De Haas to Kinowelt move surprises

Production veteran replaces Bertil le Claire

BERLIN -- "Jan who?" was the most common response from local film folk to Friday's news that StudioCanal had appointed Jan-Pelgrom de Haas to replace Bertil le Claire as the new head of its German distributor Kinowelt.

While well known in local TV circles, for most of the film world de Haas is an unknown factor.

"This doesn't send much of a signal at all to the film industry," one German distribution exec said. "What Kinowelt really needs is someone to boost their licensing business. Certainly nothing in his resume suggests experience in that area."

What de Haas' resume does suggest is a man who knows how to operate the German outlet of a Pan-European media company. His previous jobs have included executive jobs with GrundyUfa and UFA Film, both production divisions of European TV colossus RTL Group.

But De Haas' first job will be to integrate Kinowelt into the StudioCanal machine. Then he can start making a name for himself in German cinema circles.

Le Claire resigned after StudioCanal's 70 million euro ($111 million) acquisition of Kinowelt this year. De Haas will report to StudioCanal CEO Oliver Courson.