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12 May 2003

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  • 3D films enter new box office dimension

    TwoImax large-format 3D films, T-Rex: Back To The Cretaceous and Space Station, passed box office milestones this week, havingearned $75m and $50m respectively. Releasedin 1998, T-Rex remains thehighest grossing 3D film while Space Station, released in 2002, continues its position as thefastest-growing 3D film.WhileSpace Station's 55 weeks at thebox office may seem glacially slow relative to conventional releases, it waslightening quick compare
  • Albert Lee named CEO of Emperor Multimedia Group

    Albert Lee has been appointed chief executive of Hong Kong's Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG), replacing Carl Chang who is leaving the company to set up his own production outfit.Chang is expected to work alongside Lee at EMG until delivery of $6m action adventure The Twins Effect which is currently in post-production. The film, which features Hong Kong pop duo Twins and a cameo by Jackie Chan, is scheduled for release in Hong Kong in June.Lee, a former Golden Harvest execu
  • Anger, Darkness score abroad for CTFDI

    Anger Management grossed $3.5m over the weekend ,scoring several number one openings to raise its international running total to$10.5m.The comedy, which is being handled by Columbia TriStar FilmDistributors International (CTFDI), opened top of the table in Germany on $2.3mon 870 screens, beating X2 in its second week.In the German-speaking parts of Switzerland it also openednumber one, grossing a fine $300,000 on 37 screens.Austria yielde
  • Anger, Darkness score in foreign openings for CTFDI

    Anger Management grossed $3.5m over the weekend, scoring severalnumber one openings to raise its international running total to $10.5m.The comedy, which is beinghandled by Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI), opened topof the table in Germany on $2.3m on 870 screens, beating X2 in itssecond week.In the German-speaking partsof Switzerland it also opened number one, grossing a fine $300,000 on 37screens.Austria yielded a number one$225,000
  • Argentina's Toys wins Int'l Student Film Fest

    Argentine filmmaker Esteban Puenza's Toys (Juguentes) won the Euros 5,000 Feature Film Prize at this year's 'Sehsuechte' International Student Film Festival which attracted more than 10,000 spectators to the festival venues in Babelsberg.Meanwhile, the Documentary Award was presented to Sandra Jakisch for 08/15 - Leben Am Rand Von Koeln which also won the newly created Prize Against Exclusion.Kathi Kaeppel's Pulikaukau received the Euros 2,500 Animation Awar
  • Australia's FFC chief outlines new funding model

    Six weeks into his new role as chief executive of Australia's Film Finance Corporation (FFC), Brian Rosen has called on local producers to make better use of his organisation's funds and to vary the ways they finance films. He also wants them to tell bigger stories that will attract the country's world class actors and to take advantage of the extremely favourable conditions that exist locally."I am encouraging producers to think outside the box in a way that helps them," he tol
  • Australia's Imagine to release Undead

    Australia's distribution newcomer Imagine Entertainment has picked up local rights to Undead, the horror film produced, directed and written by Queensland-based brothers Peter and Michael Spierig. Imagine principal John Vale will release the film after it has shown at all three east coast festivals, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The film is about a small country town that is infected with a virus that turns residents into zombies. It has already earned its filmmakers a
  • BAFTA re-schedules 2004 film awards

    BAFTA has changed the date of its film awards next year to avoid a clash with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual nominees' lunch, held in Los Angeles.The BAFTAs were originally set to take place on Sunday February 8 next year, but with the nominees' lunch scheduled for the following day, the awards will now take place on Sunday 15th February 2004."The Oscars' nominees' lunch is an enjoyable and traditionally well attended occasion, and the close proximity of
  • Bavaria Film takes int'l sales on Spanish Hours Of The Day

    Bavaria Film International (BFI) has picked up international sales rights to Spanish filmmaker Jaime Rosales' directorial debut The Hours Of The Day (Las Horas Del Dia) which will have its world premiere in Cannes' Director's Fortnight sidebar on May 19.The story about the monotony of life in a small town on the outskirts of Barcelona will be one of the films eligible to compete for the Camera d'Or award. Spanish theatrical distribution is already in place with Wanda Films.
  • Bright Future (Akarui Mirai)

    Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Jap. 2002. 115 mins.Bright Future is more arthouse than midnight screening material, but its style and concerns are vintage Kiyoshi Kurosawa - and it should interest his growing international fan base, especially when they hear that a poisonous jellyfish is a central character. Although the film may successfully play the festival circuit, Kurosawa's backers are no doubt hoping that he reverts to commercial form next time out: horror still outsell
  • BVITV names Maigret vice president, portfolio development

    Buena Vista International Television (BVITV) has appointed Philippe Maigret as vice president, portfolio development, it was announced by Tom Toumazis, senior vice president and managing director, BVITV EMEA. Maigret will be based in London and report directly to Toumazis. Maigret will focus on optimising the value of the BVITV programming portfolio through closer liaison with all internal and 3rd party producer groups including Walt Disney Studios, Miramax, Touchstone Television and
  • Cannes to screen restored classics

    The Cannes Film Festival has announced a line up of restored classics which will be screened during the fortnight in the Salle Bunuel. The program, which began last year, is a way to help audiences discover rare films and to provide them with the opportunity to see cinematic treasures in their finest possible version.The series will begin Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali's legendary dada work, Un Perro Andaluz. Reflecting the emphasis on Italian cinema at this year's festiva
  • CanWest dumps Firestone as Fireworks fizzles

    Money-losing Fireworks Entertainment has a new leader,following the departure Monday of founding president and CEO Jay Firestone fromparent company CanWest Global Communications. CanWest has invested considerably more than $100m in thefilm and television production company since acquiring it in 1998. Firestone'sfive-year contract was up for renewal on May 4, 2003. It was not renewed.Change was in the air late lastmonth when the Canadian media company released second quarter resu
  • Carver appointed senior vice president at Screen Gems

    Benedict Carver has been promoted to senior vice president, acquisitions and co-productions for Screen Gems, it was announced by Clint Culpepper, president, Screen Gems. Carver oversees worldwide acquisitions for Screen Gems and for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group (CTMPG). He also initiates co-financing projects with independent film companies. "Benedict is exceptionally aggressive with a keen eye for commercial fare and is the most valuable acquisitions executiv
  • Cast set for Nine Queens remake

    Recent Oscar nominee John C.Reilly (Chicago) and Mexican actor Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) are pairing up for the English-language remake of Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas), the Argentinian heist film that marked the directorial debut of Fabian Bielinsky. To be re-titled Criminal, the remake will also star Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary) and start shooting in June.Acquired by Steven Soderbergh's and George Clooney's company, Section Eight, from Pa
  • Constantin Film reports decreased sales, improved earnings

    Constantin Film has announced increased earnings for the first quarter of 2003 ahead of a May 10 meeting to decide on a response to the takeover bid from Highlight Communications.Earnings improved by Euros 600,000 over the first quarter of 2002 to Euros 1m, but sales fell 35% from 2002's Euros 36.8m to Euros 23.9m in the quarter.According to a statement, "the lower sales are due almost exclusively to the reduction of Euros 9.2m in world sales because no international in-house pr
  • Dark Lady Of DNA could be follow-up film to Whale Rider

    New Zealand's South Pacific Pictures (SPP) is developing a feature based on the book by Brenda Maddox about the life of Rosalind Franklin, whose work was essential to the discovery of DNA. The book, which is titled Rosalind Franklin, The Dark Lady of DNA, discusses how Franklin got no recognition for providing key clues that lead to the discovery, despite the rest of the team she was working with, Wilkins, Crick and Watson, receiving the Nobel Prize.Producer John Barnett
  • Dendy snaps up festival favourite Dogville for Australia

    Dendy Films has acquired Australian rights to Lars von Trier's highly anticipated Cannes contender just weeks before it is scheduled to hit the Croisette. The deal was signed last week with sales outfit Trust Film Sales, which now reports that only three key territories remain to be closed on the film - Germany, the UK and the US. Dogville was shot on a soundstage in Sweden in just six weeks with a cast including Hollywood legends and shining young stars; Lauren Bacall, B
  • Dendy snaps up Dogville for Australia

    Dendy Films has acquired Australian rights to Lars von Trier's highly anticipated Cannes contender just weeks before it is scheduled to hit the Croisette. The deal was signed last week with sales outfit Trust Film Sales, which now reports that only three key territories remain to be closed on the film - Germany, the UK and the US. Dogville was shot on a soundstage in Sweden in just six weeks with a cast including Hollywood legends and shining young stars; Lauren Bacall, B
  • EasyCinema finds film programming not so easy

    The UK's controversial easyCinema venture - which will sell tickets for as low as £0.20 and have no concessions stand or box office - has secured four titles from Pathe for the opening of its first cinema in Milton Keynes on May 23. But the company is now planning to meet with the UK's anti-competition body the Office of Fair Trading to discuss the difficulties it has experienced in securing films from the major studio distributors in the UK."They won't talk business," James Rot
  • Euro cinema classics set for US re-issue

    New York-based Rialto Pictures has acquired US theatrical, videoand DVD rights to seven classic titles from the StudioCanal library vaultsincluding works by Jean-Luc Godard, Vittorio De Sica, Alain Resnais andJean-Pierre Melville.A theatrical run of the restored films will kick off withGodard's romantic comedy A Woman Is A Womanat New York's Film Forum and San Francisco's Castro Theatre on May 16, movingto the Los Angeles Nuart on Jul 4.Rialto co-preside
  • Ex-Miramax buyer Dreyer joins Sperry's Paris office

    Elizabeth Dreyer, who most recently served as Miramax'sLondon-based film buyer, has joined Stephane Sperry's Liaisons Films as vicepresident of development and acquisitions.Dreyer will work out of Liaisons' Paris office and her duties willinvolve coordinating with the company's Los Angeles office, Canal Plus,StudioCanal and parent company Universal Pictures. Liaisons has a multi-yearfirst-look deal with Universal's specialist division Focus Features. Dreyer will report directly
  • Fantasporto gears up for 2004 edition

    Portugal's leading film festival, Fantasporto, is already revving engines for its 24th edition in 2004 (Feb 20-28), to be followed immediately by a year-long celebration of the event's 25th anniversary.The fantasy-focused event has announced retrospectives of three classic British actors of the genre: Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing and Chistopher Lee. The festival will also program a 3D digital animation cinema retrospective.A special sidebar on Spanish Fantasy Cinema is being org
  • Festival to screen restored classics in Salle Bunuel

    The Cannes Film Festival has announced a line up of restored classics which will be screened during the fortnight in the Salle Bunuel. The program, which began last year, is a way to help audiences discover rare films and to provide them with the opportunity to see cinematic treasures in their finest possible version.The series will begin Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali's legendary dada work, Un Perro Andaluz. Reflecting the emphasis on Italian cinema at this year's festiva
  • Fireworks acquires Nola for US release

    Fireworks Pictures has acquired US theatrical rights to theromantic comedy Nola,which premiered at the second Tribeca Film Festival this week and will bereleased in theatres in the autumn.The deal was negotiated by Andrew Herwitz of The FilmSales Company and Bob Aaronson, vice president of acquisitions andco-productions at Fireworks Pictures.Based on a screenplay by debut writer-director Alan Hruska, Nola stars Emmy Rossum (who appears in ClintEastwood's Cannes com
  • Ford spearheads beefed up Miramax International

    Miramax co-chief of acquisitions Stuart Ford (pictured) will now wear a new corporate hat as head of a bolstered Miramax International. Three other New York executives have also been promoted at the international division, all in an effort to keep up with the complexities of selling and distributing films overseas.As executive vice president and department head at MiramaxInternational, Ford will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of themini-studio's international business includ
  • France's MK2 boards Korea's Hong Sang-soo project

    The as-yet untitled fifth project by South Korean director Hong Sang-soo has secured partial financing from French production/distribution company MK2. The company will reportedly distribute the film directly through its French distribution circuit, as well as handling international sales and marketing outside of Asia.Currently in the casting stage, Hong's film (the Korean working title of which translates as Woman Is Man's Future) is scheduled to begin shooting in the a
  • Germany's VCL looks to US distribution

    Germany's VCL Film + Medien has announced that it is advanced negotiations with an unnamed US major to have part of its feature film repertoire distributed by the studio through an independent label.In a statement, the video/DVD distributor-license trader stated that this deal "would give [..] the urgently needed liquidity to acquire new films and further help the process of stabilisation."Last week, VCL forecast sales of between Euros 25m-30m for the current fiscal year, with
  • Hating Alison Ashley gets greenlight

    Australia's Film Finance Corporation board yesterday agreed to finance the feature Hating Alison Ashley to be directed by Rod Hardy from a script by Christine Madafferi. The teen comedy is an adaptation of Robin Klein's award-winning coming-of-age novel of the same name.Film Victoria is also contributing funding and a significant amount has come from private financiers. The film has been a long journey for producer Elizabeth Howatt-Jackman, who several months ago teamed u
  • Helkon SK renamed Redbus Film Distribution

    Helkon SK chiefs Simon Franks and Zygi Kamasa have renamed their UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution, signalling their imminent separation from bankrupt German parent Helkon Media.Franks and Kamasa have a contractual right to purchase Helkon Media's equity in their UK business at the end of this year but are seeking an earlier resolution. The duo's company was previously called Redbus when it was backed by Internet tycoon Cliff Stanford and his Redbus group.Franks, who will
  • Henson family buys Jim Henson Company from EM.TV

    Having been reportedly courted by Haim Saban and Walt Disney, Germany's EM.TV & Merchandising has sold all of its shares in the 100%-owned subsidiary The Jim Henson Company (TJHC) to the children of its founder Jim Henson.The transaction is worth approximately $89m, including a cash purchase price of $78m and $11m cash currently available on the books of TJHC. Both parties agreed to preserve confidentiality on other aspects of the agreement.While the deal with the Henson family
  • I Capture The Castle

    Dir: Tim Fywell. UK-South Africa. 2002. 112mins.A handsome feature debut from director Tim Fywell, I Capture The Castle offers a sensitive, sympathetic adaptation of a much loved British novel. Boasting an acute sense of period trappings and lush locations, it also showcases a memorably engaging performance from newcomer Romola Garai as a teenage girl who proves a shrewd, unsentimental observer of her bohemian family's misfortunes. Well-crafted and wholesome, it might
  • Imax results beat quarterly expectations

    Imax Corp. posted improved quarterly results, yieldingearnings of $34m, up from $31.3m in the prior year quarter and exceedinganalyst estimates. The company has been hot of late, following news lastmonth that the second and third Matrix films, The Matrix Reloadedand The Matrix Revolutions, willbe released on Imax screens concurrent with their conventional releases - in thecase of Revolutions, day and date.In March, Imax introduced a lower-cost theatre
  • Iranian Exam wins Jeonju Int'l Film Fest

    The 4th edition of the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) in South Korea wrapped on Sunday with Iranian director Nasser Refaie winning the top award in the Asian NewComers section with his film Exam. The debut work centers around a group of Iranian women who gather to take a university entrance examination.The festival's Daring Digital Award for challenging digital works was presented to German director Marc Ottiker's 1/2 The Rent, a film produced by Wim Wenders a
  • It Runs In The Family

    Dir: Fred Schepisi. US. 2003. 109mins Three generations and four members of the Kirk and Michael Douglas clan get into the act in this comedy/drama about conflicted family relationships. The film is tough-going for the first hour due to slow pacing, awkward acting, abrupt editing - as if a lot of bad material had to be cut around - and the painful sight of the once vigorous Kirk Douglas hobbling around, his speech slurred by a stroke. But the genuine characters, familiar sit
  • Johnny English holds up strongly against X2

    Universal's smash spy spoof Johnny English has hoisted its international runningtotal to $90.5m after 25 days on release, adding $8.2m from 3,000 theatres in37 countries over the weekend, according to estimates.The comedy placed second in the international market behind Fox's X2:X-Men United and managedseveral decent holds despite the global mutant onslaught.Highlights included a second place finish in the UK behind opener X2, dropping 44% and adding $2m fro
  • Killing Words (Palabras Encadenadas)

    Dir: Laura Mana. Spain. 2003. 87mins.This stylish thriller from second-time director Laura Mana is among the most polished that production and sales backer Filmax, specialists in the genre via label Fantastic Factory, has yet to offer. Its recent best photography and music wins at the Spanish Film Festival of Malaga pay tribute to its technical refinement. Foreign distributors face the challenge of translating the word games the characters play, but otherwise this film has no
  • Korean Memories Of Murder holds off X2

    Memories Of Murder, the second film by director Bong Joon-ho (Barking Dogs Never Bite), has become a major success at the South Korean box-office, holding off strong competition from X2: X-Men United to remain at number 1 in its second week.Released on April 25, Memories Of Murder has grossed $8.2m in eleven days, with strong word of mouth pushing its May 3-4 gross up 18% on the previous weekend. The black comedy, starring popular actor Song Kang-ho
  • Lions Gate digs up 1000 Corpses sequel

    Rob Zombie is preparing to write and direct a sequel to his breakoutdebut feature House Of 1,000 Corpses for Lions Gate Films, which wants to lay the foundations fora cult franchise.The original House of 1,000 Corpses, which centres on a couple that stumble upona family of psychotics, was released through Lions Gate on April 11 and hasgrossed more than $11m. Zombie is a Grammy-nominated hard rock star and MTVvideo award winner.The Firm's Beau Flynn willproduce the
  • Liz Hurley to star as Method killer

    Elizabeth Hurley has been signed as the lead actress in Method, a thriller for Andrew Stevens' company Trademark Entertainment. Hurley will be promoting the film during the Cannes film festival this month. The film will be offered for sale at the Cannes market and is available in all foreign territories. Shooting starts in July.'The script has been rewritten with Elizabeth in mind,' said President Andrew Stevens. "Hurley was hoping to do something to push the erotic edg
  • Local comedy to open 50th Sydney Film Festival

    The Honourable Wally Norman, a film that continues Australia's long comedy tradition of the underdog succeeding against all odds, is the opening night film of the 50th Sydney Film Festival. Kevin Harrington (The Dish) is in the lead role of Wally, who is accidentally nominated to run for Federal Parliament.The film was directed by Ted Emery from a script by Rick Kalowski and Andrew Jones, and was produced by Ocean Pictures principals Jonathan Shteinman and Emile Sh
  • Malaga seduced by Torremolinos

    First-time feature director Pablo Berger's Torremolinos 73 scooped four top awards at Spain's sixth annual Spanish Film Festival of Malaga, which ended Saturday night (April 25-May 3).The 1970's-set dramedy about a couple's accidental spiral into the porno film industry won best film, director, actor (Javier Camara) and actress (Candela Pena).Three other titles split the remaining awards: Pedro Olea's Stormy Weather (Tiempo De Tormenta) from Lolafilms won a special
  • Matthew Glotzer promoted at 20th Fox TV Distribution

    Matthew Glotzer has been named vice president, Video On Demand and Business Development, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, it was announced by Jamie McCabe, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Pay Per View and Video On Demand. Glotzer will be based at the company's headquarters in Los Angeles.Glotzer has been with the company since 1999, most recently as vice president, Business Development, Twentieth Century Fox. Prior to that he was director, Finance, Twentieth Century Fox
  • Miami Gay & Lesbian festival names winners

    Mark Rucker's murder comedy Die Mommie Die and Geoff Sax's nineteenth century lovestory Tipping The Velvet took top honours at the Fifth Annual Miami Gay & Lesbian FilmFestival, which ran from April 25-May 4.The best documentary award went to Even Benestad's profile of histransvestite father in All About My Father, while best short went to Frederic Moffet's documentary HardFat, about fetishisticweight gain.The Special Jury Award for the First Time Fea
  • Miramax snaps up Pride And Prejudice: The Bollywood Musical

    Miramax Films has beaten several US rivals to pre-buy North and South American rights on Pathe UK's white-hot Pride And Prejudice: The Bollywood Musical, according to sources.Pathe is launching international sales at Cannes on the all-singing, all-dancing take on Jane Austen's novel, directed by Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai, who is also on the Cannes jury, and possibly rising New Zealand star Martin Henderson, who
  • Monarch targets drug-free 'urban' titles for US video

    Monarch Home Video (MHV) has signed a four-film deal with Tim Reid's Obsidian Home Entertainment to supply four urban comedies, all of them purposefully free of drug references or excessive violence.The deal starts on June 24 with the release of Tim Reid's For Real, a romantic comedy set in the music world and styled as a latter-day My Fair Lady. Tamara Curry stars in the film alongside Reid, who also directed. DVD extras include bloopers, theatrical trailer, sound
  • Myriad beefs up London operation with double hire

    Bolstering its London operation, production and distribution company MyriadPictures has hired former Winchester executive Christine Howard as head of international business affairsand Alice Weston, formerly at Universal, as sales executive. Both appointments come asthe London office expands its role as a stand-alone production and acquisitionsentity led by Marion Pilowsky, head of international production, and a sales and distribution operation hea
  • New UK sales company Element X teams with Visionview

    Former FilmFour executives Janine Gold and Natalie Brenner have launched their own sales outfit, Element X, with a non-exclusive relationship with leading UK tax financier Visionview.Gold and Brenner expect to handle up to eight titles in their first year, with budgets up to $25m. Both Element X and Visionview will continue working with third parties."We were looking for a financing partner, and Visionview wanted to boost their position in the marketplace by partnering with a sa
  • Nordic films dominate Toronto children's festival

    Finnish filmmakerKlaus Haro's Elina continued its winning ways, taking theYoung People's Jury Award at the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festivalfor Children, which wrapped this weekend. Elina, from Sweden, won theCrystal Bear at the Berlinale's Kinderfilmfest in February, and top prizes atthe Montreal International Children's Film Festival and Sweden's BUFF, a childrenand youth festival in Malmo, in March.Starring Bibi Andersson, Elina wasselected by jurors
  • Odeon Cinemas' Segal to receive Cinema Expo award

    Richard Segal, chief executive of the UK's Odeon Cinemas, is to be honoured as Exhibitor of the Year at the forthcoming Cine Expo cinema convention in Amsterdam (June 23-26).A well-respected executive in the UK cinema industry, Segal was installed as chief of Odeon shortly after the circuit was acquired by Cinven in February 2000, which subsequently merged it with ABC Cinemas.In March this year, Odeon was sold for around $690m to a consortium of investors comprising German inves
  • Odyssey to bring high-profile slate to Cannes

    Ralph Kamp and Louise Goodsill's UK-based sales company Odyssey Entertainment is heading to Cannes with a bustling slate including two new additions - The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp, John Malkovich and Samantha Morton, and The Blue Afternoon, directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Olivier Martinez and Sam Neill.The Libertine stars Depp as the real-life Earl of Rochester, the notoriously debauched 17th century poet who died at 33 a physical wreck. Malkovich,
  • Optimum boards untitled Shane Meadows feature

    UK distributor Optimum Releasing has picked up Shane Meadows' new untitled feature, which started shooting this week in the North of England. The film, which stars and is co-written by long-time Meadows collaborator Paddy Considine, has no set script and was developed through a series of rehearsals and improvisations. The film, shooting on super-16mm with DoP Danny Cohen, is billed as a genre-busting tale of vengeance. "I wanted to work with Shane for a long time," said Optimum'
  • Palace backs next film by Japanese Story trio

    Palace Films has committed to the Australian release of comedy/drama Driving Back To Dubbo from the Melbourne-based team behind this year's Un Certain Regard entrant Japanese Story.It will be the third film from director Sue Brooks, writer Alison Tilson and producer Sue Maslin. The debut film for all three was the 1995 sleeper hit Road To Nhill. Driving Back To Dubbo is a drama/comedy about a 14-year-old girl who runs away from home after stealing $2
  • Portugese exhibitor to double screen count in 2004

    Portugal's Socorama-Castello Lopes Cinemas exhibition chain plans to nearly double its screen count across the territory by the end of next year.The company, a joint venture between local exhibition pioneer Castello Lopes and four-year-old holding company JRP, aims to go from the 67 screens in 15 complexes it owned at the end of 2002 to a total 120 screens by the end of 2004.This year will see 36 new screens open to the tune of an overall Euros 8.5m investment for 2003. The most
  • Ridley reopens Black Dahlia murder case for Lions Gate

    John Ridley, whose writing credits include Undercover Brother and U-Turn, is to direct the thriller Let MeTake You Down for LionsGate Films, the company announced Based on an original screenplay by Ridley, the projectcentres on a Hollywood coroner's office worker who attempts to reopen thelegendary 1947 Black Dahlia murder case.Ridley will produce Let Me Take You Down through his newly formed InternationalFamous Players Radio Picture Corporation (Radi
  • Sandrew Metronome International reveals new team for Cannes

    Scandinavian distributor Sandrew Metronome will this year be attending Cannes with an all-new acquisitions team. Assembled after veteran CEO Bertil Sandgren's retirement last month, Sandrew Metronome International's new acquisitions team now comprises Eivor Zimmerman and Stine Helgeland, with Frida Ohrvik as CEO in charge of strategic development and finance.Sandrew Metronome International is Sandrew Metronome's acquisitions and rights holding company, which an
  • Sandrew Metronome reveals new team for Cannes

    Scandinavian distributor Sandrew Metronome will this year be attending Cannes with an all-new acquisitions team. Assembled after veteran CEO Bertil Sandgren's retirement last month, Sandrew Metronome International's new acquisitions team now comprises Eivor Zimmerman and Stine Helgeland, with Frida Ohrvik as CEO in charge of strategic development and finance.Sandrew Metronome International is Sandrew Metronome's acquisitions and rights holding company, which an
  • Sarajevo festival to launch CineMart-inspired CineLink

    This year's Sarajevo Festival (August 15-23) will be launching its CineLink project which has been inspired by Rotterdam's CineMart.CineLink is being organised in cooperation with the Rotterdam festival to bring key producers, sales agents and public funders to meet regional filmmakers.Screenplays from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro could be entered for the regional script development project by mid-April, and a shortlist of ten or more scripts will b
  • Shanghai International Film Festival succumbs to SARS

    The organisers of the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) have confirmed that this year's event will not take place as scheduled next month (June 7-15). Instead, the event has been postponed until 2004, when it will run June 5-13. Organisers are concerned that the worsening SARS situation in mainland China will deter overseas guests from attending. But they also face the possibility that guests arriving from other parts of China could help spread the disease. Shanghai ha
  • Sony Pictures TV Int'l promotes Mike Wald

    Mike Wald has been promoted to senior vice president, Worldwide Pay Television at Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), it was announced by Peter Iacono, Executive Vice President, Sales, SPTI, to whom Wald reports. Wald, who has held the post of vice president of Worldwide Pay Television at SPTI since November of 2000, continues to oversee all worldwide pay television activities for the studio managing SPTI's relationships with major domestic and international pay television c
  • Spain's Filmax to expand and diversify

    Spanish mini-studio Filmax is preparing ambitious new plans to expand and diversify its already wide-ranging activities. The Barcelona-based company is one of the Spanish industry's biggest, with production, distribution, exhibition and international sales ventures. It is behind internationally successful genre label Fantastic Factory and is readying a new slate of ambitious films and co-productions to present in Cannes. According to statements made by Filmax president Julio Fer
  • Spanish film fest's Projects Forum sizes up five films

    Spanish producers took advantage of the talent and media congregated in Malaga last week for the sixth annual Spanish Film Festival (April 25 - May 3) to present five new feature films in various stages of production.The festival's Projects Forum (Foro de Proyectos) offers a glimpse into a few of the Spanish titles which will be making news in late 2003 and early 2004. The Forum also provides a showcase for films backed by Malaga fest sponsors Antena 3 and Via Digital, as well as Anten
  • Spyglass hires Sortito to tap corporate sponsors

    Marketing veteran Karen Sortito has joined Spyglass Entertainmentin the new position of executive vice president of worldwide marketing,Most recently she served as an entertainment consultant forHollywood studios and production companies, where her clients included SonyPictures Entertainment, Revolution Studios and IMAX.Prior to that her previous appointments have included, amongothers, executive vice president of worldwide promotions at MGM studios and keymarketing executive po
  • Streetsweeper cleans up at LA Italian festival

    The Streetsweeper, a low budget American drama by James Hill that took five yearsto make, was named best picture at the 5th annual Los Angeles Italian FilmAwards at the weekend (May 4).Broadway veteran Paul Michael stars as a man who honourshis wife's dying wish by cleaning streets in order to raise money to send theirson to Harvard.After chronic financing and distribution difficulties, TheStreetsweeper was fullyfinanced by the Italian Film Commission and received
  • Studio Hamburg launches English-language division

    Studio Hamburg Produktion (SHP) has launched an English-language division Studio Hamburg International Production (SHIP) to focus on internationally marketable productions as part of the reorganisation of SHP's production activities by CEO Sytze van der Laan. Operating from Hamburg and Los Angeles, SHIP's head of production will be former independent producer Stuart Pollok, who most recently produced the European co-production One Of The Hollywood Ten starring Jeff Goldblum, Gr
  • Sundance acquires Die Mommie Die for US release

    The Sundance Channel has acquired all US rights to Mark Rucker'sdirectorial debut Die Mommie Die with a theatrical release through the Sundance Film Series slatedfor autumn.An ode to the Ross Hunter-style cinema soaps of the 1960s, DieMommie Die deals withthe fall-out from a two-timing pop diva's attempt to murder her husband.Charles Busch (who also wrote the screenplay), Frances Conroy,Philip Baker Hall and Jason Priestley star in the film, which premiered at this
  • Talk To Her crosses C$1m milestone in French Canada

    Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her has surpassed C$1m ($708,000) in its 19th weekat the Quebec box office, making it one of the top grossing foreign languagefilms of all time in Canada's predominantly French-language province.The highest grossing film in alanguage other than English or French, Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful(La Vie Est Belle), earned C$3.5m in the province on release in 1998. Talk To Her, which won Almodovar the Academy Award for Best
  • Terence Davies' Sunset Song to shoot this summer

    Terence Davies' adaptation of the classic Scottish novel Sunset Song is on track to start shooting on location in Scotland from August or September, according to producer Bob Last.A global casting search is under way for a lead actress and Last will announce funding partners at Cannes. Scottish Screen has awarded £500,000 of Lottery funding to a film Last describes as "ambitious and substantial" in its scope.Lewis Grassic Gibbon's novel was first published in 1932 and tel
  • Teresa Moneo named co-MD at Aurum

    Teresa Moneo, former senior vice president of production at Miramax in London, has joined Spanish film distributor Aurum as co-managing director.She will work alongside Javier Gracia, Aurum's former subdirector of administration and finance, who has been promoted to co-managing director. Moneo and Gracia will both travel to Cannes with the company, arriving May 15."I am truly delighted to be given the opportunity to work in the Spanish industry from such a solid platform as Auru
  • The Actors

    Dir: Conor McPherson. UK-Ire-US-Ger. 2002. 92minsThe Actors is the kind of film that was more fun to make than to watch. A ragged, lightweight romp with more energy than credibility, it is a curious disappointment considering the track record of the talents involved. Based on a story by Neil Jordan, it lacks the wit or character development that would encourage any emotional engagement in a manic farce of thieves and thespians, disguise and deceit. The combination of M
  • The Glow (Zimzum)

    Dir: Igal Bursztyn. Israel. 2002. 86mins.A disenchanted metaphor for contemporary Israel, located in a satirical limbo, Igal Bursztyn's The Glow addresses politically-involved academic circles rather than mainstream film audiences. A low-budget production made for TV - it has already screened on cable in Israel - but shot on film with an eye to theatrical distribution, it could, with the right handling, have a modest career on specialised overseas film circuits. But un
  • The Heart Elsewhere (Il Cuore Altrove)

    Dir: Pupi Avati. Italy. 2003. 107mins.The Heart Elsewhere (Il Cuore Altrove), Pupi Avati's sentimental period drama set in 1920s Bologna, has its good points, notably the emergence of Neri Marcore - so far known mainly for his appearances on Italian TV comedy shows - as a serious actor but it is flawed by a spectacularly wooden performance by Marcore's love interest, Vanessa Incontrada. The main effect of the film's Cannes airing, beyond adding a few more te
  • The Lizzie McGuire Movie

    Dir: Jim Fall. US. 2003. 93minsAfter three, wildly successful seasons on the Disney Channel, tween queen Lizzie McGuire has made the leap to the big screen. First introduced to US audiences back in 2000 (the live action/animated series only began airing in the UK and other international markets a year ago), Lizzie is a favourite among girls aged six to 14, many of whom helped the film to a good debut in the US. Released by Buena Vista in the US as an astute piece of counter-p
  • The Matrix Reloaded

    Dir: The Wachowski Brothers. US. 2003. 138 mins.If The Matrix (1999) remains memorable for its elegant visuals, ingenious story and cool humour, its sequel Reloaded is a case of system overload. Faced with the challenge of crafting back-to-back sequels (part III Revolutions is due in November), the mysterious and brilliant Wachowski Brothers have opted to construct a mythic saga a la Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings in which man battles mach
  • Toronto Festival puts Brazil in spotlight

    The cinema of Brazil has been selected for the NationalCinema programme at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, Sept.4-13. Programmer Diana Sanchez will select between eight and ten titles.The announcement is a strong indication that Toronto will be presenting newworks from two of Brazil's leading auteurs, Hector Babenco and Walter Salles. Babenco'sCarandiru, a hit at home, is incompetition at Cannes; Salles' Che Guevara biopic The MotorcycleDiaries, st
  • Torremolinos 73

    Dir: Pablo Berger. Spain-Denmark. 2003. 90mins.A simpatico local comedy, Torremolinos 73 swept last week's Spanish Film Festival of Malaga, winning best film, director, actor and actress awards. Like last year's top Malaga winner and Spanish box office hit The Other Side Of The Bed (El Otro Lado De La Cama), produced by the same lead partners and picked up for international by Lion's Gate, what appears to be a product for local consumption could well attract for
  • Twenty films compete for Camera d'Or

    Wim Wenders will head the jury that awards the Camera d'Or, the Cannes festival's prize for a best first film. Open to films from any section of the festival (including Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week) the prize is this time sought by a bumper crop of 20 first films. Other jurors include Agnes Godard (cinematographer) Alain Champetier (technician), Bernard Uhlmann (described as a film buff), Christian Vincent (director), Claude Makovski (film buff), Geraldine d'Haen (jury
  • Twenty first films compete for Camera d'Or

    Wim Wenders will head the jury that awards the Camera d'Or, the Cannes festival's prize for a best first film. Open to films from any section of the festival (including Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week) the prize is this time sought by a bumper crop of 20 first films. Other jurors include Agnes Godard (cinematographer) Alain Champetier (technician), Bernard Uhlmann (described as a film buff), Christian Vincent (director), Claude Makovski (film buff), Geraldine d'Haen (jury
  • Two offers made for UGC Cinemas

    Two venture capital firms have made takeover offers for UGC Cinemas according to French financial daily Les Echos. The two, LBO France and CDC Ixis, have made firm approaches to Vivendi Universal, which owns 55% of the exhibition giant. A third venture, headed by Banque Paribas offshoot PAI apparently examined documentation but decided not to proceed with a bid. But before a sale can go ahead, terms need to be agreed with the trustees of the Verrecchia family which holds
  • Two SARS-themed films ready to shoot

    Producers in Hong Kong and China are preparing two separate films about the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which are both scheduled to start shooting next week.The Hong Kong project, The City Of SARS, will be produced by Mandarin Films with Steve Cheng directing. Described by Mandarin as a comedy drama, the film is divided into three stories: the first about Hong Kong's medical workers; the second a love story about a boy and girl who meet when their
  • UK gives X2 its biggest international opening

    As X-Men fever swept the globe over the weekend, the UK was no exception to 20th Century Fox's mammoth success. Indeed X2: X-Men United's $11.3m (£7m) four-day opening from 449 UK sites gave the distributor its highest international opening for the film.The comic-book adventure easily took the top spot over the three-day weekend with a take of $9.5m (£5.9m), after launching on Thursday for a first day gross of $1.8m (£1.1m) from 447 sites. The result was the highest openi
  • UK's Celador commissions Millionaire script

    Russell T Davies has been commissioned to write a feature screenplay based on the events surrounding the recent Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' fraud case for the UK's Celador Films, the sister company to the TV concern behind the hit gameshow.Davies, whose credits Bob And Rose, Queer As Folk and The Second Coming, is approaching the story as a comedy of errors detailing the obsessions, rivalries and high hopes of the central characters, Major Charles Ingram, his w
  • Universum picks up 80 Days for Germany

    RTL Group's theatrical distribution arm Universum Film has picked up the German theatrical and video/DVD rights to Frank Coraci's Around The World In 80 Days which began shooting in Berlin yesterday.Universum acquired the film from German rights trader Telepool and will now have to decide which of its physical distribution partners - Constantin Film, UIP or Central Film - will handle the film's release for Germany.Asked who the film's North American distributor would be,
  • Welcome to Dogville

    Whenever Danish maverick Lars von Trier premieres a new film at Cannes, audiences can expect something innovative and provocative. Breaking The Waves, The Idiots and Dancer In The Dark all aroused strong reactions on the Croisette - and his latest film, Dogville starring Nicole Kidman, should be no exception. Like von Trier's other films, Dogville has been shrouded in secrecy. Until recently all that was known was that for the entire six week shoot th
  • X2 global rampage keeps pirates at bay

    20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United grossed an emphatic $69,270,300 outside North America this past weekend in what was the most ambitious - and most lucrative - day-and-date global release ever staged by a studio.Adding in the simultaneous $85,558,731 taken in domestically, the global total of $154,829,031 for X2 represents the biggest ever worldwide opening weekend yet recorded for a theatrical release.In terms of international opening weekends, the $69.3m raked
  • X2 storms to $149m in second week

    TwentiethCentury Fox's X2: X-Men United stayed top in its second session with anestimated $41.4m weekend haul that puts the sci-fi sequel on a mighty $149mafter 10 days.Thefilm is unlikely to extend its reign next week when Warner Bros opens TheMatrix Reloaded, but will now set it sights on putting as much groundbetween it and the $157.3m grossed by X-Men in 2000.X2 averaged $11,045 from 3,748 theatres, the highest average inthe top 10.Openingi