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12 May 2002

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  • Abraham returns with Strike, strikes Universal deal

    Following his departure from Beacon Communications recently, producer Marc Abraham has started a new production outfit called Strike Entertainment alongside his former Beacon COO Thomas Bliss and former Beacon senior vice president of development Eric Newman. The three are partners in the new company which has struck a four-year, first-look deal with Universal Pictures.Strike will co-finance, develop and produce films with Universal, while housing its own in-house development, producti
  • Ali G gets high in Netherlands chart

    UK hit Ali G IndaHouse debuted outside its home territory last weekend, storming straight to the top of The Netherlands' chart.Distributor UIP launched the comedy, which is the feature debut for Sacha Baron Cohen's alter ego, in The Netherlands on May 2 and recorded an impressive four day debut of $380,288 (Euro 415,275). Ali G scored the highest opening in the territory since Ocean's Eleven, which opened on January 10 to take a four-day weekend of $729,448 (Euro 7
  • Ambiel resigns from Expand Images

    Dominique Ambiel, board chairman of Vivendi Universal's French television production division Expand Images, has resigned. His departure, over differences in the management of the company, was followed by board member Xavier Gouyou-Beauchamps.StudioCanal's CEO Richard Lenormand will announce a replacement . Ambiel, a former advisor to right-wing culture minister Francois Leotard in the late eighties, was a founding member of the Expand group, which was folded into Canal Plus' TV produc
  • Anouk Aimee to head Cannes' France Culture Prize jury

    French actress Anouk Aimée, who starred in Claude Lelouch's 1966 Acacdemy Award-winner A Man And A Woman, will chair the jury of the France Culture prize, to be awarded during the Cannes film festival.The prize, which crowns both a French and a foreign 'film-maker of the year' is to be announced on the day before the closing ceremony. French film-makers likely to be in the running for the prize include Jacques Audiard (Sur Mes Levres), Laurent Cantet (L'Emp
  • Asian films are focus of two out of three new Oz FIPRESCI awards

    Australia's three major east coast festivals - Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne - will each present a prize under the FIPRESCI banner from this year. The Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) instigated the move and has begun recruiting the local component of the three three-person international juries.The Melbourne International Film Festival's (July 23-August 11) FIPRESCI jury will award the prize to an Asian filmmaker with a first- second- or third film. A citation for an Australian
  • Australian Rules

    Dir: Paul Goldman. Australia. 2002. 98mins.The Australian success of Phillip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence has opened distribution doors previously locked to depictions of Aboriginal issues and racial conflict. In its wake comes Australian Rules, a biting reminder of the distance that still exists between white and indigenous communities in modern Australia. Yet it still possesses enough genuine humour and sporting excitement to attract bigger than average audience
  • Boy doesn't give in to Panic at UK box office

    UIP continued to reign at the UK box office over the weekend with About A Boy dropping off just 28% from its opening weekend. With three-day figures of $3.3m (£2.2m) from 448 sites, the Hugh Grant title also scored the highest site average of any film on release this week, $7,329. About A Boy's ten-day total stands at $11.2mThe comedy saw off strong competition for the top spot from Columbia TriStar's Panic Room. Starring Jodie Foster and directed by Seven
  • Canada's Remstar signs output deal with Chesler/Perlmutter

    Montreal-based distributor Remstar has signed a two-year multi-picture output deal with Toronto-based Chesler/Perlmutter, the first such deal the production company has secured in three years. The two-year pact, which includes development funds, will give Remstar first look for Canadian distribution of upcoming titles including the recently completed Tempo In Paris, starring Melanie Griffith, Rachael Leigh Cook and David LaHaye, slated for Autumn delivery. The next three
  • Cannes adds two heavyweights to special screening programme

    The Cannes festival filled out its special, out-of competition screenings programme with two heavyweight additions, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones and Brian De Palma's Cannes-set thriller Femme Fatale.George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones will be shown twice in the Salle Bunuel on the second day of the festival, Thursday 16 May, simultaneous with its US release.Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale will in turn receive a mi
  • Cannes adds two heavyweights to special screening programme

    The Cannes festival filled out its special, out-of competition screenings programme with two heavyweight additions, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones and Brian De Palma's Cannes-set thriller Femme Fatale.George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones will be shown twice in the Salle Bunuel on the second day of the festival, Thursday 16 May, simultaneous with its US release.Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale will in turn receive a mi
  • Cannes develops digital film screenings

    There is more to digital cinema than just Star Wars: Episode II at Cannes this year, with the festival planning a multitude of digital screenings. The operation will kick off with Attack Of The Clones, which will be the first film ever to be screened digitally in the Grande Theatre Lumiere at the festival. But that will be followed by some six other pictures in official selection. "We are not claiming that digital film in its current format is the only future of cinema, r
  • Cannes develops digital film screenings

    There is more to digital cinema than just Star Wars: Episode II at Cannes this year, with the festival planning a multitude of digital screenings. The operation will kick off with Attack Of The Clones, which will be the first film ever to be screened digitally in the Grande Theatre Lumiere at the festival. But that will be followed by some six other pictures in official selection. 'We are not claiming that digital film in its current format is the only future of cinema, r
  • Cinemavault acquires worldwide rights to hit Quebecois thriller Savage Messiah

    Toronto-based Cinemavault Releasing has acquired worldwide rights outside Canada to Quebecois psychological thriller Savage Messiah which opened in Quebec on April 26 through Christal Films and looks set to gross over $1m in its first month.The film stars Polly Walker and Luc Picard and is the directorial debut of Mario Azzopardi, whose TV credits include episodes of Total Recall 2070, Stargate SG-1, F/X: The Series, Robocop, The Outer Limits, Highlander and Poltergeis
  • Columbia sets Spider-Man 2 for May 7,2004

    One day after it scored a breathtaking $114.8m opening weekend with Spider-Man in North America, Columbia Pictures has announced that Spider-Man 2 is already dated for release on May 7, 2004. The film will go into production early next year. While the storyline will remain a closely guarded secret, the picture will reunite director Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, who had previously committed to a sequel. The snagging of the early
  • Controversial French film is banned four weeks after release

    Four weeks after its theatrical release, Australia's Classification Review Board has withdrawn Baise-Moi's R18+ certificate, making it illegal to screen the film in the country.The four-member review board unanimously overturned the original R18+ classification given to the French film, because it contains elements beyond those set out in the legislative guidelines. The combination of sexual violence, graphic sex scenes, and scenes that demean both women and men, were all taken
  • De Palma's Femme Fatale seduces French audiences

    Brian de Palma's latest feature, the French-US co-production Femme Fatale, recorded a healthy start on its world debut in France. The thriller, which has secured an eleventh-hour out-of-competition Cannes screening on May 25, sold 220,000 tickets (equivalent to $1.1m) in its opening week to May 7.The film, which takes place in Cannes during the festival, jumped out of the starting blocks in France, with an opening day tally of 69,330 tickets sold ($332,784) from its 304 screens
  • Dream Work takes top prize at Oberhausen shorts fest

    Austrian filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky's visual poem Dream Work won the Grand Prize at this year's Oberhausen International Short Film Festival (May 2-7)The jury awarded two other prizes to Stephane Elmadjian's Je M'Appelle and Luciano Larobina's documentary Los Zapatos De Zapata, while the Arte Prize for European Short Film went to Laura Waddington's Cargo and the Werkleitz Award for 'outstanding artistic deployment of digital media' to the Italian directori
  • EU rules sales tax to be added to foreign online products

    The European Union (EU) today (Tuesday, May 7) approved rules that will require non-European firms to apply a sales tax (VAT) to films, games and software that are sold over the internet into the EU.The new rules, which take effect from July next year, are intended to put foreign firms on the same footing as European companies which sell online-delivered products within the EU. The rules extend to pay-per-view and subscription services. European firms had been seen by the EU as at a co
  • European Commission challenges French advertising laws

    France's film marketing and distribution sector could be in for a radical shake-up with a new aspect of the country's cultural exception coming under attack from the European Union (EU).The European Commission, the EU's executive wing, last week asked the French government to justify its laws on television advertising, which currently prevent retailers and film distributors from buying TV airtime. If the Commission does not get a satisfactory reply within two months it may ask F
  • Femme Fatale

    Dir: Brian De Palma. Fr-US 2002. 110mins. With its chances and coincidences, doubles, dream sequences and alternative endings, Femme Fatale is an enigmatic European art-movie lightly disguised as a Hollywood genre thriller. There is certainly enough eye-popping sex and spectacle to steer it to decent box-office returns. In France it opened on a public holiday to 69,330 admissions ($332,784) from 304 screens to top the box office. But Brian De Palma's formal brilliance is har
  • First Australian pick-up for France's Flach Pyramide

    French sales house Flach Pyramide International has made its first major investment in Australian filmmaking, taking international rights to writer/ director Kathryn Millard's debut feature Travelling Light Millard's acclaimed one-hour film Parklands - Cate Blanchett's big screen debut - sufficiently impressed the sales agency, which is known for its interest in auteur directors and arthouse projects. Pia Mirand
  • Foreign films get Hollywood on the re-make

    When Sony Picture’s Mr. Deeds opens in North America next month its prospects will depend largely on the appeal of its star Adam Sandler, as opposed to the fact that it’s a remake of Frank Capra’s 1936 comedy Mr. Deeds Goes To Town.Meanwhile, the development department at Sony Pictures, which owns the Columbia library, will continue sifting for treasure - much as Universal’s development department blew the dust off a 1934 Boris Karlov title about archaeologists in Egy
  • Fortissimo takes world rights for Bollywood Hollywood

    Fortissimo Film Sales, the Amsterdam and Hong Kong-based sales house, has picked up worldwide rights to Indian director Deepa Mehta's new picture Bollywood Hollywood. The film is described as a "musical romantic comedy, which crosses between the vibrant melodrama of Bollywood and the schematic mainstream cinema of Hollywood." The Toronto-set story is that of a Canadian-Indian dotcom millionaire who hires an escort girl to masquerade as his fiancee, only for the unlikely pair to
  • German cinemas report boost in box office, drop in admissions

    Box office receipts at German cinemas increased 6.3% year-on-year to Euros 271.4m in the first quarter of 2002 - although admissions slipped by 2.2% (1m) to 45.2m, according to official figures released by the German Federal Film Board (FFA).The FFA explained that the discrepancy between revenues and admissions was probably caused by the success of (amongst others) The Lord Of The Rings which had incurred a supplement to the normal entrance charge because of its longer running
  • Germany's KirchPayTV files for insolvency

    The crisis-ridden KirchGroup's pay TV unit KirchPayTV has been forced to file for insolvency a month after the KirchMedia holding company filed for insolvency and self-administration.The pay-TV unit and several of its subsidiaries opened insolvency proceedings in a Munich court today (Wednesday May 8). Kirch Marketing Services was expected to follow suit at a Hamburg court later in the day.Georg Kofler, CEO of the Premiere pay-TV platform, stressed, "the broadcasting operation
  • Goodsill joins Kamp at Odyssey Entertainment

    Former Icon Entertainment International chief Ralph Kamp has been joined by Louise Goodsill at the head of newly-launched sales operation Odyssey Entertainment.Goodsill is president and chief operating officer, while Kamp is chairman and chief executive. Odyssey, which formally launches at Cannes, has also assembled three key executives: head of production Joshua Andrews; head of development Sarah Arnott; and head of legal & business affairs Rachel Woodeson.Alongside TV properti
  • Government to close one of Portugal's national TV stations

    Portugal's public broadcaster looks set to get cut in half if the government follows through on a promise to close down one of its two nationwide channels. The broadcaster has amassed a multimillion dollar debt which in recent months led to accusations in the local film and TV industry of defaults on payment for content. Drastic measures were expected following the country's March 17 general elections which brought the centre-right Social Democrat party to power. According to lo
  • Graham Chapman life story to be filmed by HippoFilms

    LA-based independent production outfit Hippofilms has optioned rights to the life story of late British writer/actor Graham Chapman, a founder member of Monty Python. David Eric Brenner of Hippofilms is to direct and co-script the film.The film will address Chapman's early years at Cambridge and medical school, his struggles with alcohol, the Monty Python years, his ground-breaking stance on homosexuality and his exploits with John Cleese, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr amon
  • Hamilton and Syrmis greenlight Arclight

    After spending weeks meeting with practically every producer in the country, Gary Hamilton and Victor Syrmis have at last announced what must be the worst kept secret in the Australian film industry: the pair are establishing a new Sydney-based sales agency and production company called Arclight Films. This means that at Cannes, Hamilton will go head to head with his old boss, Beyond International managing director Mikael Borglund, who has yet to name a new general m
  • Helkon severs TV ties with Buena Vista International

    The German outpost of Buena Vista International (BVI) and local distributor Helkon have formally ended BVI Television's representation of Helkon titles in German speaking territories.In fact , at the end of last year, Helkon had unilaterally announced that the arrangement with BVI was over, as the US major failed to place any of Helkon's releases through its output deals with RTL (free-TV) or Premiere World (pay -TV) during the two and a half years of the agreement's existence.F
  • Hong Kong's Celestial Pictures builds team for vertical integration

    Fledgling Hong Kong studio Celestial Pictures has appointed industry veteran Gordon Cheung as executive vice president of distribution.Cheung was formerly executive vice president of Hong Kong digital effects house, Centro Digital Pictures, where he was responsible for sales and distribution of the company's own productions. He also spent 10 years at Golden Harvest Entertainment as vice president, distribution, and three years in a similar role at Vestron Pictures in the US.In h
  • Ian McShane joins in with Paper, Scissors, Stone

    Ian McShane, last seen in Sexy Beast, has taken a lead role in the psychological thriller Paper, Scissors, Stone, which went into production today (May 6) in Canada. Carly Pope, Brendan Fehr, Adrian Paul, and Rena Owen had already been cast in the film about a girl whose fascination with riddles puts her in a life-threatening situation.The Canadian/New Zealand/UK co-production's NZ$6m budget makes it the biggest yet for a first-time New Zealand filmmaker. Director/
  • Igby Goes Down to open Seattle Film Festival

    After world premiering one film from United Artists last year (Ghost World), the Seattle International Film Festival will this year open with another, the world premiere of UA's tragicomedy Igby Goes Down directed by Burr Steers and starring Kieran Culkin, Bill Pullman, Susan Sarandon, Ryan Phillipe, Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet and Claire Danes.The film will open the 25-day festival on May 23; closing the event will be the world premiere of Dan Ireland's Passionada,
  • Indian film industry brings Bollywood flavour to Cannes

    Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj is heading to Cannes with a high-profile delegation of the Hindi film industry, including Yash Chopra, Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Subhash Ghai, Ramesh Sharma, Uma Gajapati Raju, Ronnie Screwvala and Amit Khanna. With the assistance of Government funding, the Indian pavilion will be double the size of last year's, said Swaraj, - with the objective of promoting the Indian film industry's products and services abroad, its attractio
  • Indian megastar Khan signs with Endeavor in the US

    Indian movie megastar Aamir Khan, who starred in and produced Oscar nominated Bollywood epic Lagaan, has signed with LA talent agency Endeavor for all areas of representation in the US.Khan, who has starred in more than 25 films, made his film debut in 1988 in Qayamat Se Qayamet Tak. His other recent credits include Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Mela (2000), Sarfarosh (1999) and Mann (1999). 'We're excited to be working with Aamir Khan,' say th
  • Intermedia acquires Southpaw Media's Nailed Right In

    Intermedia has is in the process of acquiring international distribution rights to Nailed Right In, a coming of age drama to be directed by Griffin Dunne (Addicted To Love, Practical Magic) and to star Hayden Christensen and Leelee Sobieski. The film is written by Sopranos writer Terence Winter and is being produced by Richard B Lewis of Southpaw Media, A Beautiful Mind screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and Christensen's brother and producing partner Tove Christen
  • Intermedia co-founders step down from board of directors

    Internationalmedia (IM) co-founders Guy East and Nigel Sinclair have stepped down from the board of directors and entered into a three-year producing deal with the company. At the same time, Graham King, President and CEO of the IM Group subsidiary IEG, will join the executive board.The move comes just two weeks after IM announced that it planned to double revenues and increase profits this year (Screendaily, April 26) and is also in line with plans which were part of the origin
  • International buyers are hot for Son Of The Bride

    Oscar nominated Argentine film Son Of The Bride (El Hijo De La Novia), currently on limited release in the US via Sony Pictures Classics (SPC), has already been sold to a slew of territories prior to its world market premiere at Cannes. Neil Friedman's LA-based Menemsha Entertainment which acquired international rights to the comedy last November will introduce the film to buyers at Cannes. The film has currently earned $320,000 out of 12 prints in Los Angeles and New York alone
  • Jack Matthews named CEO at Premium Movie Partnership

    Jack Matthews has been named new chief executive at the Premium Movie Partnership (PMP), owner and operator of movie channel Showtime, Australia's most popular pay-TV channel and the biggest supporter of Australian features in the sector. The role means Matthews represents joint owners 20th Century Fox, Columbia TriStar, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Liberty Media.The American-born former chief executive of New Zealand telecommunications/ entertainment company Telstr
  • Jannike Ahlund appointed new director of Sweden's Goteborg Film Festival

    Jannike Ahlund has been appointed director of Sweden's Goteborg Film Festival, the annual focus of the Nordic film industry which celebrated its 25th anniversary in January.She replaces Gunnar Bergdahl, who stepped down earlier this year after 15 years with the festival. Ahlund has a 20-year association with the festival, but has most recently worked as a freelance journalist for many of Sweden's leading newspapers, as well as editing the film magazine Chaplin While her a
  • Japan's Kadokawa Shoten, Toshiba team to provide digital content

    Kadokawa Shoten Publishing, whose media empire includes film producer and distributor Asmik Ace, has linked with electronics maker Toshiba to provide film and other contents for digital broadcasts. As part of the tie-up, Toshiba bought a 1% stake (270,000 shares) in Kadokawa in March, with the intention of increasing it to 3% in the future. Kadokawa also owns 250,000 shares of Toshiba stock, for a 0.01% stake. The partners will begin offering an interactive pay service in July
  • Jon Fitzgerald named executive director at Santa Barbara Film Festival

    Jon Fitzgerald has been named executive director of The Santa Barbara International Film Festival after stints as director of both the Slamdance and AFI Los Angeles International film festivals.Fitzgerald will be working closely with incoming board president Arnold Kossoy. His duties include artistic direction, programming, development, marketing and overall festival management.He is founder of the independent production company Marine Street Films and prior to that launched was
  • Justice to head Invicta co-production division

    Independent producer Matthew Justice is to become full-time head of Invicta Filmworks, the co-production offshoot of UK finance firm Invicta Capital. Justice, whose producing credits include The Last Minute, Blade and Death Machine, has been consulting for Invicta since October last year. "Aside from my work on co-productions through Invicta Filmworks there will be an emphasis on developing the business beyond sale and leaseback. And that I find very exciting," sai
  • Lakeshore acquires international on Just A Kiss

    Lakeshore International, the sales arm of Tom Rosenberg's Lakeshore Entertainment, has picked up international rights to Fisher Stevens' romantic comedy Just A Kiss which will be released in North America by Paramount Classics in September 2002. Starring Taye Diggs, Ron Eldard, Kyra Sedgwick, Marley Shelton and Marisa Tomei, Just A Kiss is an ensemble piece written by Patrick Breen about six New Yorkers and their struggles with relationships, commitment and fidelity. Stev
  • Lions Gate buys North American rights to Alibi's The Hard Word

    Lions Gate Films has bought all North American rights to The Hard Word, the Australian crime drama produced by Al Clark and executive produced and sold by UK-based Alibi Films. Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths star in the film which will be released in Australia by Roadshow Film Distributors on May 30.The movie, written and directed by Scott Roberts, follows the exploits of three bank-robbing brothers as they plot the biggest and final job of their careers. Damien Richardson and
  • Lum, Cox team for Australian Hopscotch

    The reason behind Troy Lum's sudden departure from Dendy Films last week has become clear: he is starting his own Australian distribution and marketing company in partnership with veteran distributor Frank Cox. Cox will wind down his existing entity, NewVision, and transfer management of its library of 150 films to newly-formed Hopscotch. No details are available on the financial structure, but Melbourne-based Cox will have put up most of the money for the privilege of stepping back fr
  • Magnolia acquires Interview With The Assassin

    Eamonn Bowles' Magnolia Pictures has acquired all North American rights to Interview With The Assassin, the directorial debut of Neil Burger about a man who alleges that he is the second gunman in the shooting of JFK.The film will have its world premiere at the 1st annual Tribeca Film Festival which runs May 8-12 and is scheduled for domestic release in the autumn. Starring Raymond J Barry, the movie follows an out-of-work TV cameraman who stumbles upon the assassin in question
  • Malaga festival's best film award-winner pulled from screenings

    The Other Side Of The Bed and Julio Wallovits' and Roger Gual's low-budget debut feature Smoking Room shared the top awards at the fifth annual Spanish Film Festival of Malaga (April 26-May 4). Inexplicably, however, co-producer Telecinco pulled multiple-award winner The Other Side Of The Bed from the screenings, leaving interested buyers frustrated. Musical comedy Bed (El Otro Lado De La Cama,) directed by Emilio Martinez Lazaro, won best film
  • Marcus Nispel hired to direct Texas Chainsaw Massacre

    Famed German music video and commercials director Marcus Nispel has signed to direct the reconceptualisation of Tobe Hooper's cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which is set to begin shooting in Austin, Texas, this July.The film is being produced by Michael Bay's lower budget production outfit Platinum Dunes and Ted Field and Scott Kroopf's Radar Pictures with New Line Cinema handling domestic rights and Good Machine International aka Focus International handling internati
  • Market share imbalances revealed across pan-Asian cinema industry

    A new report focusing on exhibition and distribution over the last five years has revealed some surprising contradictions in the make-up of the 18 cinema markets analysed across Asia, the Pacific Rim, Middle East and Africa.The research, by media publication, Screen Digest, reports that while total cinema admissions for the 18 countries generated $3.8bn in 2000 - this was down in dollar terms on the previous year. However, for many countries, box office revenue was up, at least in thei
  • Max Film wraps Rose's debut Menopause

    Canadian producers Roger Frappier's and Luc Vandal's Max Film is close to wrapping production On Comment Ma Mere Accoucha De Moi Durant Sa Menopause (which translates roughly as "how my mother gave birth to me during menopause"). The debut film by director/screenwriter Sebastian Rose, the comedy tells the story of a feckless 30-year-old who is on the verge of cutting the apron strings when there is a surprise addition to the family. Rose was previously assistant to direct
  • Menemsha, SPC commit to Hitler's Secretary

    Neil Friedman's LA-based Menemsha Entertainment has acquired international rights to the critically acclaimed documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary and will introduce the film to buyers at Cannes. Sony Pictures Classics had earlier acquired rights in the English-speaking world and Mexico to the film, which debuted in Panorama at the Berlin Film Festival.Produced by Austria's Dor Film, Blind Spot is an on-camera interview with 81 year-old Traudl Junge ' the first she
  • New director to give newer look to Venice Film Festival

    Venice director Moritz de Hadeln has introduced a raft of new elements to the film festival, and while keeping the double competition established last year by Alberto Barbera, he will ensure that this time the differences between the two sections are more clearly defined.In line with the simplicity advocated at Cannes this year for its competition and Un Certain Regard sections, Venice (Aug 29-Sep 8) will showcase established talent in its main Venice 59 competition, while dedicating
  • New UK media laws presented to parliament

    Foreign media groups like News Corp and AOL Time Warner could soon own UK terrestrial television stations, thanks to new legislative proposals tabled by the British government on Tuesday.The radical proposals would lift a ban on non-European ownership of terrestrial TV, clearing the way for foreign media groups to buy commercial broadcasters ITV and Channel 5.However, large newspaper groups like Murdoch's News Corp will not be permitted to buy a stake of more than 20% in ITV, th
  • New-look Good Machine continues to focus on Almodovars' El Deseo

    Good Machine International (GMI), newly renamed Focus International, will handle worldwide sales on the forthcoming My Life Without Me, produced by the Almodovar brothers' Madrid-based El Deseo.The Almodovars look set to continue their ongoing relationship with a redefined Good Machine following its acquisition last week by Universal Studios. GMI handled worldwide sales outside France, the UK and Benelux on Pedro Almodovar's latest film, Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella), and
  • NZ film body pulls plug on four films at Larry Parr's Kahukura Productions

    The New Zealand Film Commission's (NZFC) Alan Sorrell has confirmed that it was "reluctantly concluded" today that the government agency is unable to find a way to complete four films caught in a financial melt-down at producer Larry Parr's Kahukura Productions. The films include director Grant Lahood's Kombi Nation, Adam Larkin's Aidiko Insane and Stuart McKenzie's For Good. All are being made under a one-off low-budget feature scheme which is fully finance
  • Paramount takes territories on Crusader's Sahara

    Paramount Pictures has acquired rights in UK, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand to Crusader Entertainment's action-adventure Sahara which is set to start shooting on Oct 28. Paramount already had North American rights to the film through a previous arrangement with Crusader. Patrick Wachsberger's Summit Entertainment is selling remaining territories on the film at Cannes.Rob Bowman, director of The X-Files: The Movie and Disney/Spyglass Entertainment's upcoming R
  • Portugal's Gaia Film Festival reveals inaugural competition line-up

    The newly launched Gaia International Film Festival of Portugal is carving a niche as the first stop for international summer releases in the Portuguese market with a high-profile line-up of 12 feature films competing in this year's first annual edition (June 14-22).Among the titles to compete for the festival's non-monetary awards are:Birthday Girl by Jez Butterworth (UK/USA)Heaven by Tom Tykwer (Germany/USA)The Man From Elysian Fields by George Hic
  • Revamped Los Angeles Film Festival unveils programme

    The Los Angeles Film Festival, which this year has moved its event to June (June 20-29), introduced competition sections, an international section, a guest director and a film-maker prize worth $50,000, has unveiled its lineup consisting of 57 features from 22 countries.The festival, formerly known as the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, is run by Independent Feature Project/West with Rich Raddon as festival director and former San Francisco Film Festival programmer Rachel Rosen
  • Roberts, Sheils to head distribution at UK's Metrodome

    Ben Roberts and Audrey Sheils will head distribution activities at the UK's Metrodome after Alan Partington left the company last month.Roberts has been promoted to director of sales and acquisitions, while Sheils becomes director of theatrical marketing. Recent pick-ups include Good Machine International's Lovely And Amazing, Lions Gate's comedy The Wash and Pandora's Donnie Darko.The company has acquired UK theatrical and video rights on two Miramax pictur
  • Salesman David Winters is back in business at Cannes

    International sales veteran David Winters is back in Cannes with a new sales outfit Alpha Beta Films International and three films to sell. Winters, one of the sales world's more colourful characters, was a child actor and played Arab, one of the Jets, in the Broadway and film musical West Side Story before becoming a producer and then head of AIP Studios which he founded with Peter Yuval and David Prior in 1987 before it went bankrupt.Winters formed Alpha Beta last year with en
  • Seattle Fest sets Audiard, Medem, Takashi, Park as emerging masters

    The Seattle International Film Festival, which takes place this year from May 23 to June 16, has named this year's four emerging masters - directors from around the world who have established themselves as potential cinematic masters - whose work will be spotlighted during the festival. They are Jacques Audiard from France, Julio Medem from Spain, Miike Takashi from Japan and Park Chan-wook from Korea.'The mandate of film festivals should not lie in merely bringing good film to audienc
  • Shoreline acquires three for Cannes led by Moving August

    LA-based producer/distributor Shoreline Entertainment has acquired three new films for this year's Cannes Film Market led by worldwide rights to Christopher Fink's Moving August and international rights to the thriller Deceived starring Judd Nelson and Louis Gossett Jr.Moving August, which marks Fink's directorial debut, stars Eddie McClintock, Sarah Wynter and Alexandra Adi and is a romantic comedy about a man who falls in love with the woman moving into his house
  • Shoreline acquires three for Cannes led by Moving August

    LA-based producer/distributor Shoreline Entertainment has acquired three new films for this year's Cannes Film Market led by worldwide rights to Christopher Fink's Moving August and international rights to the thriller Deceived starring Judd Nelson and Louis Gossett Jr.Moving August, which marks Fink's directorial debut, stars Eddie McClintock, Sarah Wynter and Alexandra Adi and is a romantic comedy about a man who falls in love with the woman moving into his house
  • Signpost partners with Hoyts to form Signpost Films Australia

    Stewart Till's Signpost Films has established its first international distribution arm, partnering with Hoyts Distribution to form Signpost Films Australia.Signpost Films Australia will control the marketing and distribution of Signpost films in Australia and New Zealand, managing and funding all marketing and P&A costs. Hoyts will provide a theatrical sales function and office space.In video, Signpost will utilise Sony/Columbia Tri Star under Hoyts' agreement. The new compan
  • Smoking Room

    Dirs: Julio Wallovits, Roger Gual. Spain. 2002. 89mins.This low-budget debut feature film seemingly came out of nowhere to quietly storm last week's Spanish Film Festival in Malaga, where it created buzz among critics, crowds and even international buyers gathered for a sidebar market. The film marks the debut of two promising new talents, co-writers and directors Julio Wallovits and Roger Gual, who walked away from Malaga with Best Script and jury prizes as well as the Best
  • Spain's Aurum picks up Lazaro's Girlfriend

    Spain's Aurum Producciones has picked up international rights to Malaga Film Festival best actress prize winner Lazaro's Girlfriend (La Novia De Lazaro) from director Fernando Merinero.Under head of international sales Mocha Aguilar, Aurum will screen Lazaro and other recent pick-ups, Miguel Albaladejo's Resentment (Rencor) and Miguel Angel Sanchez's thriller Liable To Burn (Arderas Conmigo), at Cannes.Lazaro's Claudia Rojas scooped the best actress a
  • Spanish media giants agree to merge their pay-TV operations

    Spain awoke this morning to the prospect of a dramatic revolution in its media landscape, with the announcement that industry giants Grupo Prisa and Telefonica have agreed to merge their pay-TV units. According to the terms of the deal, which must now be approved by both groups' administrative boards, as well as local and European authorities, shareholders of Telefonica-backed pay-TV operator Via Digital will cover a 23% capital amplification of Prisa media unit Sogecable, home to pay
  • Spider-Man makes history: $114m in three days annihilates all-time record

    The all-time box office opening record was obliterated over the weekend as Spider-Man from Columbia Pictures took an estimated $114m, becoming the first movie to pass the magical $100m mark in its opening weekend. It beat the previous record-holder Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone by an astonishing $24m.Naturally it is also the fastest film in history to cross the $100m mark, beating both Harry Potter and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace which to
  • Spider-man spins web of records in 17 territories

    Spider-Man's historic US opening was mirrored by some record international bows over the weekend, with $13.3m from 700 prints in 17 territories across Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Columbia's comic book adaptation, which was directed by Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire as the web-slinging superhero, scored all-time three-day openings in Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Lebanon and Jordan. Figures are based on studio estimates and will be confirmed on Monday.
  • Spider-Man swings past $200m in record time

    Displaying the kind of gravity-defying antics one would expect from Spider-Man, Columbia's smash hit held on to top spot with a weekend gross of $72m, racing past $200m on Saturday in a record nine days. This weekend's $72m haul - the highest second-weekend gross ever - is the fourth highest weekend gross of all time behind Spider-Man's $114m bow last weekend, Harry Potter's $90.3m and the $72.1m taken by The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Sam Raimi's Mar
  • Stowe takes starring role in BVI, Random Harvest's Octane

    Madeleine Stowe is to star in Octane, the first production through the partnership between Buena Vista International and UK tax-based financier Random Harvest.Also in the cast are Norman Reedus, Bijou Phillips, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Mischa Barton. The production, made under Random Harvest's genre label Four Horsemen Films, starts shooting next month in Luxembourg, with Delux Films co-producing.Marcus Adams (Long Time Dead) will direct from a screenplay by Stephe
  • Sundance Institute names 12 projects for 2002 labs

    The Sundance Institute has announced the 12 projects which have been selected for this year's annual Filmmakers and Screenwriters Labs which take place May 29 to June 25 at the Sundance Village in Utah. The labs offer emerging directors and screenwriters an opportunity to develop new work under the guidance of experienced filmmakers, with this year's creative advisors including Robert Redford, Kathryn Bigelow, Alfonso Cuaron, Sally Field, Miguel Arteta, Akiva Goldsman, Allen Daviau, Stanley T
  • Sweet Sixteen, Deux, 10 Minutes Older picked up by ottfilm

    Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen, which will premiere in competition in Cannes on May 21, is one of three new titles picked up by German theatrical distributor ottfilm. The Berlin-based outfit has also picked up another two Road Movies productions: Werner Schroeter's German-French co-production Deux -which will be screening in the Directors Fortnight on May 19 - and the compilation film Ten Minutes Older - The Trumpet, featuring contributions by Victor Erice, We
  • Thin Red Line producer Roberdeau dies, age 48

    JohnRoberdeau, nominated with his long-time partner Robert Michael Geisler for anAcademy Award for Best Picture as producers of Terrence Malick's TheThin Red Line (1998), died onMonday, May 6th at Manhattan's Cabrini Medical Center of aheart attack. He was 48.Inpartnership with Geisler since 1979, Roberdeau had recently announced thepair's acquisition of Faith of My Fathers, the best-selling memoir written by Senator JohnMcCain with Mark Salter. Senator McCain had actuall
  • Thunderpants

    Dir: Peter Hewitt. UK-Germany. 2002. 84mins. The big selling point of Thunderpants for its target audience will also be the main deterrent for their chaperones: the idea of a nondescript, none-too-bright 10-year-old boy with a single extraordinary talent for farting. Our hero's peer group will, of course, love this premise. But, once dragged along for the ride, reluctant adults will also find unexpected pleasures in Pete Hewitt's slight, but irresistibly charming comed
  • TIME media law division expanded by DLA & Partners

    Major European law alliance DLA & Partners (D&P), who established an international law alliance with one of Scandinavia's largest law firms Lindh Stabell Horten (LSH) last May, is to expand LSH's media arm, TIME, to include European and Asia clients. TIME, (Tele-communication, IT, Media and Entertainment), has been one of LSH's busiest divisions, covering film, television, radio, advertising and music production, as well as rights management, financing, sponsorships and merchandising.
  • Tomorrow La Scala! for UK's Portman Film

    The UK's Portman Film has picked up Francesca Joseph's Un Certain Regard film Tomorrow La Scala! for international sales.The low budget comedy - made for around£500,000 - is about an ambitious young director staging a musical of Sweeney Todd in a maximum security prison. Joseph, who makes her feature debut, made her mark with the BBC's documentary series Driving School, a humorous account of various hapless learner drivers.The first film from a co-production
  • Transylvania launches first international film festival

    Transylvania will host its first international film festival between June 3-9 in the city of Cluj, with a competitive strand for first and second features. The competition program comprises twelve titles, including: Peter Callahan's Last Ball (USA) Sean Garrity's Inertia (Canada)Cristi Puiu's Marfa Si Banii (Romania)Eric Assous' Sexes Tres Opposes (France)Andras Fesos' Seaside, Dusk (Hungary)Asia Argento's Scarlet Diva
  • Ullmann withdraws as director from $9.5m Nordisk biopic

    Actress-turned-director Liv Ullmann has withdrawn from the $9.5m historical biopic on Ole Bull, a Norwegian violinist and composer who died in 1880, which is currently in pre-production at Nordisk Film. The high-profile production based on a script by local author Ketil Bjornstad and backed by Norway's most famous violinist Arve Tellefsen, has been Ullmann's pet project for several years. In a surprising move that is getting huge local media attention, she has accused the Norweg
  • VFX experts converge on FMX conference

    Visual effects experts from Europe, Japan and the USA including Olcun Tan (Black Hawk Down), Karen E. Goulekas (Spider-Man), Thomas Duval (Amelie), and Tim McGovern (Total Recall) will speak about past and present projects and artistic visions in the conference section of this year's Film and Media Exchange (FMX) in Stuttgart from May 23-26.The FMX event which brings CGI animators, post-production companies, SFX supervisors together with budding digital arti
  • Via Digital, Canal Satelite Digital merger rumoured in Spain

    In the face of the pending closure of local digital terrestrial pay TV platform Quiero TV, rumors have flared once again in Spain that rival digital satellite platform owners Telefonica and Grupo Prisa are courting a fusion between Via Digital and Canal Satelite Digital (CSD).Insiders say that Spain's conservative government, considered to have close ties to formerly public telecoms conglom Telefonica and its TV holdings Via Digital and Antena 3, may begin to look favourably on the ide