Fred Kogel, head of Germany’s Leonine Studios, will receive this year’s Game Changer Award at the 2023 Zurich Summit
The award, presented on Oct. 1 at the Zurich Film Festival’s film industry section, honors a leading personality from the international film industry whose “extraordinary efforts serve to advance the sector.”
Kogel certainly seems to fit the bill. A veteran of the German film and TV industry, Kogel held top corporate positions at public broadcaster ZDF, commercial network SAT.1 and leading producer/distributor Constantin Film, which he ran as CEO from 2003 to 2009, before founding Leonine four years ago.
Since then, with backing from private equity group KKR fueling an acquisitions and expansion spree, Kogel has built up Leonine into one of Europe’s leading independent producer-distributors with an operation that covers all aspects of film and TV production and distribution.
The group’s subsidiaries include The Lives of Others producers Wiedemann & Berg (whose TV division, W&B Television produced Netflix hit Dark and German fantasy series The Gryphon for Amazon Prime), Odeon Fiction, and documentary specialists Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion. On the film side, Leonine handled German distribution for such hits as Rian Johnson’s Knives Out and the John Wick franchise and will be rolling out the hotly-anticipated prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes in the territory in November. In-house, Leonine produced and distributed the hit German children’s film franchise The School of Magical Animals.
Upcoming productions include the bestseller adaptation The Billion Dollar Code for Paramount+ and Girl You Know It’s True, about the rise, and scandalous fall, of German pop duo Milli Vanilli, directed by Simon Verhoeven and starring Matthias Schweighöfer (Army of Thieves) as Frank Farian, the Svengali-like producer who created the lip-sync phenomenon.
Zurich Film Festival’s artistic director Christian Jungen praised Kogel for building Leonine “from the ground up” into a “new entertainment company for the digital age that brings together the most exciting artists and successful producers, allowing them to focus on their core strengths while the studio takes care of services such as HR, marketing and sales. He has given fresh impetus with this professional outfit to the German film and TV industry [ensuring] German productions get the international recognition they deserve.”
Kogel, saying he was delighted with the honor, saying he shared the Game Changer Award with all of Leonine’s employees, calling it “both a confirmation of our passion for storytelling and our energy [and also] an incentive for us to continue to push the boundaries and shape the industry.”
Previous Game Changer Award winners include MGM’s Motion Picture Group President Pamela Abdy, former Lionsgate head Patrick Wachsberger and Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker and Tom Bernard.
The 2023 Zurich International Film Festival runs Sept. 28-Oct. 8.