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15 July 2000

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  • A&E, Arau board Magnificent Ambersons

    Mexican director Alfonso Arau (Like Water For Chocolate) is set to direct $16m mini-series The Magnificent Ambersons for Italy's DeAngelis Group and US cable network A&E which has signed on to co-produce the project. Arau replaces Herbert Ross (Steel Magnolias) who was forced to pull out. Principal photography is scheduled to start August 15 in Ireland. No cast is yet attached.DeAngelis Group confirmed it is in "advanced talks" with RAI for free TV rights fo
  • AFI Awards get record number of entries

    Twenty-five films have been submitted for the 2000 AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards, the biggest number of entries for nearly 10 years. Titles range from box office winners The Wogboy and Looking For Alibrandi, to highly-anticipated features such as Chopper and Bootmen, to tiny privately-financed fare such as Chasing Parked Cars and Starring Duncan Wiley. Also among the submissions are Better Than Sex, Innocence and
  • Alliance Atlantis takes control of Great North

    Alliance Atlantis Communications (AAC) has agreed to acquire the 61% of Edmonton-based factual programming producer, Great North Communications, it does not already own. The deal, expected to close at the end of July, follows AAC's previously announced plans for growth in the factual and documentary genres.Great North reported revenues of $11.5m (C$17m) and total assets of about $16.9m (C$25m) for the year ending April 30, 2000. The company owns a catalogue of about 675 programming hou
  • Andersson's Songs wins French critics' prize

    Roy Andersson's Songs From The Second Floor has been awarded the French critics' prize Le Prix Tres Special.Established by French critics Jean-Claude Romer and Gerard Lenne in 1985 in opposition to the "political correctness which dominates the juries at most international events", the prize is usually awarded to unusual, off-the-wall features. Previous recipients include Michael Haneke's Funny Games and Todd Solondz' Happiness. Songs From The Second Floo
  • Argentina's Aleph tries on Runaway Shoes

    Argentina's Aleph Productions has boarded $2m comedy Runaway Shoes (Viva Sapato!) as co-producer alongside Brazil's Total Filmes and Spain's Euroficcion.The Spanish-language film, touted as the first ever co-production between Brazil, Argentina and Spain, will be shot in Brazil and Cuba in December this year. It will feature Cuban actor Jorge Peruggoria who developed the script with the project's Brazilian director Luiz Carlos Lacerda. Spain's Kevin Williams Associates is handli
  • Australia's Palace buys private Dope

    Australian distributor Palace Films has picked up local rights to Australian title Dope, a privately-financed project from first-time writer-director J Harkness which is currently in pre-production.The cross-cultural love story cranks up in Adelaide on August 21 with Harkness and Mark Patterson producing. Adelaide-based Guerilla Films is the production company. The South Australian Film Corporation assisted the project's development.The film is one of three currently in p
  • Baise-moi gets outing at Euro-heavy Locarno

    Controversial French title Baise-moi will make its first international outing in the main competition section at the Locarno International Film Festival, festival director Marco Mueller announced on Thursday.Virginie Despentes' hard core debut, a cause celebre amongst French indies fighting would-be censors, will compete in a selection laden with world premieres from Europe and Asia but light on US fare.In a statement, the festival said the film represented "a challenge t
  • Byers clears ITV consolidation with conditions

    UK trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers has paved the way for consolidation of the ITV commercial broadcast network by clearing the proposed merger between TV companies Carlton Communications and United News & Media, and a possible rival bid for either from Granada Media. However, Byers said he would only allow the Carlton-United merger if United sold its regional Meridian TV franchise. The stipulation to sell Meridian comes after the Competition Commission said that a merger bet
  • Carlton sells Quantel to management team for $77m

    UK media group Carlton Communications had ended its search for a buyer for editing equipment maker Quantel by striking a $76.9m (£51m) deal with a management buy-out team, Carlton said on Thursday.The buy-out team, which includes chairman Richard Taylor, struck the deal after securing backing from Lloyds TSB Development Capital. The new owners may also pay Carlton a further $85.9m (£57m) depending on future performance of the business or profits realised in the event of a future sale o
  • CASE STUDY - Faithless

    Jacob Neiiendam follows the making of Swedish feature Faithless, in competition at this year's Cannes film festival, which Liv Ullmann directed from a script by her former lover Ingmar Bergman.May 1998Then 79-year-old Swedish master film-maker Ingmar Bergman meets the media for the first time in 16 years at a press conference where he announces he has written a feature called Faithless (Trolosa) for Swedish actress Lena Endre. "Had she turned down the pa
  • CASE STUDY - Peppermint Candy

    With one arthouse hit already behind him, Korea's Lee Chang-Dong found it quick and easy to finance his Directors' Fortnight entry Peppermint Candy. Tony Rayns reports on the making of the first Korean-Japanese co-production in living memory.Early 1996Four friends come together to form South Korea's East Film, which they jokingly refer to as "the support committee for the debut of director Lee Chang-Dong". Lee is a successful novelist who was asked to script tw
  • Cecchi Gori confirms Telefonica talks

    Italy's Cecchi Gori Communications has confirmed that it is holding talks with Spain's Telefonica, one of eight potential partners, about selling a minority stake in the group or one of its subsidiaries. However president Vittorio Cecchi Gori denied that the group's beleaguered TV station TeleMontecarlo is up for sale.Cecchi Gori has been seeking foreign investors for some time in a bid to shake off financial difficulties before next year's planned stock market flotation."We are
  • Cecil B Demented

    Dir: John Waters. US. 2000. 88 mins.Prod co: Polar Entertainment. Co prods: Le Studio Canal Plus, Bac Films. Domestic dist: Artisan. Int'l Sales: Le Studio Canal Plus (00 33 1 44 43 98 00). Exec prods: Anthony DeLorenzo, Fred Bernstein. Prods: John Fiedler, Joe Caracciolo Jr., Mark Tarlov. Scr: Waters. Dop: Robert Stevens. Prod des: Vincent Peranio. Ed: Jeffrey Wolf. Music: Zoe and Basil Poledouris. Main cast: Melanie Griffth, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt, Eric M Barry, Ricki Lake.
  • Cirjanic to head TV sales at FilmFour Int'l

    The UK's FilmFour has appointed Nada Cirjanic to the newly-created post of TV sales manager at overseas sales arm FilmFour International.Cirjanic joins FilmFour on August 21 from Granada Media International, where she managed TV, video and format sales to France, Italy and Turkey for two years. She will be responsible for all international sales of TV and ancillary rights for FilmFour's entire catalogue, which were previously handled by Channel Four International.At Granada, Cir
  • Czech Television concentrates film investment

    The Czech Republic's largest film financier, Czech Television (CTV), has decided to channel its annual $2.4m (CKr92m) film investment into 8-10 features in 2001, compared to the 14 productions which it is backing this year. "The overall amount we invest will be about the same, about $2.4-2.6m (CKr92-100m)," said CTV programming chief Jaroslav Kucera. "But inflation and rising production costs mean that the money will not stretch as far and it makes more sense to concentrate our money i
  • Deauville to host Eastwood tribute

    The 26th Deauville film festival (September 1-10) will feature a tribute to Clint Eastwood to coincide with the premiere of his latest film as a director, Space Cowboys, starring Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner and Donald Sutherland who will also attend.Other honourees of the American film festival include producer Dino de Laurentiis for U-571 and Samuel L. Jackson for Shaft and Rules Of Engagement. Other stars expected to attend include John Cusack, Edward No
  • EC greenlights Telefonica's Endemol buy-out

    The European Commission has waved through Spanish telco Telefonica's proposed takeover of Dutch production company Endemol Entertainment which made headlines across Europe when it was first unveiled in March (Screendaily, March 20)."Although this operation will integrate Telefonica into the upstream market of production of TV programmes, it will not result in any significant change of the market structure. Consequently, the operation does not raise competition concerns," the Com
  • Edinburgh festival to host Luzhin premiere

    Marleen Gorris' The Luzhin Defence and Bill Eagles' Beautiful Creatures are amongst the world premieres at next month's Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 13-27).Artistic director Lizzie Francke has also confirmed that the festival will be book-ended by Lars von Trier's opening film Dancer In The Dark and Wong Kar-Wai's closing title In the Mood For Love.But the event - which premiered Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels - also has a
  • Eurimages pumps $3.6m into 11 projects

    Eurimages, the Council of Europe-backed production finance body, has pumped $3.58m (Euros3.75m) into European co-productions in its second round of funding this year.After a funding round in Budapest (July 3-5), Eurimages announced that it will provide production finance for 11 features and underwrite the release of a further 19 European pictures by specialist distributors.Eurimages introduced two new categories for production funding in March; the first for projects with the po
  • Europe to streamline media, telecoms regulation

    The European Commission yesterday announced plans to replace sector specific regulation of media, telecoms and the internet with a single set of rules covering all forms of electronic communication.The "technology neutral" rules are intended to increase competition and to stimulate affordable high-speed internet access. Although the EU's telecoms markets were liberalised in January 1998, competition in local markets remains limited. Since then access to the internet and the introductio
  • Festival do Rio secures $1.7m from Petrobras

    Brazilian state-owned petroleum company Petrobras Distribuidora, a stalwart supporter of local cinema since 1994, has announced its exclusive three-year sponsorship of the Festival do Rio, Brazil's most prestigious international film festival. It has also committed towards the restoration of the venerable Odeon Theatre, built in 1926. Petrobras has allotted $1.7m (real3m) for the festival and another $1.1m (real2m) towards the restoration of the Odeon Theatre, located in downtown Rio d
  • Film Roman hires Bastianelli for int'l expansion

    Film Roman, the children's animation outfit which recently expanded to produce live action TV series, specials and feature films, has retained the services of Eileen Bastianelli to create a worldwide presence for the company. Bastianelli, based in Paris, has been engaged as a consultant to form co-productions and establish other strategic international relationships as well as accessing financing and identifying overseas properties which will be viable for the US market.Bastianelli wi
  • France's AlloCine to launch movie channel

    French film-oriented internet portal AlloCine, in which Canal Plus holds a 25% stake, will launch a movie-themed channel, AlloCine Television, as of September 2000.The channel will not screen films, but in line with AlloCine's website - - will carry film-centred news including real-time box office, interviews and talk-shows. It will also screen promo reels of films a week before and after their French opening, offering a prime pro
  • Granada readies $3bn warchest ahead of ITV battle

    Granada Media secured at least $2bn (£1.3bn) from its float today (July 11) as it shapes up for a possible three-way fight for control of the UK's commercial TV broadcasters.The media division, which is being spun off from its parent Granada Group, fixed the price of its offer at 515 pence per share. The move valued the company at $11.4bn (£7.5bn).Shares surged to 555 pence as trading started on the London Stock Exchange. The company sold an 18% stake to institutional investors.
  • HBO re-enters Argentinian cable market

    HBO Latin America Group has agreed to restore its movie channels HBO and Cinemax to leading Argentinian cable operators Multicanal and Cablevision after boycotting Argentina's cable industry for the past 18 months.HBO and Cinemax pulled out of the Argentine market in January 1999 in protest against the lack of encrypted tiering which obliged them to form part of a basic cable package and earn low basic fees. From August 1, Multicanal and Cablevision subscribers with set-top boxe
  • ICAA hands out $2.6m to

    Spain's government-backed Institute for Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) has unveiled its latest round of funding for new directors and "experimental works of distinct artistic and cultural content."Some 14 projects will share funds worth a total of $2.6m (PTS450m). The projects include seven feature films, one animated film, one "experimental" film and five documentaries.Among the projects selected for subsidies are: Madridbarcelona (Gerardo Gormenzano)
  • Imax puts itself on the block

    Pioneering giant-screen entertainment company, Imax Corp, has hired investment firms Goldman Sachs and Wasserstein, Perella & Co to advise it on sale or merger opportunities. The company's share price jumped 18% to $26.50 yesterday on the news.In a prepared statement, co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler said: "Our priority is to maximize Imax's long-term business potential for the benefit of its shareholders, employees, customers and the viewing public and we believe tha
  • Innocence

    Dir: Paul Cox. Australia-Belgium. 2000. 91mins.Prod cos: Strand/New OZ Productions and Showtime in assoc. with the South Australian Film Corp; Illumination Films in assoc. with Cinete. Worldwide sales:, tel: (1) 416 3636060. Producers: Cox, Mark Patterson. Scr: Cox. DoP: Tony Clark, Jan Vancaillie. Prod des: Tony Cronin. Ed: Simon Whittington. Music: Paul Grabowsky. Main cast: Julia Blake, Charles Tingwell, Terry Norris.The new film from prolific independe
  • Innocence takes FIPRESCI prize at Taormina

    US specialised distributor Winstar Cinema will tour a retrospective of 11 features and two shorts directed by Eric Rohmer in brand new prints across the country starting next year. "Tales Of Rohmer" will form also form the centrepiece of a more extensive retrospective being planned at New York City's Film Forum from Feb 9 to Mar 15, 2001.The package will travel to over 30 North American cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC and San Francisco.Among the f
  • Israeli culture ministry unveils film commission

    The Israeli culture ministry has launched a film commission which will be responsible for regulating all cinema activities in the country once the long-gestating Cinema Law has been passed. Film professionals are not allowed to run the commission under Israeli law, due to potential conflicts of interest, leading to cries of protest in the local film industry. The commission's chairman, Eli Zohar, is a respected lawyer who has sat on various public boards but has little contact with the
  • Itochu launches internet distribution venture

    Japan's Itochu trading house is setting up a joint venture with as-yet-unnamed partners to distribute films via the internet starting early next year.Called eMovie (Japan), the new company is capitalised at $280,000 (Y30m) and Itochu projects annual sales of $47m (Y5bn) by 2003. The company will acquire digital versions of about 300 film titles, mainly in the action and horror genres, of which it will offer nearly 100 on its web-site - www.emov
  • Jiang banned for seven years by China

    Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen has been banned from making films for seven years by the Chinese Film Bureau. His film Devils At The Doorstep (Guizi Lai Le), about China during the time of Japanese occupation, was judged as insufficiently patriotic. Jiang, who starred in several films by Zhang Yimou and turned director with 1994's In The Heat Of The Sun (Yangguang Canlan De Rizi), is banned from appearing on film or TV for seven years and is not allowed to direct or prod
  • Kin

    Dir: Elaine Proctor. South Africa-UK. 2000. 90 mins.Prod co: Bard Entertainments. Co-prods: BSkyB, British Screen, Arts Council of England. Int'l Sales: Regent Entertainment Int'l (001 310 260 3333). Exec prod: Miles Donnelly. Prod: Margaret Matheson. Scr: Proctor. Dop: Amelia Vincent. Prod des: Mark Wilby. Ed: Nicholas Gaster. Music: Justin Adams. Main cast: Miranda Otto, Isaiah Washington, Chris Chameleon, Moses Kandjoze.Intelligently conceived and magnificently shot,
  • Kinowelt expands into Poland with Best Film

    German mini-studio Kinowelt has launched a joint distribution venture with Poland's Best Film, confirming the company's intention to set up its own distribution operations across Eastern Europe (Screendaily, January 19).The new venture, Best Film International, is expected to take over as distributor of all Kinowelt's films in Poland and to have operations that range from theatrical release to home entertainment and rights licensing. It will be 51% owned by Kinowelt and is expec
  • Lend Lease takes hit on Fox Studios investment

    Lend Lease Corporation, which half-owns Sydney's Fox Studios Australia, has made a provision of $47m (A$80m) after tax to cover its losses from the failure of the 19-month-old Backlot, one of three distinct parts of the studio and entertainment development. It will also make an appropriate write-down of the value of the investment.The company signalled such a move in March but announced to the Australian Stock Exchange today that: "the Backlot has continued to trade well below budget"
  • Lions Gate posts net loss despite revenue gains

    Vancouver-based Lions Gate Entertainment is improving its performance but the company's investment in Mandalay Pictures continues to drag it down. According to financial results for the year ended March 31, 2000, the company posted a 129% increase in revenue, from $79.8m (C$118.3m) to $183m (C$271m), and a 110% increase in gross profit from $15.5m (C$23m) to $32.7m (C$48.4m). However, the bottom line saw a net loss, including the company's equity pick up of the non-cash operating loss in Mand
  • Lions Gate seals US deal on Cannes closer Stardom

    Lions Gate Films has acquired US rights to Denys Arcand's Stardom, the closing night film at this year's Cannes Film Festival, from Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Group and production company Serendipity Point Films. Stardom has also been selected to open the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept 7 this year.The film - Arcand's first since the little seen Joyeux Calvaire in 1996 - is a comic look at the world of celebrity and features newcomer Jessica Pare
  • M:I2 blasts into UK chart

    Mission: Impossible 2 proved its blockbuster weight when it opened in the UK over the weekend (July 7-9) grossing $6.27m (£4.14m) from 461 sites, excluding previews of $725,876 (£479,411). Although healthy, it was not enough to push it into the UK's top 10 opening weekend chart despite playing on around 650 screens. In comparison, Tom Cruise's first caper as Ethan Hunt - released exactly four years ago - grossed $5.72m (£3.78m) excluding previews of $578,890 (£382,333) from 408
  • Matt LeBlanc cast in Atlantic Streamline war pic

    Friends star Matt LeBlanc is to head the cast of All The Queen's Men, a $15m German-set comedic drama set in World War II which is being produced by Atlantic Streamline.Bernd Eichinger's Constantin Film has taken rights in German-speaking Europe to the film which is being directed by Stephan Ruzowitsky and produced by Marco Weber, Gabrielle Kelly and Zachary Feuer. Shooting will begin on Aug 3 in Budapest and Vienna. Co-producers are Dor Film in Austria, Arri in Germany and Pho
  • Media Most film arm feels political heat

    The continuing financial and political troubles of Vladimir Gusinsky's Media Most Group has spilled over into its film production outfit NTV Profit. Speaking at a press conference in Karlovy Vary this week Igor Tolstunov, general director of NTV Profit, revealed that police had visited his office in Moscow last week.Media Most's headquarters in Moscow were raided in May and the group's director Vladimir Gusinsky was arrested and imprisoned for three days last month (Screend
  • Media Park woos US, European majors

    Spanish content producer and packager Media Park has initiated talks with "various American and European majors" to find a new international shareholder before the end of the year.Sources at Media Park say the talks form part of a two-fold strategy to collaborate with majors on TV channels for the Spanish market, and further the company's international standing. The move is expected to be followed in early 2001 by Media Park's IPO.Although the sources would not point to any spe
  • Metrodome beefs up slate with Vampire, HAL titles

    UK distributor Metrodome Distribution has acquired a raft of titles including the critically well-received Shadow Of The Vampire and Miramax International's About Adam and Elephant Juice.Metrodome head of distribution Rupert Preston has also acquired Sundance title Chuck And Buck from Summit Entertainment and UK comedy Sorted, which was picked up as part of the distributor's distribution partnership with UK financier Future Film Group.Shadow
  • Miramax, Affleck, Damon launch writing contest

    Miramax Films, Miramax Television, HBO and Good Will Hunting writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are teaming up to launch a US contest in which a totally unknown writer will have his or her screenplay greenlit.Starting in the summer, anyone in the US can submit a screenplay electronically to The winner will be paid by Miramax to direct the feature film; Damon, Affleck and Chris Moore (co-producer of Good Will Hunting) will executive produce the
  • Moscow to close with Storm, premiere Disease

    Wolfgang Peterson's The Perfect Storm will close the Moscow International Film Festival (July 19-29) which will also boast world premieres of Life As A Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease, directed by Krzysztof Zanussi, and Gleb Panfilov's The Romanovs -The Imperial Family.The festival is becoming an annual event for the first time in its 43-year history from this year and is also launching a market focusing on European and Russian product.Theo Angelopolos ha
  • Oz pay-TV falls short on local drama spend

    Only two of Australia's 17 pay-TV drama channels complied with voluntary requirements to spend 10% of their annual programming budget on local drama in 1998-99, according to the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA). The only two that did comply were The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, which are both aimed at children. The offending channels will not be penalised if they meet the requirement in the 12 months to June 30, 2000, which should be known by the end of the year. Legis
  • Paramount signs two-pic deal with M:I2 star Polson

    Paramount Pictures has signed a two-picture deal with Australian actor-director John Polson, who stars alongside Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2.The first project under the deal is an untitled New York-set dark comedy from scriptwriter William Mapother, which is housed at Cruise's Cruise-Wagner Productions. Polson has a high profile in Australia despite only having directed one picture, Siam Sunset, which made $412,000 (A$700,000) when it was released by UIP la
  • Passover Fever to open Oz's first Israeli fest

    Shemi Zarhin's epic comedy-drama Passover Fever (1995) has been chosen to open Australia's first Israeli Film Festival, to take place in Canberra from August 4-10.Israeli writer-director Joseph Pitchhadze will introduce the festival with a screening of his road movie Under Western Eyes (1996), part of a five-hour seminar examining representations of Israeli culture through its cinema. The festival is a joint venture between ScreenSound, the country's national film
  • Production report: HK strives for pan-Asian appeal

    The running joke at the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum in April was that the only Asian country producing films of a lower quality than Hong Kong was Macau. The huge success at the Hong Kong box office this year of Nakata Hideo's Japanese psycho-horror Ring ($4m) and Kang Je-gyu's Korean blockbuster Shiri ($750,000) has forced the industry to accept that Hollywood is not the only threat to local product. Hong Kong producers are tackling the problem by adopting Japan
  • Regulators vie for Vivendi Universal action

    Such is the enthusiasm to get a piece of the Vivendi Universal deal that a spat appears to be developing between Europe's competition regulators. But Vivendi still believes that the deal will be greenlit sooner rather than later.The European Commission - the executive arm of the European Union - today insisted that it has exclusive powers to review the merger between Canal Plus, its parent Vivendi and Seagram. That warning came even though the Commission has yet to be officially notifi
  • Reid Sullivan named CFO at Village Roadshow Pics

    Reid Sullivan - who for the last five years was responsible for all strategic planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting at Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) - has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer at LA-based Village Roadshow Pictures.He will be responsible for all the classic accounting and financial functions, as well as working closely with chairman and CEO Bruce Berman and COO Steve Krone on strategic issues as well as the
  • S.O.S. leads nods for Norway's Amanda Awards

    Thomas Robsahm's S.O.S. leads the field in the nominations for the Norwegian Amanda Awards - Norway's equivalent of the Oscars - picking up nods for best picture, best actress and the pan-Nordic Amanda Award. S.O.S., an Italian-language comedy produced by Norway's Seperanza Film, was nominated twice in the best actress category for both Kjersti Holmen, who was also nominated for Sophie's World, and Jacqueline Lustig.The awards ceremony will be broadcast live
  • Scarfies sweeps New Zealand film awards

    Scarfies dominated New Zealand's film awards on July 1 winning the best producer award which went to Lisa Chatfield, best director for Robert Sarkies, best writer for Sarkies and his brother Duncan Sarkies and best female actor which went to Willa O'Neill.Scarfies was the debut film for the entire creative team and grossed NZ$1.2m in its local market to become the seventh biggest local hit of all time. Meanwhile Cliff Curtis won the best actor award for his perform
  • Scary Movie

    Dir: Keenen Ivory Wayans. US. 2000. 88 mins.Prod cos: Wayans Bros Entertainment, Gold-Miller, Brad Grey Pictures. US dist: Dimension Films. Int'l sales: Miramax International (+ 1 212 219 4100). Exec prods: Brad Grey, Peter Safran, Bo Zenga, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Cary Granat, Peter Schwerin. Prods: Eric L Gold, Lee R Mayes. Scr: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer. DoP: Francis Kenny. Prod des: Lawrence F Pevec. Ed: Mar
  • Sleeper hit holds strong against Dragon

    Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had a sleepy opening last week accumulating a modest $1m (HK$7.1m) from 44 screens in its first eight days on release. Despite the presence of Hong Kong star Chow Yun-fat and the popular Michelle Yeoh, this only gave Crouching Tiger a screen average of $22,727 per screen. Its opening day gross on July 6 was similarly disappointing, grossing $0.1m (HK$1,099,370) from 42 screens.The mediocre box office of the Columbia TriStar and Edk
  • Sogecable taps Campo as assistant general director

    Spanish multimedia group Sogecable has appointed Ignacio Campo as assistant general director.A Harvard-trained economist, Campo, 38, has worked with companies such as General Motors, Grupo Transafrica and Ocean Group PLC. He will work alongside Sogecable general director Carlos Abad.In addition, Melcior Soler has been appointed general director of Sogecable's sports television rights broker, Gestsport. He was formerly head of acquisitions for Gestsport and prior to that director
  • Soldier video game falls foul of BC ratings board

    Soldier Of Fortune, a CD-ROM based video game featuring the anguished cries and death-throes of its victims, has been rated as adult-only entertainment by British Columbia's film classification board. The ruling bans sale or rental of the game within the province to people under 18 and means the game's Canadian distributor, Beamscope Canada, will have to withdraw the product from retailers so that it can be labelled accordingly. Other provinces are not affected by the rul
  • Spain's Ono to pump $1.7bn into expanding network

    Spain's nascent cable industry is set for a major tranche of investment as local cable operator Ono (Cableuropa) has unveiled plans to invest $1.7bn (PTS300,000m) over the next five years to expand its broadband network into new regions of Spain.The company, which said it plans to build "one of the best and biggest fibre optic networks in Spain", also confirmed rumours that it may launch an IPO before the end of the year.The initial expansion targets businesses in Madrid, Sevill
  • Spanish production surges as b.o. reaches new high

    The Spanish film sector had one of its strongest years in over a decade in 1999 according to Spanish producers association FAPAE's annual report. Spain produced 82 features during the year - the second highest number in 15 years. Of these, 74 obtained theatrical distribution, the second highest level in 12 years.In addition, Spanish audiences turned out in record-breaking droves for both domestic and international films in 1999. Admissions surged to 130 million, the highest number sinc
  • Swiss culture ministry's film coffers run dry

    Switzerland's production community has been hit by the news that the Swiss culture ministry (BAK) has already committed its entire $4.7m (SFr7.6m) annual budget for film production and development funding only halfway through the year.BAK director David Streiff explained at press conference in Berne that the overspend is due to a rapid increase in the number of Swiss feature projects seeking public funding. Ironically, a raft of public initiatives, launched in recent years to su
  • Telecinco inks distribution pact with Buena Vista

    Spanish broadcaster Telecinco has signed a ground-breaking distribution deal with Buena Vista International Spain (BVIS), which gives the expanding channel theatrical and video outlets for its independently acquired films.The deal follows Telecinco's landmark entry into all-rights acquisitions this May with the signing of a five-year, 10-picture pact with US indie producer Joseph Singer (Screendaily, May 24). The broadcaster followed the Singer deal last month with an output agr
  • UIP's gamble pays off

    Setting what other distributors will hope is a precedent, Mission: Impossible 2 has broken the spell of the summer cinema slump in Italy. Grossing $2.5m from 456 screens and going straight to the top of the chart, M:I2 recorded an unheard of success in the month of July when most cinemas close up for the summer. Taking 15 times as much as Gladiator at number two in the chart, M:I2 recorded a third best opening for UIP in Italy and the second highest
  • United Artists shuts down London sales operation

    London-based United Artists Films, spearheaded by Wendy Palmer and Fiona Mitchell, is being shut down over the next few months as a foreign sales division by its parent studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In its place will come a new UK-based production operation that may revolve around some of the existing UAF staff.From November 1st, all specialty films either acquired, produced or co-financed by MGM under the United Artists label will be released overseas through 20th Century Fox as part of
  • Warner to release Exorcist with missing reel

    Warner Bros Pictures will release a new version of The Exorcist in North America on Sept 22. Entitled The Exorcist - The Version You've Never Seen, it will include more than one reel of long-rumoured footage which was omitted from the film's original release in 1973.The film's director William Friedkin has restored the reel and the new version also incorporates a digitally remastered and remixed soundtrack with new sound effects, atmospheric sounds and music. The origina
  • X-Men

    Dir: Bryan Singer. US. 1999. 96 mins.Prod co: 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment Group, The Donners' Company/Bad Hat Harry. Dist: Fox. Prods: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter. Exec prods: Avi Arad, Stan Lee, Richard Donner, Tom DeSanto. Scr: David Hayter. DoP: Newton Thomas Sigel. Prod des: John Myhre. Ed: Steven Rosenblum, Kevin Stitt, John Wright. Music: Michael Kamen. Main cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Da