Dan Maag • Producer
“Our goal is to reach a wide audience with our productions”
- German Films chatted to producer Dan Maag about his production company along with Marco Beckmann and Matthias Schweighöfer, Pantaleon Entertainment
“We are not the people for niche markets, our goal is to reach a wide audience with our productions,“ says producer Dan Maag, one of the cofounders of Pantaleon Entertainment along with investor Marco Beckmann and actor-producer-director Matthias Schweighöfer.
Their first feature production What a Man – in co-production with Fox International Productions and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox of Germany – was followed by a raft of comedies directed by and starring Schweighöfer such as Break Up Man, The Manny [+see also:
film profile] and Joy of Fatherhood.
But the young company didn’t restrict itself to only handling projects by its co-founder. “Pantaleon may have begun with films by and with Matthias, but it was never conceived as just being a vehicle for his projects,“ Maag explains.
Indeed, the production powerhouse soon widened its sights to bring such directors as Markus Goller (Frau Ella [+see also:
film profile]), Aron Lehmann (Highway to Hellas [+see also:
film profile]) or Florian David Fitz (The Most Beautiful Day [+see also:
film profile]) and Torsten Künstler (Hot Dog) into its roster of talent.
“I’m not a great believer of contractual constraints, but prefer the idea of building up a family of like-minded collaborators,“ Maag observes, pointing out that, from the outset, Pantaleon “has had a long-term vision of the direction we want to go in, and we have been interested in developing lasting partnerships with creative artists rather than going from one project to another.“
Moreover, the company has built up working partnerships with other German production companies on its projects and last year served as a co-producer on Erfttal’s first in-house production, Die Vierhändige by Oliver Kienle.
And the decision to become listed on the stock exchange in Frankfurt in 2015 gave Pantaleon the financial means “to realize our bigger dreams. We haven’t regretted doing this,“ Maag declares, “but it was a new experience to have shareholders as partners who are following what we are doing.“
While Pantaleon might initially have seemed rather typecast as a highly successful purveyor of crowd-pleasing comedies, this changed a couple of years ago when the German office of Warner Bros. came to Maag and his two partners with the idea for a TV series which subsequently evolved into You Are Wanted, with Schweighöfer directing and starring as well as producing. “That really was a godsend because it allowed us to try out something else,“ Maag recalls. At the same time, they were aware that all eyes in the German film and TV industry would be watching to see how they fared in producing what became the first German Amazon Original series.
But what they didn’t know during the production of the series was that Amazon Prime Video would decide to release it this past March simultaneously in more than 200 countries. This was the widest release ever for a German TV series, but it only took Amazon a matter of a few days after the online premiere on 17 March to announce that an order had been made for Pantaleon to deliver a second season of You Are Wanted. In 70 countries the series was among the five most seen on Amazon Prime Video during the weekend after the premiere.
The company’s portfolio expanded last year to launch an online streaming platform – Pantaflix – which adopted a unique approach by allowing producers to cut out the gatekeepers and middlemen and retain 75% of the sales on a film, while pantaflix.com takes a 25% commission. Pantaflix had already amassed some 5,000 titles by the end of last year and is now aiming to have 40,000 in its catalogue by the end of 2017. In addition, Pantaflix’s visibility at home in Germany will have been given a welcome boost this year by the decision of the German Film Academy to enter into an exclusive agreement with the platform.
While a second season of You Are Wanted will now be on the company’s future roster, Pantaleon has also been continuing its close working relationship with the private broadcaster Sat.1. Moreover, work is currently underway on the screenplay for an adaptation of Jessica Koch’s bestselling semi-autobiographical debut novel So Near the Horizon which will mark Pantaleon’s first collaboration with the distributor Studiocanal. And the company has teamed up with the veteran director and DoP Joseph Vilsmaier for a two-part TV event movie based on Peter Seewald’s biography of Josef Ratzinger who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
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