Highlights of TMG's first 40 years
Herbert Kloiber recounts firm's milestones
Producer Walter Ulbrich sets up Tele Munchen to produce high-end event programming for German public television. The first project is an adaptation of the Jack London classic "The Sea Wolf." Kloiber: "Ulbrich was very much the artistic producer. He wrote everything himself, he produced everything himself. He'd manage maybe one production every year, maybe one every two years."
Kloiber and business partner Fritz Buttenstedt take over Tele Munchen from Ulbrich. Kloiber: "I had no grand plans for the company. We just started doing what we knew -- producing classical music events for television. Of course, that was pissing up (Leo Kirch's classical music production operation) Unitel's tree."
Founding of Concorde Filmverleih. Kloiber: "It was named after the airplane. It was a recognition that we were very dependent on French films. For the first 10-15 years, Concorde had almost exclusively French movies. We started with the rights to 28 Louis de Funes films and built the company with movies from Louis Malle and Francois Truffaut."
Acquires 6.8% of new German commercial channel Sat.1 from publishers Dumont-Schauburg and starts Musicbox, an MTV-style regional tryout targeting young viewers. Sells Sat.1 stake a year later, to focus on a 24 hour satellite version of Musicbox. In 1987 sells 50% of Musicbox to Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest. The channel is renamed Tele-5. Axel Springer and CLT become shareholders. Kloiber: "This was the only time I risked the whole company. There was a point with Musicbox where we only had cash for three months of operation."
Capital Cities/ABC buys 50% of TMG. TMG takes control of Vestron Video Deutschland. Vestron's back catalog of more than 300 titles, including "Dirty Dancing" and "Blue Steel" forms the basis of TMG's rights library. Kloiber: "It was a 50-50 joint venture (with Capital Cities/ABC), which is the worst you can do, but it was the best partnership I've ever had. We didn't argue for five minutes. I learned more in the seven years with Capital than I did in the 20 years in business beforehand." (Kloiber would eventually buy back the 50% from Capital/ABC after the group was acquired by Disney in 1996.)
Concorde has its first theatrical blockbuster with the Kevin Costner-starrer "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" selling nearly 5 million tickets in Germany. The success of the film -- the result of an output deal with Morgan Creek -- allows the distributor to move out of the art-house niche and become a major player among independent German distributors.
TMG Launches ATV -- Austria's first-ever commercial television channel. This marks a return to his roots for the Austrian-born and Swiss-educated Kloiber. By 2003, ATV will reach 100% of Austrian households and be the only serious competitor to the state-owned channel ORF.
Sells 45% of TMG to EM.TV for about $450 million at the time, in an all-cash deal. "It was a way of going public without going public. We were lucky because EM.TV was on such a roll at the time, if we hadn't done the deal when we did, they would have bought another six companies instead." Five years later, Kloiber will buy back his share at the steepest of discounts.
Acquires 50% share in CinemaxX AG. Even though Kloiber has owned theaters since 1981 through a partnership with CinemaxX's Joachim Flebbe, he has resisted participating in Germany's multiplex-buying craze up to this point. Again, TMG gets the stake at a fraction of the price rivals paid for it.
Output deals signed with Summit Entertainment and Marvel Films. Deals give Concorde "Twilight" and "Iron Man" franchises and help Concorde to record year in 2009, when boxoffice tops $70 million. Another output dealwith CBS Films follows in 2009.