Senator Entertainment back in the black

Producer-distributor posts net profits of $1.3 million

COLOGNE, Germany -- German indie producer-distributor Senator Entertainment squeezed back into black ink in the first half of 2009, earning net profits of €900,000 ($1.3 million) on revenue of €15.9 million ($22.7 million).

It's a ray of sunshine for the Berlin-based group, which pushed through a radical restructuring plan last year to avoid collapse. The shake-up saw Senator hand its U.S. operation Senator Entertainment Inc. back to founder Marco Weber; spin off production, acquisition and marketing duties to new joint venture deutschfilm and sign co-acquisition/distribution deals with Universum Films and France's Wild Bunch to provide much-needed cash flow.

"We're on the right track, but we're not out of the woods yet," said Senator CEO Helge Sasse, noting the company was still drawing down on its assets in order to keep the lights on.

Senator has had a huge hit in Germany with Stephen Daldry's "The Reader," which earned more than $20 million at the local boxoffice, but its post-restructured focus has been on German releases. Upcoming titles include the comedy "Whiskey With Vodka" from art house favorite Andreas Dresen ("Cloud 9") and mountain climbing drama "Nanga Parbat" from veteran Joseph Vilsmaier ("Comedian Harmonists").