Constantin, flush in '06, sees rough road ahead

German b.o. could signal trouble

Constantin Film is predicting a difficult 2007 after posting record results last year.

Germany's leading indie film producer recorded sales of €270.2 million ($360.7 million) in 2006, a 26% year-over-year jump and the highest for the Munich-based company.

Net profits hit €8.3 million ($11 million), more than double the €3.9 million Constantin earned in 2005.

While film production again accounted for the bulk of Constantin's revenue — €112.3 million ($150 million) — the German distribution business had a banner year, thanks in large part to Tom Tykwer's "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," which sold 5.5 million tickets in Germany.

Constantin's film distribution division earned €47.5 million ($63.4 million) last year, more than double the €23.7 million booked in 2005.

The small screen also proved to be a major profit center for Constantin. Revenue from TV productions — ranging from the sitcom "Hausmeister Krause" to the VIP game show "Extreme Activity" — stood at €40.4 million ($54 million) last year, compared with €23.4 million in 2005.

But Constantin warned that 2007 could be a tough year, particularly in the German theatrical market. German boxoffice in the first quarter was down 9% from the comparable period in 2005, and Constantin titles including the comedy "New From the Wixxer" and the Edith Piaf biopic "La vie en rose" have performed below expectations.

While Constantin said it was unlikely to match last year's record results, it forecast earnings of at least €250 million ($333.8 million) and operating profits of at least €12 million ($16.2 million) in 2007 thanks to its upcoming slate, which includes such titles as "Resident Evil: Extinction," "Asterix at the Olympic Games," the German-language comedy "Pornorama" from Marc Rothemund ("Sophie Scholl: The Final Days") and Michael "Bully" Herbig's animated feature "Lissi and the Wild Emperor."