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Christian Becker and Anita Schneider • Producers

Packing a Punch

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Christian Becker and Anita Schneider • Producers

“Big entertainment – that’s our goal and what we like to see ourselves,” says producer Christian Becker about the strategy of the Munich-based production house Rat Pack Filmproduktion he founded with Constantin Film AG, Anita Schneider and a group of screenwriters and directors in winter 2001.

The core team of collaborators at Rat Pack had been working together since their film school days in the mid-1990s at Munich’s University of Television & Film (HFF): “I have always worked with Peter Thorwarth, starting with his short films and then going on to his feature film Bang Boom Bang, the feature-length version of Was nicht passt… and Goldene Zeiten. The same is with Dennis Gansel with Wrong Trip and Living Dead leading to his first feature-length project Das Phantom and now The Wave [+see also:
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.”

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Rat Pack began with a focus on working for German television – ranging from such TV movies as Hunt for the Hidden Relic or Blood of the Templars as well as the comedy series the ProSieben Fairy Tales and the ProSieben Funny Movies – but Becker and Schneider are aiming “to get to a situation where we can make something in English every two years, although German TV programs and feature films will continue to be our area of emphasis.”

The next project Rat Pack is planning with the duo is a feature film around the 1960s cult detective Jerry Cotton which will be the company’s first flagship project for 2009. Becker promises “a fantastic new interpretation which will be like the way people approached Starsky & Hutch. It won’t be a parody because we take the character of Jerry Cotton very seriously but we see him a bit like Inspector Drebin in The Naked Gun. The film industry as well as the fans and readers are already all very enthusiastic.”

Last winter saw Sebastian Niemann working on the comedy Killing is My Business, Honey in and around Berlin with a cast including Rick Kavanian, Nora Tschirner, Christan Tramitz, Gunther Kaufmann and movie icons Franco Nero and Bud Spencer. Warner Bros. will release the film next spring.

Meanwhile, this summer saw the company handling the production of two feature film projects at the same time: Christian Ditter’s adaptation of Max von der Gruen’s 1977 novel Vorstadtkrokodile, produced with Rat Pack’s Krefeld-based sister company Westside Filmproduktion and Constantin Film, and Michael “Bully” Herbig’s Vickie the Viking which is billed as the most expensive German family entertainment film to be produced this year.

And Becker and Schneider, together with their in-house creative producers Lena Olbrich, Nina Maag, Mathias Loesel and Simon Happ, have plenty in store for the future to keep German and international audiences on tenterhooks. Projects in development range from the vampire love story The Dawn and a war drama based on Gert Ledig’s novel Vergeltung – both to be directed by Dennis Gansel – to a plane catastrophe film and a western set during the Second World War by Peter Thorwarth.

v Three feature films are also in the works with Sebastian Niemann: the aforementioned English remake of Hunt for the Hidden Relic, a big screen version of the children’s classic Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, and a sequel to his 2006 film Hui Buh - The Goofy Ghost.

“This time, it will be ‘Hui Buh meets The Mummy’,” Becker explains. “After the first part was in dark woods and dungeons, the adventure’s journey will now be going to Egypt!”

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