Flops, write-offs contribute to Senator loss

'New In Town,' 'The Door' raked in less than $1 mil

COLOGNE, Germany – Two major boxoffice flops plus corporate write-offs equaled a €6.5 million ($8.6 million) loss for German producer/distributor Senator Entertainment last year.

The Renee Zellweger chick flick "New in Town" and German horror title "The Door" earned less than $1 million at German cinemas, well below Senator's estimates and more than enough to pull the company into the red. Write-offs on TV subsidiary Pro Program, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, and on Senator's 12.6% stake in licensing group A Company also added to the minus column.

Just two years ago Senator was promoting itself as a home for U.S. indie productions. Last year German films -- led by U.S./German co-pro hit "The Reader" were the rage. Now Senator's lineup is a mash-up of international indie productions, from Tom Ford's "A Single Man" and Oren Moverman's "The Messenger" to Samuel Maoz's Venice winner "Lebanon" and Takashi Shimizu's horror title "Shock Labyrinth 3D."

CEO Helge Sasse says the company has secured sufficient funding -- including a $4.39 million credit line from Winchester Capital and a $4 million (€3 million) loan from Bankhaus Bodensee -- to cashflow current operations at Senator. But he acknowledged that if its current slate underperforms, or if subsidiaries don't hit their targets, Senator would need more outside help, or further cost cuts, to keep the lights on.