Impact finds $40 mil to make 'Pandorum'

Film made despite difficult financial climate

COLOGNE, Germany -- In Christian Alvart's "Pandorum," Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster play astronauts adrift in an ominous space ship with no escape in sight.

Given the current global financing climate -- with banks tightening credit and presales drying up -- it's a scenario many indie producers can relate to.

Not so Jeremy Bolt and Paul W.S. Anderson of Impact Pictures, who along with Constantin Film's Robert Kulzer, put together the $40 million to make "Pandorum."

While the sci-fi thriller was financed before the credit crunch, Impact's production model -- which has German parent company Constantin bankrolling Impact productions -- isn't dependent on the peaks and troughs of the global banking sector.

In addition to its solid cash reserves as one of Europe's largest independent producer/distributors, Constantin is a master at tapping German soft money.

"Pandorum," which shot in Berlin at Studio Babelsberg, received subsidies from regional fund the MBB, federal pot the FFA and an impressive $5 million from the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF). It was the second-largest payout by the DFFF this year, topped only by the $7.5 million James McTeigue received for his tentpole actioner "Ninja Assassin," which shot in Babelsberg this Spring.

"That's one of our biggest advantages, having Constantin behind us," Bolt said. "People know, when they come to us with scripts, that if we like them, we can put them into production."

Constantin's involvement guarantees that "Pandorum" will receive a major German release. Summit Entertainment is selling the film at AFM, through its long-standing agreement with Constantin. "Pandorum's" cast, which also includes Cam Gigandet, German actress Antje Traue and martial arts star Cung Le, was enough to convince Overture Films, which snapped up North American rights on a negative pick up. The film already has sold to the U.K. and Australia (Icon), Scandinavia (Svensk) and Japan (Movie Eye).

Shooting in Germany was a condition of the financing but it suited Alvart, who relished the chance to shoot with a German crew again after spending two and a half years in L.A. working on Paramount's "Case 39."

"My ambition exceeds my budget and I know I can get a lot more out of a German crew, cause I know how they work," Alvart said. "My first film, 'Antibodies' (2005), was shot in Germany for $1.7 million and we had helicopters, dogs, riot squads, the works."

Impact is equally ambitious. "Pandorum" is being set up as a possible franchise. Given its unique financing model, Impact is confident that if the first film delivers, it can green-light the sequels, recession or no.