Lots of money and a lack of ideas


(Only the excerpt relevant to Battlefield Earth)

Hollywood, USA
August 14, 2000
SPIEGEL 33/2000, pp. 80

German media companies with billions from the New Market throng to Hollywood: they finance their expensive projects with world stars, buy up movie packages or even entire firms. Their money is being taken with much pleasure, but the nouveau rich investors are not regarded seriously.

For years the script was passed back and forth like a dirty porno book. "Battlefield Earth," a more than 1,000 page science fiction novel by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard, was regarded as too great of a risk by film managers in the major studios.

Then out came a Nobody from Germany, and the project took form. Ruediger ("Barry") Baeres, 40, felt he was up to the task shunned by the professionals. The founder and chief of Intertainment AG appeared as co-financier and partner of Ellie Samaha, a Lebanese by birth, an outsider in the American movie metropolis.

Several months ago the 65 million dollar project made it into the American movie theaters - and failed. Hardly anybody wanted to see the work in which Baeres had placed such great hope; after several weeks the film was taken off the schedules. It did not even make it to the German movie houses. Critics ridiculed the work with Scientologist John Travolta in the lead role as an absolutely miserable experience (Los Angeles Times), and said it had a good chance of getting the reputation of being the worst film of the new century (New York Times).

Now the Samaha/Baeres team is trying out "Champs," a movie about car racing with Sylvester Stallone. German calendar beauty Verona Feldbusch was permitted to play a little role for which Samaha obviously told her "I'll make you a star."

Financier Baeres was in on 60 films with Franchise Pictures, a company belonging to a former nightclub owner. The lawyer wants to finance the costs of at least 1.2 billion marks with the sale of the European rights - a bold plan.

There are currently many Barrys in Hollywood - German investors with money to spend. Small producers and movie brokers, who for years were insiders to the field, suddenly wanted to go along with an international film company up front.


German Scientology News