Germany's Senator, Relativity End Output Deal

UPDATE Senator's output deal with Ryan Kavanaugh's production shingle, in place since 2011, expired in January

German distributor Senator Entertainment and Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media have ended their output deal for German-speaking Europe.

The deal, first signed in late 2011, gave Berlin-based Senator exclusive distribution rights to all Relativity productions in German-speaking Europe including features such as the romantic drama Safe Haven, the actioner 3 Days to Kill and the animated feature Free Birds.

The current deal expired at the end of last year and, by mutual agreement, has not been renewed, Senator CEO Max Sturm told The Hollywood Reporter. Senator issued an ad hoc release on Jan. 5 saying it exercised its contractual right to early termination of the Relativity deal. But Sturm said that was factually inaccurate. Senator has pulled the ad hoc release from its website.

The output deal with Relativity was set up through Eurofilm & Media, a single-purpose Irish subsidiary of Senator.

Senator still has three films from Relativity it will release under the terms of the output deal: The Best of Me, The Disappointments Room and Masterminds.

Sturm said the Relativity deal has not been renewed because of "formal reasons" linked to the massive corporate overhaul at Senator in the wake of its merger with French producer/distributor Wild Bunch.

Senator was forced into the Wild Bunch merger last year after the German group suffered a string of feature flops that saw its revenue drop 47 percent in 2013 to $37.5 million. Senator booked a net loss of $38 million for the year, a bloodbath of red ink that forced CEO Helge Sasse to resign and led to the linkup with Wild Bunch. The merger with Wild Bunch is expected to go through later this month.

Relativity holds a financial stake in Senator. It is unclear what the U.S. company's position in Senator will be following the Wild Bunch merger. A spokesman for Relativity declined to comment.

Sturm said the merger with Wild Bunch, which has distribution operations in France, Italy and Spain in addition to Germany, offered Senator an "expanded footprint" and "new opportunities" with regards to future distribution deals. He added that Senator was in "active negotiations" with Relativity and that the German company was keen to "maintain our strong relationship" with Kavanaugh's firm. 

Correction 1/6/2015 3:14 am: An earlier version of this story cited Senator's incorrect ad hoc statement that the German company had canceled its output deal with Relativity. The Hollywood Reporter regrets the error.