EXCLUSIVE: New York funding agency KKR started its outstanding German shopping for spree 12 months in the past. When it was achieved, one of many world’s greatest movie and TV markets seemed dramatically totally different.
The bold studio it created, Leonine, is an accumulation of corporations together with movie and TV powerhouse TMG, movie distributor Universum, Darkish producers Wiedemann & Berg and manufacturing outfit i&u TV.
One of the vital-talked about new corporations in Europe, Leonine all of the sudden has a library of 1000’s, a whole lot of workers and spectacular pulling energy. Consolidation on increased floor is sensible in a market the place the streamers are rising apace.
The agency’s clout has already been delivered to bear on movie markets, the place it’s inevitably amongst Europe’s greatest patrons. Main acquisitions embody Knives Out (990,000 admissions/$9.6M field workplace in Germany, making it the third-biggest movie of 2020), Hustlers ($2.8M B.O), and multi-million greenback pre-buys together with Inferno and Moonfall.
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On the eve of EFM, we spoke to Leonine CEO Fred Kogel – previously of ZDF, ProSieben and Constantin – in regards to the agency’s outstanding rise, plans for EFM, future progress and the state of the German market.
Deadline: What are the priorities for Leonine in 2020?
Fred Kogel: The method of integrating and realigning the assorted corporations below Leonine Holding will proceed to be a precedence for us in 2020. Now we have acquired 5 corporations and we’re speaking a couple of full integration together with coming collectively below one roof in a brand new constructing in Munich – all this in below 12 months after the final closing. And we’ve got taken an enormous step ahead in what we do for our prospects. The mixing of all models is a fancy activity, each structurally and culturally. Now we have put collectively an excellent administration group to drive and implement this transformation course of involving all ranges and workers.
The Leonine Holding includes three enterprise divisions: Leonine Manufacturing brings collectively all of the manufacturing corporations and producers within the group. This has resulted in a extremely artistic, agile unit that’s geared to modern buyer necessities. This unit is able to produce high-quality and internationally main content material out of Germany for all program suppliers, whether or not characteristic movies, premium TV-series, non-fiction leisure, exhibits, infotainment or brief type content material for social media networks in all genres. Now we have pooled all distribution actions below Leonine Distribution. The theatrical releases in addition to the digital and bodily distribution of our content material happen on this phase. We refine our content material by means of focused advertising and marketing and proceed to construct up our high-profile program library.
Beneath Leonine Licensing we focus your complete licensing enterprise. We keep partnerships with all gamers within the U.S. and in German-speaking Europe for characteristic movie acquisitions and TV-series co-productions and we additionally intend to develop our world gross sales actions sooner or later.
Deadline: Inform us about your new HQ in Munich…
Fred Kogel: Our new headquarters are nonetheless below development and are positioned on the finish of Leopoldstrasse in Munich. The identify of this world-famous road and the lion because the Bavarian heraldic animal are an ideal match for our firm identify Leonine and join our roots with our values, which embody braveness, power, confidence and a robust sense for group play.
Since we keep many worldwide enterprise relations, a very good entry to Munich Airport with its glorious flight connections was essential to us, which is the case at this location. Development work is progressing nicely and we’re assured that we can transfer into our new headquarters as deliberate firstly of December 2020. We’ll deliver collectively roughly 300 workers of all Leonine actions in Munich at one location on about 6,400 sq. meters of flooring house.
Now we have intentionally chosen a spacious space, as we are going to proceed to develop within the coming years. It’s a extremely useful constructing with state-of-the-art tools, designed as an open house workplace, by the way in which additionally for the administration group. Along with a big Neighborhood Hub, the place the entire group can come collectively for joint conferences or occasions, we even have a roof terrace with espresso bar and two splendidly planted inside courtyards, in addition to enough retreat choices for concentrated and inventive work in groups or alone.
Our headquarter displays what we’re: younger, modern, progressive, tech-savvy, worldwide. As well as, we’ve got amenities in Cologne the place our nice non-fiction leisure firm i&u TV with 120 workers has its house and we function manufacturing places of work in Berlin.
Deadline: What are the precedence initiatives this 12 months in the case of movie and TV manufacturing?
Fred Kogel: This 12 months, we are going to understand a complete of roughly 100 initiatives with Leonine Manufacturing and the manufacturing corporations Odeon Movie AG [a TMG subsidiary], Wiedemann & Berg and that i&u TV. Odeon is at the moment taking pictures three sequence for ZDF, together with the seventh season of A Case for Two, the 15th season of The Prosecutor and the ninth season of Disappeared – the M.P.U. in addition to a spy sequence set in Berlin within the 1960s known as Spy Metropolis.
In co-production with YLE in Finland, Odeon will produce the second season of the sequence Deadwind. Wiedemann & Berg has wrapped taking pictures the third season of Darkish and the brand new sequence Tribes of Europa for Netflix. For TNT, Max Wiedemann and Quirin Berg are producing Virtually Fly, a sequence in regards to the beginnings of Hip Hop in Germany and for the brand new streaming service Joyn and Sat.1 they’re producing the six-part sequence Blackout, which relies on the best-selling ebook of the identical identify. In addition they simply began taking pictures the second season of Pagan Peak for Sky.
Our manufacturing unit i&u TV realizes extremely popular and profitable present occasions for the foremost German free TV stations. Reveals embody Klein Gegen Groß for ARD and Denn Sie Wissen Nicht, Was Wassiert for RTL. With the weekly format sternTV and its accompanying YouTube-channel, i&u TV runs essentially the most profitable late-prime-time infotainment present on German tv.
Our Chief Digital Officer, Christian Meinberger, not too long ago produced the social media format #yourMSC in cooperation with the celebrated Munich Safety Convention and YouTube. Three worldwide YouTubers met with heads of state, high politicians, scientists, navy and enterprise leaders in the course of the convention to offer younger individuals with fascinating insights throughout one of the vital conferences on world safety.
Deadline: To what extent do you want to continue to grow and into what areas?
Fred Kogel: In 2020 we’re nonetheless busy consolidating the businesses and rising organically. Additional progress is on our agenda from 2021 onwards, particularly within the areas of German manufacturing, worldwide co-production and world gross sales. There can also be additional M&A actions, if it is sensible.
Deadline: How does a brand new German indie studio co-exist with the streamers?
Fred Kogel: We don’t compete with the streaming suppliers. They’re our companions. We purpose to be the one-stop store for premium content material for all our companions. Whether or not characteristic movie or sequence, fiction or non-fiction, whether or not in-house-produced, co-produced or licensed, whether or not nationwide or worldwide, whether or not new product or library, with us, each program supplier will get a 360-degree supply together with social media codecs that’s tailor-made to their particular person wants and is among the many finest out there in the marketplace.
We share an excellent ardour for content material and wish to be a dependable associate for artistic skills, serving to them understand their concepts. With our award-winning group of producers, like Quirin Berg, Max Wiedemann, Mischa Hofmann and Andreas Zaik, and our distribution and licensing models, we will accomplish simply that. The demand for applications will proceed to extend because of the market entry of recent gamers and new types of use will generate new kinds of content material. Christian Meinberger produces content material for social media platforms. We’re additionally very nicely aligned within the digital sector. On this sense, our purpose is to assist form the digital transformation as a most popular associate for program suppliers of all types.
Deadline: How energetic will you be on the acquisitions entrance at EFM and different main movie markets this 12 months? Will you’ve got output offers?
Fred Kogel: Our operational purpose is to launch about 20 movies theatrically annually and to repeatedly develop our in depth licensing library when it comes to amount and high quality. 5 of these titles shall be native German productions of Leonine or co-productions with our valued companions.
Program suppliers of all types are to search out premium content material that fits their particular person wants. That’s why we are going to stay very energetic in characteristic movie acquisitions and shall be current in any respect vital movie markets. This additionally applies to the EFM. With Hustlers and Knives Out – our first acquisitions as Leonine – we’ve got already launched two new characteristic movies with nice success.
Hustlers delivered in keeping with our expectation on the box-office. We launched Knives Out throughout cinemas in German-speaking Europe firstly of January. The film is now shut to 1 million admissions and continues to do very nicely.
Deadline: Will you be launching your individual on-line content material platform?
Fred Kogel: With House of Horror, Arthouse CNMA, and Filmtastic, we at the moment have three SVOD channels and with TELE 5 and RTLZWEI two free-TV channels (with RTLZWEI being an funding) within the Leonine Distribution division. That is the unit devoted to the exploitation of our licensed product.
All SVOD channels can be found at Amazon Prime Video. Filmtastic can also be out there at Rakuten TV, on the Telekom Mediathek and on the platform Zattoo. We wish to additional develop the attain and availability of our SVOD channels. Aside from that, we’ve got no plans to launch our personal content material platform and enter into competitors with streaming suppliers. As I discussed earlier than: We see ourselves as their associate, not as a competitor.
Deadline: Many assume KKR will construct Leonine right into a formidable leisure firm, then look to promote it in say Three-5 years at a revenue. Does that ring true to you?
Fred Kogel: This query is requested approach too quickly 9 months after our begin, however it’s definitely respectable. KKR’s funding is medium to longterm, meaning 5-10 years. My group and I can dwell with that very nicely. All of us wish to construct a profitable firm and wish to develop. That is in one of the best curiosity for all our workers. As a non-public fairness investor, in fact KKR will wish to promote at some point at a revenue. This additionally could be very respectable.
Deadline: How do you assess the well being of the German marketplace for movie and TV content material as we speak?
Fred Kogel: For my part, the German-speaking marketplace for the manufacturing of characteristic movies, TV – fiction and non-fiction/leisure – could be very wholesome. The established gamers are diversifying their current enterprise fashions. This has resulted available in the market entry of recent program suppliers equivalent to Apple TV+, Disney+ in addition to TVNOW and Joyn within the German-speaking market.
The demand for high-quality and internationally aggressive applications will subsequently proceed to develop, additionally in Germany. This is applicable to all earlier than talked about kinds of content material. And it applies simply as a lot to the brand new market gamers because it does to the standard TV broadcasters, who should fill one or one other hole of their program schedules because of the elevated competitors for skills and content material. In distribution in addition to in manufacturing, we’re in a part of consolidation, which can achieve up velocity within the subsequent 5 years.
Deadline: German field workplace has dipped lately. To what extent can Germany enhance its exhibition infrastructure?
Fred Kogel: There may be a number of potential for enchancment within the theatrical exhibition panorama. We’d like fewer and higher movies and higher and extra snug cinemas. Customer support, buyer strategy and the intelligent curating of theatrical releases by exhibitors and distributors shall be key in addition to manufacturing corporations who don’t simply produce their movies as a result of they’ll finance them.
In Germany alone, round 900 movies have been launched in 2019, however 80% of them remained virtually invisible, because the admission figures present. This doesn’t make sense in any respect. For my part, the variety of movies launched should be decreased drastically and on the identical time their high quality should be elevated. Our purpose is to launch movies theatrically, which might be seen by potential viewers, that encourage the viewers and have industrial enchantment. This additionally requires the corresponding dedication on the a part of us as distributors by granting a release- and a P&A-commitment that can give the movies an opportunity to carry out.