tyke Viking actioner “Vicky and the Treasure of the Gods,” a follow-up to its 2009 hit “Vicky the Viking.”

It’s not just action, adventure and animation, however. Constantin remains just as committed as ever to the domestic market and German film. It has a slew of adult-skewed dramas in the works, including “Schweigeminute” (Stella), an adaptation of Siefried Lenz’s bestseller (published in the U.S. as “Stella”) written and directed by Andreas Dresen, who won this year’s Cannes Un Certain Regard sidebar with “Stopped on Track.”

Produced by Constantin’s Oliver Berben, pic revolves around a love affair between an 18-year-old and his English teacher during a summer on Germany’s Baltic coast in the 1960s.

Berben is also producing Doris Doerrie’s “Glueck” (Bliss), based on a short story by author and Berlin defense attorney Ferdinand von Schirach about a young prostitute whose life gets complicated when a customer dies in her flat; Celluloid Dreams is handling world sales for the pic.

Sherry Hormann (“Desert Flower”), meanwhile, is set to direct “Kampusch,” the harrowing true story of a young Austrian kidnap victim, which Moszkowicz is producing. Hormann inherited the project from Eichinger, who was working on the script when he died of a heart attack in January. Production is set to begin next year.

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