Robert Kulzer was able to go from script reader in Germany to executive in Los Angeles to highly successful producer, all without ever leaving the company that gave him his very first job in the film business.
For two decades, Kulzer has been the U.S. presence for Germany-based Constantin Film as head of its Los Angeles office, and he’s deeply involved in the company’s “Resident Evil” franchise and the upcoming “The Three Musketeers.”
“It’s a very unique story,” he says of his career at Constantin. “I read hundreds and hundreds of scripts, then started working as an assistant for general manager Bernd Eichinger. Then they offered me a job to run development and acquisition in Los Angeles. It was with just a couple of people, and we started to develop material.”
Kulzer has been a producer or executive producer on the company’s four “Resident Evil” films and will soon be traveling to Toronto where the next installment begins production in October. He’s also a producer on “Musketeers,” set for release in the U.S. on Oct. 21, and on “Tarzan,” the company’s CG-animated film.
It’s all part of Constantin’s growing ambitions.
“We definitely want to make more international movies,” he says. “We feel in Germany that we have maxed out what we can do as an independent company in production, distribution and television. The international arena is definitely where we can grow. The way we do it is to only select projects that have a very high percentage of getting made and we focus all of our energy on those projects. There’s not a lot of development going on that ends up going nowhere.”
He is especially bullish on “Musketeers,” which is being released in Germany this summer.
The film, helmed by “Resident Evil” director Paul W.S. Anderson, is a quite a coup for Constantin, considering the company was competing with Warner Bros., which also planned to make a “Musketeers” film, to be first out of the gate.
They beat out Warners by showing up at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival with a completed script, convincing Summit Entertainment to agree to be the distributor.
“It turned out fantastic. I’m very, very excited and very, very happy,” Kulzer says of the completed film. “Fifteen months ago when we were going to Cannes with the project, and we had a good script and a major studio breathing down our neck, it was a different situation. It was a David vs. Goliath situation. I don’t think they took us seriously as competitors.”
He says there have been no shortcuts in the journey that has gotten Constantin to where the company is today.
” ‘The Name of the Rose’ and ‘The House of Spirits’ were beautifully mounted movies tailored for European audiences. Then we went to ‘Resident Evil.’ You know a large part of the audience will say, ‘It’s not my kind of movie, I don’t play videogames.’ Now with ‘Three Musketeers,’ we have a film that is a four-quadrant movie. It’s a big game-changer for us. Based on the response we’ve gotten from distributors, we would love to keep making these kind of big action-adventure movies. Even though they are on smaller budget, they can compete with big studio movies.”