Intermedia exec suspended in 'Stopping' funds flap


BERLIN -- Producer Martin Schurmann has been suspended as head of Intermedia Film Equities as a result of his alleged mishandling of the Jan de Bont production "Stopping Power."

The action film, starring John Cusack, was forced to stop production last week after one of its main financial backers pulled out.

IM Stopping Power GmbH, a single purpose entity set up to finance the film, has filed for bankruptcy.

"The fact that the financing for 'Stopping Power' was not completed before production began and that a replacement backer could not be found in time to continue the shoot, is due to Mr. Schurmann," a spokeswoman for Intermedia's German parent company IM Internationalmedia told The Hollywood Reporter Monday.

IM, which announced the suspension Monday, said it was looking into possible legal action against Schurmann.

As chairman and CEO of IM Internationalmedia from May 2005 to July of this year, Schurmann oversaw all of the company's projects, including "Stopping Power," its flagship production.

IM shares, which have been in free-fall since the beginning of this year, inched up €0.02 to €0.14 ($0.19) in early trading Monday.

The fate of "Stopping Power" and IM in general remains unclear.

IM said Monday it is in talks with potential investors to refinance the de Bont film. For the moment, production has been suspended. An IM spokeswoman said even if financing can be found, the production may have to shift locations, away from Berlin and Studio Babelsberg, where it had been shooting.

The collapse of IM Stopping Power GmbH could also have a knock-on effect on the rest of the company. The production company is a subsidiary of IM's production unit. It is still unclear to what extent, if any, the financial problems of IM Stopping Power GmbH extend to the parent company.

For Schurmann, it is an ignoble end to his career at Intermedia. Schurmann took over as chairman and CEO of IM Internationalmedia in 2005, replacing Moritz Bormann. He shifted the company's strategy away from big-budget, high risk productions such as "Alexander" and "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines" towards more television production and mid-budget genre fare.

But IM failed to land a hit. Its biggest production of last year -- "Basic Instinct 2" -- was a major flop. IM booked a $28 million net loss last year and a $6.4 million loss in the first half of 2007.

Schurmann sold off his 4.7% stake in IM earlier this year for an estimated $2.7 million. In July he resigned as chairman and CEO of the company.