Cologne's MMC taking page from 'Reader'

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BERLIN -- A longer-than-expected shoot on Baz Luhrmann's "Australia" has produced an unlikely beneficiary halfway around the world.

Overruns on "Australia" have led to logistical shuffling on star Nicole Kidman's next gig -- Stephen Daldry's "The Reader." To accommodate the new schedule, Daldry's adaptation of the Bernhard Schlink best-seller is shifting more work from Berlin's Studio Babelsberg to MMC Studios in Cologne.

The production originally planned to spend 12 of a budgeted 75 shooting days in Cologne, but that is expected to increase substantially now. While Berlin will still serve as the backdrop for location shooting, more of the interior shots on "Reader" will head west. The film's producers have already shot some scenes without Kidman in and around Berlin.

The shoot marks a reversal of fortunes for Cologne, which is heavily dependent on television production and thus far has not profited as much from Germany's current film production boom. Big studio productions such as "Valkyrie," "Speed Racer" and "The International" have all chosen to shoot in Berlin.

"Reader" associate producer Michael Simon de Normier of SenfkornFilm credits regional subsidy body Filmstiftung NRW and its head, Michael Schmid-Ospach, for bringing the project to Cologne. Filmstiftung NRW is expected to announce funding for the project this week.

Studio Babelsberg, which is co-producing the film with the Weinstein Co. and Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella's Mirage Enterprises, declined comment. The reshuffling of locations, however, is believed to be amicable.

A love story set in postwar Germany, which ties dramatically into the Holocaust, "Reader" also stars Ralph Fiennes and Bruno Ganz. The film is set for a December 2008 release.
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