Germans set curve with U.S. pickups

'Centurion' among major German presales

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BERLIN -- The economic crisis might call for belt-tightening, but German buyers are still binging on big U.S. titles like they are bratwurst and beer.

Some of the major German presales signed in Berlin this year include Constantin Film's acquisition of Neil Marshall's kilts-and-sandals project "Centurion," starring Michael Fassbender and Dominic West; Concorde's acquisition of Voltage Picture's still-untitled political thriller directed by and starring Robert Redford; and Kinowelt's pickup of Roman Polanski's adaptation of Robert Harris' thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, which has just begun shooting at Studio Babelsberg.

The Teutonic activity is welcome, if a bit surprising, given the weak state of the German TV market. But unlike many territories, Germany's theatrical market remains strong and the DVD market, particularly for library titles, remains robust.

"The library business is what's partially behind a lot of these deals," one German buyer said. "Distributors need titles for their catalogs and are still willing to pay top dollar for them."

Germany's smaller indies were less active, but there were still some deals. Ascot Elite media picked up German rights to writer-director Julian Gilbey's upcoming action thriller "The Long Weekend" starring Franke Potente.

Ascot did the deal on the back of Potente's involvement and the script, being sold here by U.K. finance and sales company Carnaby International.

Budgeted at about $4 million, Gilbey's script details the story of a group of average joe rock climbers who stumble on a kidnap victim being held hostage underground.
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