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12 December 2000

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  • ABC journalists protest against Shier

    Some of Australia's most respected current affairs journalists and commentators declared war this week on Jonathan Shier, who took up the post of managing director of Australian public broadcaster, the ABC, in March. Maxine McKew, Kerry O'Brien and Robin Williams were among eight senior employees of the ABC who made an impassioned plea to the public to help them stop budgets and programmes being slashed, on-line and other new media being idolised, and services being subjected to commer
  • AFMA promotes Gagnon, expands collections unit

    Janet M Gagnon has been promoted to the position of vice president, collections & European policy for AFMA Collections, a division of the American Film Marketing Association that has now been expanded to non-AFMA members.AFMA Collections was launched in 1994 and provides members with a service to collect and administer copyright royalties and levies for their libraries. Gagnon has headed the division since it was founded. As part of her new position, Gagnon will become the focal
  • Ajax documentary withdrawn from Dutch cinemas

    Arthouse cinemas in the Dutch cities of The Hague, Groningen and Utrecht have pulled Roel van Dalen's feature-length documentary Ajax: Where They Heard Angels Sings off their screens following anonymous threats from football hooligans.The film, which premiered at this year's International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), follows the internationally-renowned Amsterdam soccer club, Ajax, throughout its 100-year history. The threats have come from the fans of competing c
  • Apollo Media boards Kershner's Cecilia

    German financier Apollo Media is backing five high-profile US projects via its fourth film fund, including Irvin Kershner's $15m historical romantic drama Cecilia, which is set to star Virginia Ledoyen and Jeremy Irons.Buena Vista has worldwide rights to the film about an affair between the composer Puccini and a young singer. Kershner has also written the script along with Mitchell Lifton.Apollo has also boarded Brian Burns' $7.9m love triangle comedy You Stupid Man
  • Bac planning wide release for Kitano's Brother

    French distributor Bac Films is releasing Takeshi Kitano's Brother on 300 screens across France on Wednesday, marking the country's biggest ever release of a Japanese film."It is also the largest opening anywhere for a film of mine," Kitano said at a press conference in Tokyo.The film, a cross-border gang thriller starring Kitano, Omar Epps and Claude Maki, is scheduled to be released in Japan and other European territories in January and in the US through Sony Pictures C
  • BCE gets greenlight for CTV takeover

    Canada's largest telecommunications company has received regulatory approval to buy the nation's largest private broadcaster. The $1.57bn deal caps a merger, announced in September, that brings together BCE, Canada's major telephone company and internet service provider; Thomson Corporation, the major electronic information company and publisher of the national newspaper The Globe and Mail; and CTV, the largest television broadcaster, to create a $2.7bn communications force.Unde
  • Berlin's Kinderfilmfest picks four UK titles

    The UK is already well represented in the line-up selected so far for the forthcoming Children's Film Festival (Kinderfilmfest) sidebar at the 51st Berlin International Film Festival (February 7-18, 2001).To date, four UK titles have been chosen: modern fairytale There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, directed by John Hay and starring Robert Carlyle, Gina McKee and Ray Winstone; coming-of-age tale The Testimony Of Taliesin Jones, by Martin Duffy, with the late Ian Bannen, Jonath
  • Buena Vista acquires Living Forest for Spain

    Buena Vista International Spain (BVIS) has picked up Spanish theatrical and video rights to local animated feature film The Living Forest (El Bosque Animado).Digital satellite platform Via Digital has pay-TV rights to the film, while free-to-air rights in Spain are still under negotiation. BVIS is expected to release Forest in summer 2001.The $3m (PTS550m) project, still in production, is billed as Europe's first animated 3D feature. According to executive producer
  • Canada's Prophecy launches distribution outfit

    Vancouver-based production and international distribution company Prophecy Entertainment is launching a theatrical distribution subsidiary for the North American market. The new company, 4Wall Media, will focus on independent fare while pursuing marketing opportunities online via a branded web-site, expected to launch in the first quarter of 2001. The web-site also aims to provide creative services to client film-makers, including online audience feedback. In a statement, Prophe
  • Canal shareholders back birth of Vivendi Universal

    The final pieces of financing have fallen into place on Thomas Vinterberg's eagerly-awaited new project It's All About Love, his first since acclaimed Dogme title The Celebration, with France's Slot Machine and Sweden's Memfis Film boarding as co-producers, and Japan's Shochiku pre-buying Japanese rights.The $10m English-language science-fiction love fable, originated by Denmark's Nimbus Film, will shoot from April 1, 2001 on location and in studios in Denmark and Film i
  • Carlton rethinks European internet alliance

    The UK's Carlton Communications has scaled back its plans for an internet "Grand @lliance" with France's TF1 and the Epsilon trio of Kirch, Mediaset and Telecinco.According to sources, the pact came unstuck when it failed to secure financial commitments from Kirch, Mediaset and Telecinco. But Carlton denies that its internet strategy has been blown off course. It will continue to form pragmatic alliances with other broadcast and internet partners.Carlton says it will now revert
  • Cast Away

    Dir: Robert Zemeckis. US. 2000. 143 mins. Prod cos: ImageMovers, Playtone. US dist: 20th Century Fox. Int'l dist: DreamWorks SKG. Exec prod: Joan Bradshaw. Prods: Steve Starkey, Tom Hanks, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke. Scr: William Broyles Jr. DoP: Don Burgess. Prod des: Rick Carter. Ed: Arthur Schmidt. Mus: Alan Silvestri. Main cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy.Audience-pleasing filmmaker Robert Zemeckis strikes gold again with Cast Away, an intriguing saga
  • Cattleya in line for major cash boost

    Italian production outfit Cattleya is set to receive two major tranches of investment from one of Italy's leading financial groups, San Paolo IMI Private Equity, and multimedia giant De Agostini.The company said it would use the cash injection to ramp up production to about eight or 10 features a year. Cattleya's Giovanni Stabilini said: "What attracted these partners to us is our unusual approach to production by Italian standards. Where most companies cannot produce more than one or
  • Chabrol awarded France's Prix Louis-Delluc

    Claude Chabrol's latest opus Nightcap (Merci Pour Le Chocolat) has won France's coveted Prix Louis-Delluc, while Laurent Cantet's Sundance title Human Resources has been awarded the Louis-Delluc prize for a first film.Other contenders included Dominik Moll's Cannes sensation Harry, Un Ami Qui Vous Veut Du Bien, Jean-Pierre Denis' Les Blessures Assassines, Arnaud Despechin's English-language period piece Esther Kahn and Alain Cavalier's Vies.
  • CinemaxX hit by drop in admissions

    German exhibitor CinemaxX's shares plunged almost 40% to Euros4 on Thursday, in reaction to news that the company is being forced to issue a profit warning because of unexpectedly low cinema admissions over the last few months.CinemaxX, which together with its partner Ufa operates 623 screens in 54 locations, said it would report a "two digit million mark loss" for the first six months of the current financial year (July-Dec 2000).The company said it had "firmly assumed that the
  • Diller sells TV stations, eyes film networks next

    Now that Barry Diller has sold his television stations to Univision, the leading Spanish-language network in the US, he is free to make yet another play for Cablevision's cable networks including both American Movie Classics and the Independent Film Channel.Under the deal announced on Thursday, Diller's USA Networks agreed to offload its string of 13 local TV stations, some serving such prized urban markets as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia, plus minority stakes
  • Dinosaur stirs up ratings row in Italy

    Italian communications under-secretary Vincenzo Vita has called for a parental guidance classification to be added to Italy's ratings system, after a row erupted over the bloody scenes in Walt Disney's Dinosaur.The Italian Parliament and local parental associations have lashed out against the blockbuster's unrestricted release, which they claim doesn't give parents the non-violence guarantee normally offered by a Disney Christmas movie. 'Minors must be paid adequate atten
  • DNA passes review despite not releasing a film

    Duncan Kenworthy and Andrew Macdonald's DNA Films, which has yet to release a film, has become the third and final UK National Lottery franchise to pass its mid-term review.The operation can now access the remainder of the $42m (£29m) in lottery cash that it was originally awarded over six years. The review was carried out by accountants KPMG under the auspices of UK film super body the Film Council.Despite being the only franchise to have not yet opened a film, DNA has some lee
  • Don's Plum set to screen at Berlin

    RD Robb's Don's Plum, a controversial film about teenagers hanging out at an all-night diner, which was banned in the US by co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, has been selected for the upcoming Berlin Film Festival's Panorama section.The film, which was shot for $100,00 over six days in 1995 and 1996, revolves around a group of friends who meet at a late-night diner where they discuss life and how to lure girls into having sex with them. Apart from now famous DiCaprio
  • EM.TV CEO Thomas Haffa may step down

    EM.TV & Merchandising CEO Thomas Haffa has said that he would consider resigning if he fails to restore the confidence of analysts and investors in the troubled TV production and merchandising concern. In a hard-hitting interview by Hans-Juergen Jakobs and Armin Mahler for this week's Der Spiegel weekly magazine, Haffa said: "We are trying to restore [the confidence] by delivering proper figures and repairs. Should this not succeed, then I would clearly have to think about the c
  • EM.TV fall from grace typifies Neuer Markt agonies

    At a Wednesday morning price of Euros8.30, EM.TV & Merchandising's shares are so far below their peak as to be almost unrecognisable. They are 93% below their 2000 peak of Euros119.5.But EM.TV's demise represents more than the fall from grace of one overly ambitious firm. The company was one of the first to take advantage of the Frankfurt's second tier stockmarket, the Neuer Markt, and rapidly infused it with some glamour and real sense of blue sky possibilities. It paved the way for s
  • E-M-S New Media acquires stake in Advanced

    Rapidly-expanding German video and DVD distributor E-M-S New Media has secured a flow of top-flight US and European product by acquiring a 24.7% stake in film licence trader Advanced Medien, with an option to buy an additional 13%.The Neuer Markt-listed company said the deal would allow it to secure commercially interesting licences at an early stage, taking advantage of Advanced's 51% stake in LA-based production and sales outfit Unified Film Organization (U.F.O.) and a joint producin
  • Exports drive Canadian film and video sales

    It's not happening on a Hollywood scale but just as in Tinseltown the international market is driving Canada's film and video industry. For the first time, international sales accounted for more than half of sales of Canadian content production, according to surveys by Statistics Canada for the years 1997-98 and 1998-99. "It's a North American trend," Stats Can analyst Fidel Ifedi told ScreenDaily, although in the Canadian context, he added, "US movies dominate in Canada to
  • FFC warns film-makers of funding shortage

    The Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC) has warned film-makers that it will only support projects with high levels of finance from other sources over the next six months.The funding body will also insist on attractive recoupment and other terms. This is because a large number of producers successfully sought finance in the first half of the financial year, and the FFC is concerned that it could run out of funds before the year-end.Films that have contributed to this increa
  • Flickering Lights puts Grinch in the shade

    Danish films are coming out in force this autumn, fighting for a share of the local audience. Barely a week goes by without a new local film premiering, giving US fare a run for its money as never before. Flickering Lights, the feature directing debut from talented screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen, is in its fifth week at number one, keeping even The Grinch and Dinosaurs at bay. The Grinch failed to shine in Denmark, as it had done in the US and UK, with
  • French broadcast quotas not affected by EU Treaty

    France managed to hold on to its broadcast quotas in the Nice Treaty finally signed by the 15 member states of the European Union on Monday (Dec 11).France, which has been striving to protect what it describes as the European Union's "cultural diversity", successfully retained its veto on decisions affecting trade in financial services and cultural goods such as film.The treaty, which scraps national vetoes in such areas as copyrights, trademarks and services, is meant to streng
  • IN-motion's fifth fund to back Brosnan starrer

    Germany's aggressively acquisitive IN-motion has launched a private media fund, World Media Fonds V (WMF V), through which it plans to raise at least $45m (DM100m) for three projects including $46m Pierce Brosnan-starrer The Day After Tomorrow.WMF V is also backing $32m martial arts TV movie Invincible, which is being executive produced by Mel Gibson and Jet Li and distributed internationally by Alliance Atlantis; and $52m children's film Tricky, which combines liv
  • Investors warm to Vivendi Universal

    After a 1.6% fall on their first day of trading mostly due to technical arbitrages, Vivendi Universal shares livened up a flat French stock market on Tuesday (Dec 12), opening at Euros75.25, for a 1.69% gain.The bullish trend - helped by the fact that Vivendi Universal opened up 3% at $65 on Wall Street the previous day - was sustained. The shares grew 2.8% to reach Euros76.80 by midday. The new combine can also take comfort from the fact that Universal Studios is vying with Dis
  • Japanese DVD sales set to triple by 2003

    Sales of DVDs in Japan are set to overtake sales of videocassettes next year, and more than triple to $3.106bn (Y341.7bn) by 2003, according to a report from the Japan Video Software Association (JVSA). In 1999, the market share of DVDs in Japan was only 12%, rising to 30% in the first half of 2000. Sales for the whole of 2000 are forecast to reach $948.2m (Y104.3bn). In a second, high-range forecast, JVSA estimated that sales could increase to $3.620bn (Y398.2bn) in 2003.DVD's
  • Julian Senior to leave Warner Bros after 30 years

    Julian Senior, the well-known head of European Regional Advertising and Publicity at Warner Bros Pictures, is to leave the company at the end of the year after 30 years at the company."We will certainly miss him and his contribution to our company and our films," said Richard Fox, executive vice president, international, at Warner Bros, "but after so many successful years at the heart of the studio's European marketing and publicity operations, we understand and support his desire to
  • Julianne Moore named Sundance honoree

    Julianne Moore will receive the 10th Anniversary Piper-Heidsick Tribute to Independent Vision at the Sundance Film Festival next month in Park City, Utah. The tribute was created "to honour a film artist who has made a significant and unique contribution to independent film." The award will be presented on Saturday Jan 20, with an onstage interview with Moore and clips from her films. Guests already confirmed include Lyle Lovett and Wallace Shawn.Previous recipients of the award includ
  • Kinepolis set to sell stake in CinemaxX

    Belgian multiplex operator Kinepolis has announced that it plans to give up its 25% stake in CinemaxX, after the German exhibitor issued a profit warning to shareholders at the end of last week.In a statement Kinepolis declared that: "the importance of this interest had been put into question for some time due to the continuously bad results CinemaxX had reported", and indicated that its stake will be sold at a later point when the share price has recovered.During trading on Dec
  • Kinowelt magazine launch upset by injunction

    European film magazine Cinema has taken out an injunction to prevent German mini-studio Kinowelt distributing its new monthly publication,, with a free DVD.The print and online title was launched with a giveaway of Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker, which Cinema claimed was anti-competitive. The injunction has also prevented the next issue of the magazine from carrying a free DVD of Halloween said in a sta
  • Loews Cineplex debt given junk status

    Loews Cineplex has seen its debt ratings downgraded to low junk status by US ratings agency Moody's Investor Service. The ailing exhibitor operates more than 2,900 screens in almost 400 theatres in North America and Europe. While a negative report was expected - Loews Cineplex has warned that it may default on bondholder interest payments falling due in February 2001 - it highlights the dire state of North American exhibition, particularly the company's Canadian circuit. The rep
  • Loews Cineplex gets brief credit extension

    Struggling exhibitor Loews Cineplex has extended its credit agreement with the syndicate of principal creditors, from December 8 through January 26, 2001. The extension allows the company meet its anticipated obligations. However, Loews Cineplex had to agree to provide additional collateral. In a statement, the company said it will continue discussions with lenders and equity holders to address its cash needs beyond January. "There can, of course, be no assurance that the Compan
  • Miracle scores at Copenhagen children's fest

    Danish box office hit Miracle, directed by newcomer Natasha Arthy, was the winner of the BUSTER Grand Prix at the first BUSTER - Copenhagen International Children's Film Festival (November 27 - December 2).The award was voted for by a jury comprising Danish director Svend Johansen, Dutch distributor Dick de Jonge and Canada's Jane Schoettle from the Toronto Children's Film Festival. Meanwhile, the children's jury gave the Nordisk Film Foundation's "Best BUSTER Film 2000"
  • Norsk Film library sale opposed by public bodies

    Two Norwegian state-owned institutions, broadcaster NRK and the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI), are opposing the government's plans to sell the back catalogue of state-owned production outfit Norsk Film to the commercial sector.The Norwegian government announced in October that it was parting ways with Norsk Film, which has suffered a string of box office and critical disappointments over the last five years (ScreenDaily, October 9). Denmark's Nordisk Film is bidding to acquire
  • NTT, Motion Pro start downloading films to PCs

    Japan's NTT Satellite Communications, together with film distributor Motion Pro, has started the first service in Japan for downloading films to home PCs. Launched on December 1, the service charges viewers Y300 ($2.73) per download. The partners transmit films via the Sky PerfecTV communications satellite platform. Viewers receive them using a Sky PerfecTV antenna and tuner and download them to their PCs using a dedicated connection line and device. They can download a 90-minute to 12
  • OFT launches new probe into BSkyB

    BSkyB, the UK's largest pay-TV broadcaster, faces a competition inquiry launched this week by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).The probe, expected to take six months, is to focus on BSkyB's supply of wholesale pay-TV to its rivals - known as bundling. If found guilty, the broadcaster could be fined up to 10% of turnover backdated to March and face compensation claims for economic loss from rivals such as ONdigital, the digital terrestrial service of Carlton Communications and Granada M
  • Oslo Cinemas unveils multiplex plans

    Norway's largest exhibitor Oslo Cinemas, which is soon to be opened up to private investors, is planning to build a 10 to 20 screen multiplex in the centre of Oslo, to be ready in 2005.The company is also looking for sites to build a 4-screen cinema in the eastern area of Grunerlokka, Oslo's equivalent to London's Soho. The plans have yet to be approved by either the Oslo City Council, which owns Oslo Cinemas, or the Norwegian government.The Council decided to sell a 49% stake i
  • Oz post sector to apply for infrastructure funding

    Australia's post-production industry is applying for some of the $22m (A$40m) put aside by the federal government for the development of an advanced communications infrastructure. The sector hopes to improve performance by securing increased broadband access at better prices.Consultants Malcolm Long and Associates are preparing the submission, due on December 12, under instructions from the newly formed FIBRE Pty Ltd (Film Industry Broadband Resources Enterprise). The new company grew
  • Pacifica buys Potsdamer Platz for Tony Scott

    Pacifica, the IMF-backed, Hollywood-based subsidiary of Intermedia, has bought screen rights to writer/director Buddy Giovinazzo's manuscript Potsdamer Platz for Tony and Ridley Scott's production outfit Scott Free.Tony Scott will direct and co-produce with Catalaine Knell who brought the project to Scott Free. The story follows the exploits of two foot-soldiers of a New Jersey crime syndicate hell-bent on expanding its horizons internationally. Travelling to Germany, the two e
  • Portman, REP commit to Australian trio

    UK-based sales agent Portman Entertainment and Australia's REP Film Distribution have boarded three low-budget features to be shot in Queensland with Chris Brown and Chris Fitchett producing. State government agency, the Pacific Film and Television Commission (PFTC), has provided development funding and will be a significant equity investor.The first into production will be Blurred, to be directed by Evan Clarry from a script by Stephen Davis and Keir Shorey. Now that he
  • Puckoon comedy hit by Equity dispute

    Puckoon, a black comedy boasting a cast led by Richard Attenborough, faces calls from UK actors union Equity for its public sector backers to drop out because of a dispute over cast contracts.In a statement, Equity said it will demand that public film bodies, the Northern Ireland Film Commission and the Northern Ireland Arts Council, divorce themselves from the production because actors are not on formal equity contracts. Although not contractual, the commission's code of practi
  • Quills named best film by National Board of Review

    Philip Kaufman's Quills was named Best Film of 2000 by the National Board Of Review Of Motion Pictures, kicking off an unpredictable awards season with its first surprise. The Marquis de Sade drama written by Doug Wright from his own play received mixed reviews from critics but has been performing impressively in its first two weekends of limited release through Fox Searchlight Pictures. The film was co-financed by Searchlight and Germany's Hollywood Partners.Steven Soder
  • Rienstra quits Dutch Film Fund after seven years

    Dutch Film Fund director Ryclef Rienstra is resigning after seven years in the post to head up a non-profit fund, the Van den Ende Foundation, launched by retired Endemol co-founder Joop van den Ende.The foundation aims to support theatre, music, multimedia and other projects which for one reason or another have fallen off the Dutch subsidy radar. Rienstra takes up the new position on February 1, 2001.Rienstra denied press reports that the fund had a budget of hundreds of millio
  • Russian media baron Gusinsky arrested in Spain

    Vladimir Gusinsky, head of Russian media empire Media Most, was taken into police custody in Spain late Monday night, just a few weeks after the Russian authorities placed him on an international wanted list in connection with fraud charges.Gusinsky, who was picked up in the southern beach resort of Sotogrande, near Cadiz, is being detained pending a Spanish National Court decision on whether to extradite him. He has been residing in Spain since July, when he left Moscow after a set of
  • Sea That Thinks takes top prize at Dutch doc fest

    Dutch film-maker Gert de Graaf picked up the main prize at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (Nov 21-29), for The Sea That Thinks. The film is the dramatised tale of a screenwriter trying to unravel his own plot. The Special Jury Award went to David Shapiro and Laurie Gwen Shapiro for Keep The River On Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale. Montheith McCollum's Hybrid took the FIPRESCI award, while the Audience Award went to Dutch documentary Dei
  • Snapper options McNally's Perfect Ganesh

    New York-based production outfit Snapper Films has acquired the film rights to Terrence McNally's award-winning play A Perfect Ganesh.Headed by director-turned producer Juha Wuolijoki, Snapper hopes to get the film into production in the early autumn, 2001, and is currently putting together the financing. Snapper last year produced Tony Bui's Harvey Keitel-starring Three Seasons through a partnership with Open City Films and Down To You, a teen romance starring Fre
  • Sundance Premieres, World Cinema complete line-up

    The Sundance Film Festival followed the announcement yesterday of its dramatic and documentary competition and American Spectrum sections with the high-profile Premiere and World Cinema sections today, as well as Frontier and Midnight Screenings.Opening the festival on Jan 18 is My First Mister, the feature directorial debut of award-winning actress Christine Lahti and featuring Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski. Among the other premieres are the eagerly awaited first fil
  • The Family Man

    Dir: Brett Ratner. US. 2000. 120 mins. Prod cos: Beacon, Universal Pictures. Domestic dist: Universal Pictures. Exec prods: Armyan Bernstein, Thomas A Bliss, Andrew Z Davis. Prods: Marc Abraham, Zvi Howard Rosenman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche. Scr: David Diamond, David Weissman. DoP: Dante Spinotti. Prod des: Kristi Zea. Ed: Mark Helfrich. Music: Danny Elfman. Main cast: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven. It's A Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Car
  • The Grinch fends off newcomers in fourth weekend

    The Grinch was number one at the North American box office for the fourth consecutive weekend, bringing Universal Pictures' family smash to a grand total of $195.5m. With its $18.5m take, the Jim Carrey-starrer outclassed three new entries - Columbia's Vertical Limit which came in second with $16m, Warner Bros' Proof Of Life which came in at three with $10.4m and New Line pickup Dungeons And Dragons: The Movie which took $7m for the number five slot.Box offi
  • The Grinch, Angels thrive at UK box office

    In a repeat of recent events at the US box office, Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas held on to pole position in the UK this weekend, seeing off the opening of Buena Vista International's 102 Dalmatians which came in at number three. Both first and second places remained unchanged with Columbia TriStar's Charlie's Angels also continuing to pull in the crowds in its third week on release.The Grinch saw takings drop off just 17% as it grossed $3,692,419
  • Thomson acquires Technicolor as part of alliance

    UK media concern Carlton Communications has sold its film and video processing arm Technicolor to French consumer electronics group Thomson Multimedia for just over $2bn.The two companies have struck an additional alliance covering digital and interactive TV. Carlton is to invest $15m in TAK, Thomson and Microsoft's interactive TV joint venture. The cash-and-share deal for Technicolor sees Carlton taking a 5.5% stake in Thomson Multimedia. Thomson will pay $1.35bn in cash.
  • UK film censor could lose powers to new super body

    A UK communications super watchdog unveiled on Tuesday could take over some of the activities of film certification body the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) as part of far-reaching regulatory changes.Under one scenario proposed by the government, the new OFCOM regulatory body could take over video classification, currently under the BBFC's auspices. Alternative proposals include the BBFC as a whole becoming an agent of OFCOM or - the BBFC's preferred scenario - that it is l
  • Ukrainian film industry to receive boost from AVIC

    A group of Ukrainian film professionals have launched a privately funded, non-profit organisation, called AVIC (Audiovisual Information Centre), to act as a link between local film-makers and the international industry.Still smarting from the 1998 rouble crisis, which badly affected the local hryvnia currency, the ailing Ukrainian film industry is far removed from the glory days of the Soviet-run Dovzhenko studio. However, AVIC plans to raise its profile by supplying information about
  • Univision buys USA Broadcasting for $1.1bn

    Leading US Hispanic broadcaster Univision Communications has bought USA Broadcasting, the television station group of USA Networks, for $1.1 billion in cash. The Spanish-language network has also assumed USA Broadcasting's liability of $100 million, according to USA Networks spokesperson, Adrienne Becker. USA Networks had acquired USA Broadcasting's 13 full power stations for $250 million when it bought Silver King Communications in 1995.According to Barry Diller, Chairman and CEO of
  • UPC's Chello abandons merger with Excite

    Broadband internet supplier Chello, owned by Dutch cable giant UPC, has called off its plans to merge with the international arm of similar US group Excite@Home.The move raises questions about future funding for Chello, which had been scheduled to float before UPC decided on the merger with Excite instead. UPC is now expected to combine Chello with its interactive TV subsidiary, UPC Media.UPC chairman and CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement: "This has been a complex transacti
  • Vivendi Universal down on first day of trading

    Arbitrageurs wasted little time in getting to grips with the shares of the new Vivendi Universal group and the markedly downsized Canal Plus outfit. The merger may only have been waved through on Friday evening, when Canal Plus shareholders gave their 96.6% approval, but trading began almost immediately in the new stock. Vivendi Universal shares, which replaced those of Vivendi, closed down 1.6% at Euros74.0 at the end of their first day. Canal Plus shares, which were rebased as part o
  • Vivendi Universal may divert Canal films to UIP

    Vivendi Universal appears to be seriously considering channelling some StudioCanal-backed films though UIP, the international distribution venture it co-owns with Paramount Pictures.The title-by-title arrangement could extend to both European and US films bankrolled by Vivendi Universal's StudioCanal. UIP could even release certain films in markets where StudioCanal already has distribution partners, such as Pathe in the UK, Tobis in Germany and Bac in France.The move is underst
  • Vivendi, Seagram shareholders rubberstamp merger

    A cheering crowd of 10,000 Vivendi shareholders, gathered beneath the pyramid at the Louvre museum in Paris, approved the company's three-way merger with Universal Studios owner Seagram and Canal Plus by a massive 95%. Seagram's shareholders had previously voted the merger by a 90.4% majority. Canal Plus' shareholders are meeting on Friday morning but are highly unlikely to reject the deal given that Vivendi already owns a 49% stake in the French pay-TV giant.The merger, which v
  • Warner strikes pact with Brazil's Conspiracao

    Warner Bros is stepping up distribution of Brazilian product, by signing a four-picture package deal with local outfit Conspiracao, which co-produced Brazil's Foreign-language Oscar entry, Me, You, Them (Eu, Tu, Eles).The studio is investing $4.1m (Real8m) over the next three years in four Conspiracao features: Flavio Tambellini's drama Bufo & Spallanzani; Jose Henrique Fonseca's romantic drama O Homem Do Ano; Claudio Torres' comedy Redentor; and Casseta
  • Web deals for Mary Pickford, early Russian cinema

    article27, a worldwide online entertainment syndicator, has acquired global streaming rights to five silent feature films starring Mary Pickford and North American streaming rights to a group of early Russian films from New York-based Milestone Film & Video. The Pickford films are Amarillo Of Clothes-Line Alley, Daddy Long-Legs, My Best Girl, Stella Maris and Tess Of The Storm Country. The Russian films in the deal are from Milestone's Before The Revo
  • Worldwide marketing chief Bob Levin quits Sony

    Robert Levin, the president of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures Entertainment, has resigned his post and will leave the company immediately. He joined the studio in 1996 and was responsible for all worldwide marketing activities for the company's theatrical releases and its consumer products organisation."I am quite proud of what I accomplished during my four years at Sony Pictures," said Levin in a statement. "It is now time, however, to move on to the next chapter of my life. T
  • Wowow first-half profits plunge by 73%

    Japanese satellite and cable broadcaster Wowow reported a 73% decrease in profit to $12m (Y1.32bn) in the first half of 2000, on turnover down 6.5% to $273m (Y30.02bn). Operating profit fell 79% to $9m (Y988m).Wowow officials attributed the disappointing results to slow growth in subscriptions and the high costs of launching a new service on digital broadcast satellite, including plant and equipment investment and advertising and promotional costs. For the 2000 financial year, w