In his more than three decades at Constantin Film, Martin Moszkowicz has overseen the production of hundreds of films, including such box office successes as “Downfall,” “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” the hugely popular “Fack Ju Goehte” films and the hit “Resident Evil” franchise.
This year’s CinemaCon is honoring Constantin’s longtime CEO for his work and continuing success at the global box office.
Speaking to Variety, Moszkowicz looks back at his career and discusses Constantin’s current challenges, its diverse lineup, new productions and expanding film and television activities.
Moszkowicz has headed Germany’s most successful production and distribution group since 2014. While Germany remains its main market, Constantin has had a global outlook since its beginnings, and it was due in part to Moszkowicz’s international experience that he landed his first job at the company.
The late Bernd Eichinger, Constantin’s venerated founder and managing director, recruited Moszkowicz in 1990. At the time Moszkowicz had a small production company and was producing films around the world. When he joined Constantin, he brought along what would be his first project at the company: Andrew Birkin’s romantic drama “Salt on Our Skin,” starring Greta Scacchi and Vincent D’Onofrio. Shot in Scotland, France, North America and the Caribbean, it was typical of the kinds of films Moszkowicz was producing at the time.
That experience made him an ideal candidate for Constantin, which was focusing on both German and international productions, including such classics as “The Name of the Rose” and “The NeverEnding Story.”
Eichinger had decided to move to Los Angeles and asked Moszkowicz to come aboard as head of production. “He was looking for someone who was internationally versed, who had an idea of the scope of the movies Constantin was famous for but also to do German-language films, which were still the backbone of the company, even though we had these big international films,” Moszkowicz recalls. “It all changed pretty fast, though, because Bernd, as he said many times, hated L.A. and he didn’t really want to stay there.”
In the end it was Moszkowicz who went to California in the 1990s to build up Constantin’s Los Angeles office with the team while Eichinger focused more on Europe.
More than three decades later, Moszkowicz still visits the L.A. office regularly, but the company is a far cry from the Constantin of old.
“It was a family business – it was run like an Italian family business chapter of the mafia,” Moszkowicz says with a laugh. “We had a huge amount of fun. It was a very Bernd-centric company.
“I was actually the second producer to join the company. Today, we have over 50 producers working at Constantin.”
Indeed, the company has gone from 35 employees at the time to some 800 today.
It was Constantin’s 1999 public offering that transformed it from a small dynamic company into a corporate group. “I’m still trying to figure out if that was a good or a bad thing,” Moszkowicz quips. There was little choice if the company wanted to remain independent during the IPO boom of the time, he adds.
A decade later, Constantin became part of Swiss media giant Highlight Communications, which continues to own 100% of the company.
Despite its growth, Constantin’s DNA has remained unchanged as it continues to focus on movies for both the German market and global audiences.
“Nobody else in Germany is doing that and very, very few companies in Europe do it. It’s one of the big things that separate us from all our competitors. That is something that has stayed the same. Bernd always saw the producer at the center of any show and that is part of our mission statement: We are a producer-oriented company.”
Constantin has also remained a very solid and stable company, he adds, and that strength has helped the company weather major storms, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing geopolitical upheavals.
“Obviously there are some things that you cannot change. The theatrical business for the last two years has been incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Luckily enough our production business has been booming at the same time.”
The company has also seen bustling business in license trading, which has helped it get through hard times.
“Luckily we have rights — we have something that we can still monetize and can still sell. A lot of the new business models, especially with the streamers, are based on the concept that the producer or production company doesn’t keep anything and that’s hardly ever negotiable. If we had done that 10, 20 or 30 years ago, we would not exist today because we could not have survived this crisis.”
After it appeared the pandemic was easing, the invasion of Ukraine began. Apart from the immense human tragedy, the war has had “a huge effect on us because it means basically that another huge theatrical market is not accessible anymore. On a purely business level, it means that Russia is not a market anymore. You add that with China, which is so hard to access with international movies these days, and two of the major theatrical pillars of the business have disappeared for the time being, and that is a challenge. But the movie business — probably more than any other business — has been able to adjust to all these challenges over the years.”
Flexibility, Moszkowicz stresses, is essential in navigating stormy waters.
Constantin is now gearing up for what he describes as one of the company’s best slates in years, kicking off in May with Leander Haussmann’s Cold War pic “A Stasi Comedy” and the animated “Mia and Me: The Hero of Centopia.” Other releases include Anika Decker’s “Love Thing”; Ed Herzog’s Bavarian cop comedy “Guglhupf Squadron”; “After Ever Happy,” Castille Landon’s latest installment in the “After” film series; and Doris Dörrie’s “Freibad.”
The company’s upcoming productions include Paul W.S. Anderson’s fantasy adventure “In the Lost Lands,” based on a story by George R.R. Martin; and Landon’s MMA love story “Perfect Addiction.”
Also set for production this year is Cyrill Boss and Philipp Stennert’s “Hagen von Tronje,” a revisionist retelling of the Nibelungen saga based on Wolfgang Hohlbein’s bestseller. It’s “one of the biggest project movies we’ve ever mounted,” says Moszkowicz, adding that it’s planned as a feature film and six-part TV series.
Another major TV production is Netflix’s new “Resident Evil” live-action series from showrunner Andrew Dabb, premiering in July.
Last year the company broadened its film and TV operations with a number of new subsidiaries and divisions, including Los Angeles-based Upgrade Productions, a partnership with Matt Brodlie, Jonathan Kier and BRON Studios that is developing and producing local-language films and series for global audiences.
In Vienna, Constantin teamed with former Tele München Group chief Herbert G. Kloiber on the High End Productions joint venture to similarly develop and produce premium European scripted series for the international market. Projects in the works include Roland Emmerich’s “Those About to Die,” which explores the savage games and spectator sports of ancient Rome; and, from writer William Boyd (“Spy City”), “Maximilian and Carlota,” about the life of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium.
The company also established Constantin Dokumentation, which bundles its documentary production activities under one roof. The move followed the success of such titles as “The Hidden Life of Trees.” Constantin’s continuing growth is further solidifying its international footing and expanding on the legacy and vision of its founder. For Moszkowicz, the company’s continuing success has been very much a team effort.
“I’m really proud to be part of this journey, and thanks to a wonderful team and the best people you can have in this business.”