Potsdam – Does Potsdam have to worry about the future of Studio Babelsberg, the world’s oldest large-scale film studio and successor to Defa? “We are in negotiations with a European investor. The goal is the expansion and internationalization of the studio ”- as quoted by“ Bild ”and“ BZ ”in a report on Friday, studio boss Carl Woebcken. There is a “sales thriller” about the film studio.
Studio Babelsberg AG did not deny Woebcken’s statements on Friday in response to a PNN request; an intention to sell was not denied either. However, studio director Christoph Fisser, who took over Studio Babelsberg together with Woebcken in 2004 for a symbolic euro, tried to smooth things over.
The studio is “continuously in discussions and negotiations with companies, potential investors and partners”. The aim is always “to secure the studio in the long term and to promote expansion and internationalization in global competition, in which we are increasingly involved”.
No talk of the one “foreign investor”
Fisser’s statement no longer mentions the one “foreign investor” with whom the bosses of the AG are “in negotiations”. Fisser also left it open in whose property the existence of Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam should be secured. However, the studio’s board of directors emphasized that the studio had to reposition itself again and again and see which partnerships would make sense, especially when it came to future technologies.
Fisser continues: “Should these negotiations result in concrete results or new structures, we will announce them accordingly.” With reference to the “Bild” report, this is “not the case”.
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Studio Babelsberg, founded in 1912, is considered the cradle of German film. According to the information, the studio currently employs 99 permanent, 337 project-related temporary employees and 15 trainees. Brandenburg’s Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD), who recently visited the studio, said in response to a PNN request: “Studio Babelsberg is a success story – and we assume that it will continue its success story. We have no knowledge of specific items to be negotiated, so we cannot provide any information on detailed questions such as workplaces. “
Steinbach was a guest in the studio on August 20, and he announced via the short message service Twitter that he had followed “the shooting of the Netflix mystery series ‘1899’” in the new studio for virtual film productions. According to the minister, the LED studio impressively demonstrates “the great innovative strength of the media city”.
City hall informed about plans
Steinbach also got into conversation with the bosses of Studio Babelsberg. At the request of the PNN he admitted that “the further development of the studio as well as the future strategic direction were part of the visit”.
According to its own statements, the Potsdam City Hall has also been informed about the plans of Studio Babelsberg, but does not comment on “ongoing negotiations between private-sector actors,” it said when asked by PNN.
Woebcken and Fisser took over the traditional company a good 17 years ago – for a symbolic euro. In addition, the French group Vivendi paid them start-up financing of 18 million euros. Back then, too, there were great concerns about the myth of Babelsberg.
But Woebcken and Fisser brought Hollywood to Babelsberg, numerous well-known films were made in the studio, stars like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt shot in Potsdam.
Successful despite Corona
After the first slump in the corona pandemic, the studio made a profit of 10.8 million euros last year – this is the best result in the company’s recent history. In 2019 it was 2.1 million euros. In 2020, sales rose from € 73.1 million in 2019 to € 135 million.
In 2020, shooting for the fourth part of the “Matrix” series with Keanu Reeves and the computer game adaptation “Uncharted” with Tom Holland took place in the studio. The company speaks of the best studio occupancy rate since 2004.
In March 2020, filming was interrupted due to the pandemic. Several hundred project employees were meanwhile left with nothing – but they could then apply for short-time allowance. Since July, the studio has been shooting again under hygienic conditions.
Significant increase in dividend
For the 2021 financial year, too, “very good business development is emerging”, according to the annual report from July. The fourth part of the action series “John Wick” with Keanu Reeves was on the shooting schedule, as was the new mystery series “1899” for the streaming platform Netflix.
The shareholders were pleased that the dividend was increased significantly – to 35 cents instead of 6 or 4 cents as in previous years. The online portal wallstreet estimates the total value of Studio Babelsberg AG at EUR 31.35 million, as of Friday at a price of EUR 1.90 per share. The company has not been listed on the stock exchange for five years, but has decided to “delist”. (with yeah)