Hamburg Swallows ‘India’ Takeaway

The city of Hamburg, Germany, is spending an estimated euro 135,000 to dismantle the tent left standing at Heiligengeistfeld after the collapse of Prime Time Entertainment.

The Mörfelden-based company was staging its production of “India” on the open space in the St. Pauli district, a run that was scheduled to last through February.

But low ticket sales forced the shows to be scrapped, and Prime Time chief Matthias Hoffmann filed the company for bankruptcy Feb. 10.

“Without the city of Hamburg’s fast-track action, we would not have been able to take down the tent,” said official receiver Jan Markus Plathner of Brinkmann & Partner in a Feb. 26 statement, which pointed out the local council is now a preferential creditor as far as the cost of dismantling the production is concerned.

The city will have to wait until the beginning of April, when Plathner will have more idea of how much Prime Time owes, to see if it’s likely to get any of the money it’s owed for the month-long rental of the Heiligengeistfeld site.

The Frankfurt-based receiver is holding talks with potential buyers interested in taking over the show. If that fails, the city may have to wait for its money until the tents and production equipment are sold.

“India” was to open in Berlin March 5 and run until April 11, but the dates have been canceled. Plathner hopes to sell the show as a going concern before it’s due to start similar runs in Munich (April 15-23), followed by Brussels, Dusseldorf and Vienna.

Clearing up the mess left by “India,” an 8,000-square-meter tent and container town, was expected to need 60 specialists working two full days.

It was also estimated that it would need 50 tractors to carry the tents and containers away, while many workmen are needed to roll up the 15 kilometres of cable left on the site.

“The concern of the city and the regional papers was that the site wouldn’t be cleared in time for the Frühlingsdom,” explained Susanne Frischling from the city’s culture, sport and media department, suggesting Hamburg had little choice about taking responsibility for clearing the site.

The Frühlingsdom is the largest fair in northern Germany and has more than 250 fairground rides, making its annual visit to Hamburg one of the city’s most popular family entertainment events.

“After doing well in Frankfurt India, expected 3,000 people per night in Hamburg – but it was only doing about 300,” said Brinkmann & Partner spokesman Sebastian Brunner, revealing that as many as 6,000 Hamburg ticketholders are likely to be among Prime Time’s creditors.

“India” was the second German-produced show to hit trouble this year. Franz Abraham of Art Concerts was forced at the beginning of February to scrap his Ben Hur Live spectaculars in Gelsenkirchen Veltins Arena and Austria’s Vienna Stadthalle because the company doesn’t have the cash to continue. Abraham is trying to get new investors to provide the cash to reschedule some of the shows.

Hoffmann is no stranger to financial difficulties. In 1998 a Mannheim court sentenced him to five years and eight months in prison for tax evasion.

He was found guilty of evading nearly $10 million in taxes while promoting The Three Tenors Tour.