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16 March 2000

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  • American Beauty dominates SAG, DGA Awards

    Hollywood's final round of awards ceremonies before the Oscars took place over the weekend, and they were almost totally dominated by American Beauty. The DreamWorks film now looks set for a sweep at the Academy Awards on March 26.The film's British director Sam Mendes continued his winning streak, taking top honours at the Directors Guild Of America (DGA) Awards on Saturday. Mendes, who also won the Golden Globe, is now the clear frontrunner to win the Oscar.And at the Screen
  • American Beauty passes $100m international mark

    DreamWorks SKG's American Beauty has crossed the $100m barrier at the overseas box office, eclipsing its domestic gross which currently stands at $93m. At Thursday, the multi Oscar nominee and favourite to win Best Picture had taken $103,071,004 outside North America. To date it has opened in most key territories with the exception of Japan.The movie is handled in international territories by UIP through DreamWorks' international distribution agreement with UIP partner Universal
  • BBC signs deal with India's Broadcast Worldwide

    BBC Worldwide has licensed the BBC branded block BBC Exclusive to India''s Broadcast Worldwide, the proposed network founded by former Star India CEO Rathikant Basu. Rupert Murdoch''s News Corp has a 5% stake in Broadcast Worldwide.The BBC Exclusive brand will be broadcast on the Broadcast Worldwide network in Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Bengali. The network will broadcast the block five days a week for the next three years.
  • BBC, Indigo's Warriors racks up RTS nods

    Warriors, by BBC Films and Single Drama and UK production outfit Deep Indigo Productions, has secured a clutch of nominations for the UK's annual Royal Television Society awards, including best single drama.The production for BBC1 about the war in the former Yugoslavia also secured nods for male actor, production team and the writer's award. Also vying for honours in the single drama category at the awards ceremony on March 21 are Dockers, a Parallax Pictures and Initiati
  • Biondi, Chen tip in for Reelplay financing

    US virtual market player has raised $4.5m from Hollywood and Silicon Valley as it closed a second round of financing led by Japan''s Softbank Venture Capital. Amongst the equity investors are former Viacom chief Frank Biondi''s Waterview Advisors and Pehong Chen, president and CEO of Broadvision. Launched last year Reelplay is one of several online enterprises looking to tap the business-to-business film market. Biondi is also an investor in web-based short film dis
  • Bzz, Suburbanites win at Brussels Animation fest

    Short animated features Bzz, directed by Benoit Feroumont, and Suburbanites, directed by Stefan Vermeulen, emerged as the big winners at the Brussels Animation Festival (Feb 29 - March 11).Bzz was awarded the First Prize from the French-speaking community, worth BFr100,000, and the Freezeframe prize, worth BFr150,000. Vermeulen's Suburbanites picked up the First Prize from the Flemish-speaking community, also worth BFr100,000 and an award from Flemish state
  • Caine to receive BAFTA fellowship award

    Academy Award-winning actor Michael Caine is to receive this year's Fellowship Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).The award, last year bestowed upon actress Elizabeth Taylor, will be presented at the BAFTA film awards ceremony on April 9 at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.Caine, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor in Hannah And Her Sisters, is currently nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for best supporting actor in The Cider H
  • Canada's CTV accepts BCE takeover

    Canada''s largest broadcaster CTV has accepted a takeover offer from telco giant BCE in a deal worth approximately $1.57bn (C$2.3bn) having held out for an extra $20m. The factor clinching the deal was BCE''s offer to buy outright CTV shareholder Electrohome Broadcasting, which owns a 12% stake, for $185m. Electrohome executives had earlier expressed concern about the tax implications of the all-cash deal (Screendaily March 6); the absolute buy-out seems to have soothed concerns
  • Cinar woes continue with fresh revelations

    The beleaguered Cinar Corp issued a warning late Friday that its financial statements for fiscal 1997, 1998 and the three reported quarters of 1999 "should not be relied upon".The company said in a news release that it "appears likely" that its audited financial statements will need to be restated for reasons related to "tax incentives and the disclosure of related party transactions".The latest bombshell comes after a string of damaging events for Cinar over the last two weeks,
  • CineMedia set to board Becker studio project

    Aggressively-expanding German post-production group, CineMedia, is in talks to co-produce a $65-75m adaptation of an unnamed best-selling novel, to be directed by City Hall director Harold Becker.The move marks CineMedia's first foray into international feature production and brings the Munich-based company one step closer to its stated aim of becoming a fully integrated media concern. The Becker project, a German-US co-production which is being adapted by Ronin sc
  • Critics' Week confirms Bellyful premiere

    The Critics' Week section of the Cannes film festival has confirmed that Melvin van Peebles film Bellyful (Le Conte Du Ventre Plein) will get its world premiere at a special screening.The Critics Week (May 11-19) said the decision to programme van Peebles' picture is "the first of a new kind, which confirms through actions, the desire of the Critics Week founders to support works and auteurs which escape the ordinary." It is the first public move by Jose Maria Riba, who t
  • Czech festival to host Ondricek, Hrebejk premieres

    Czech film festival "Finale" will screen 18 new features at this year''s event (April 10-16) including the international premieres of David Ondricek''s Recluses and We Have To Help Each Other by acclaimed young Czech director Jan Hrebejk who scored a domestic box office hit last year with Cosy Dens.The Pilsen-based festival, currently the Czech Republic''s biggest showcase for domestic fare, will also feature young Czech director Alice Nellis'' Ene Bene. Oth
  • Czech Television renews production vows

    State broadcaster Czech Television (CTV) has confirmed that it will continue in its role as the Czech Republic''s biggest backer of local features, despite management changes and political disputes that have recently rocked the channel. "We will remain a major producer of Czech films," said Denisa Strbova, head of CTV division Telexport. "Our new director Dusan Chmelicek wants to continue with the positive things achieved by his predecessors, one of which was film production."St
  • Damon takes control of Behaviour

    International sales specialist Mark Damon is taking control of troubled Montreal production and distribution entity Behaviour Communications, potentially halting the piece-meal disintegration of what was once one of Canada''s leading entertainment companies. In a last-ditch rescue operation, Damon, who heads of LA-based Behaviour Worldwide, is converting $5.7m owed him by Behaviour into shares representing a 60% stake. Behaviour chairman Richard Szalwinski and vice-chairman Bernard Leg
  • David Adamson rejoins ICM LA

    LA-based New Zealander David Adamson has rejoined International Creative Management (ICM) as a talent agent in the motion picture department. Adamson was most recently at Hoflund-Polone where his clients include Emily Mortimer, Kathy Baker, Judith Godreche, Alan Rickman and British comedy duo Armstrong & Miller.The announcement was made by Eddy Yablans, head of motion picture department at ICM.Adamson moved to the US in 1992 serving as a campaign consultant for Ross Perot's pr
  • David Koh joins Palm as acquisitions chief

    David Koh has been named head of acquisitions and co-productions for Palm Pictures' theatrical and DVD/home video divisions. He will also work closely with, an entertainment-based website also founded by Palm chief Chris Blackwell.Koh was previously an acquisitions and co-production executive at WinStar/Fox Lorber where he acquired film and TV programming for WinStar's domestic and international labels. Titles acquired included Ponette, Violent Cop, La Vie De Jesus and Wi
  • Dunaway to chair Festival de Paris jury

    Faye Dunaway will chair the jury of the 15th Festival de Paris film festival (March 27 - April 3), which specialises in first and second efforts. Nine titles will be competing this year, including two US titles - Alison Maclean's Jesus' Son and Marc Levin's White Boys - France's Drole De Felix and Andre Le Magnifique, Israel's Autour De Yana (directed by Arik Kaplun), Norway's Bloody Angels (Karin Julsrud) Italy's Come Te Nessuno Mai (Gr
  • Eagle buys two-picture package from Summit

    Newly recapitalised Italian distributor Eagle Pictures has sealed a two picture deal with leading LA sales agent Summit Entertainment for horror picture The Calling and Artisan Entertainment comedy Novocaine starring Steve Martin and Helena Bonham Carter.Summit's Patrick Wachsberger implied that the deal would signal a longterm relationship with Eagle, which received a boost earlier this year when private equity financier B&S Private Equity Group took a 20% stake. Eagle is also planni
  • Eurimages unveils new funding round

    Eurimages, the European production finance body, has made its first round of funding decisions since changing its rules at the beginning of the year.At a three-day funding round (March 6-8), the Council of Europe-backed organisation said that it is investing a total of $3.8m (Euros3.95m) to back ten features. Decisions were made according to two revised sets of criteria: the potential for international distribution; and the cultural and economic diversity of European cinema.Awar
  • Goldman's Hombre set to conquer US

    Former New Line marketing and distribution president, Mitch Goldman, and his partner Lou O'Neil have launched a US Latino distribution company - Hombre de Oro - to distribute Mexican box office hit The Other Conquest (La Otra Conquista) in the US. Although the company has been set up to handle one title, Goldman said he hopes to "pick up other Latino films in the future'. And separately, Goldman plans to launch another domestic distribution company to handle a wider range of ind
  • India's Penta in talks with Digital Domain

    Indian computer graphics and animation company Penta Media and US-based Digital Domain are in talks about creating a joint venture.Although details of the talks are not public, the two companies are understood to be discussing both a technical and financial alliance.Meanwhile Penta and Silicon Valley-based 3D animation company 3Dmax Media have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a $5m facility in India. The two companies have also announced plans to produce a 90-mi
  • Israeli Cinematheques plan Loach retrospective

    Three Israeli Cinematheques - Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa - will launch one of their most ambitious programmes in April - an extensive retrospective of the work of UK director Ken Loach.Fully supported by the British Council, the programme features some 22 titles directed by Loach, spanning his feature films, TV series and single dramas. A recent Faber & Faber book, Loach On Loach, edited by Graham Fuller, will be released in Hebrew translation to coincide with the retrospective.
  • Kirch Group sets up holding company

    German media mogul Leo Kirch has put the final pieces of Kirch Group''s restructuring in place. As of April 1, former KirchVermogensVerwaltungs assumes a new role, and user-friendlier name, when, as KirchHolding, it becomes the central holding company. At the same time, the three managing directors of the Kirch Group subsidiaries, Dieter Hahn, Jan Mojto and Klaus Piette will join KirchHolding''s board. Leo Kirch, who has until now been KirchVermogensVerwaltungs'' sole managing director
  • Kodak to co-develop digital projection system

    Eastman Kodak has etched itself firmly in the digital cinema arena with the announcement yesterday (March 8) that it has forged an alliance with QUALCOMM Inc. and JVC in developing a prototype digital projection system.QUALCOMM's expertise in the compression and encryption techniques together with JVC's advanced projection chip technology will be used in testing and developing a digital end-to-end system at Kodak's new Imaging Technology Center in Hollywood. This agreement comes
  • Lions Gate brings home Canadian distribution

    Lions Gate Entertainment has restructured its television division as well as the Canadian arms of its production and theatrical distribution outfits, where the company has brought sales functions back in-house after a two-year service agreement with Alliance Atlantis'' distribution subsidiary, Odeon Films. The following personnel were promoted in the restructuring: Kaela Sheine to vice president, Television Distribution, including responsibility for US TV sales; John Bain to vice presi
  • Loews, Israeli Theatres expand into Poland

    Poland has become the latest hot spot for multiplex development with two international cinema chains - the US' Loews Cineplex International and Israel's IT International Theatres - unveiling plans to expand into the territory.IT, known in its home territory as Israeli Theatres, is using the proceeds from its recent IPO to build 150 screens in 10-15 multiplexes in Poland over the next three years. The first project - set to open in August - is a 3,000-seat, 12-screen multiplex in Warsaw
  • Making Love (Canone Inverso)

    Prod co: Cecchi Gori. Domestic dist (It): Cecchi Gori. Int''l sales: Cecchi Gori (Farouk Alatan (+39 06 324721). Prod: Vittorio Cecchi Gori . Exec prod: Mario Cotone for Pacific Pictures. Scr: Graziano Diana, Simona Izzo, Ricky Tognazzi, from the book Canone Inverso by Paolo Maurensig. DoP: Fabio Cianchetti. Prod des: Francesco Bronzi. Editor: Carla Simoncelli. Music: Ennio Moricone. Main cast: Hans Matheson, Melanie Thierry, Lee Williams, Gabriel Byrne, Ricky Tognazzi, Peter Vaughan, Nia
  • Marlene disappoints in Germany

    After a glitzy premiere on March 9, the highly-anticipated German biopic Marlene failed to ignite either the critics or the box office in its home territory. Released on 420 prints, Joseph Vilsmaier's Marlene grossed $0.7m in its opening four days falling into fifth place below the release of Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday. Constantin's release of Sleepy Hollow kept its place at the top of the chart for the third week running and has taken $6.3m afte
  • Marshal

    Dir: Vinko Bresan. Croatia. 1999. 97 mins.Prod cos: Interfilm, HRT. Int'l sales: Interfilm (+385 1 4667 290). Prods: Ljubo Sikic, Ivan Maloca. Prod representative: Ernest Kalamar. Scr: Ivo and Vinko Bresan. DoP: Zivko Zalar. Main cast: Drazen Kuhn, Lidija Bregonja, Ivo Gregurevic, Ilija Ivezic.Vinko Bresan's witty insights into post-Civil War Croatia have a broad and devoted audience at home. Marshal, which was shown in the Forum section of this year's Berlin Film
  • Midem confirms no MIP Asia for 2000

    The MIP Asia TV programme market will not take place this year in the December slot that it has occupied for the last six years.The Reed Midem Organisation, which also operates the MIPTV and MIPCOM markets, said that MIP Asia will re-appear in December 2001. But it did not reveal a location for the event which has previously been held in Singapore and Hong Kong. Midem said that the decision not to hold a market this year had been taken after analysing survey results. These indic
  • Minghella poised to climb next mountain

    The following Q&A appeared in Screen International, the weekly, on March 3, in the run-up to ShoWest where Minghella was awarded director of the year.British writer-director Anthony Minghella began his career in radio, television and theatre in the 1980s before making his first feature, supernatural drama Truly Madly Deeply for the BBC in 1991. He followed this with the romantic comedy Mr Wonderful for the Samuel Goldwyn Co in 1993. However, it was not until The
  • Mission To Mars takes off with $23m

    Marking the first mega-budget blockbuster in the marketplace since Christmas, Buena Vista's $75m space epic Mission To Mars opened with a mighty $23.1m despite uniformly negative reviews across North America. Directed by Brian DePalma, the film, which is the story of a rescue mission to the red planet, beat a rival Mars project to the screen - Warner Bros/Village Roadshow Pictures' Red Planet will now open in November. It was launched on 3,054 screens for a strong screen average
  • Murdoch to visit Indian politicians

    Rupert Murdoch will visit India for five days from March 12 to review the expansion of Star TV. The News Corp boss was facing an arrest warrant in India until recently because a participant on the Nikki Tonight show, broadcast on Star, had abused Indian icon Mahatma Gandhi.The visit will be Murdoch's third trip to India and will take in Bombay, Delhi and India's silicon capital Hyderabad, where News Corp-owned eVentures is launching a joint venture capital fund Indian businessma
  • Murdoch unveils plans to pump up Indian investment

    Rupert Murdoch''s News Corp is planning a fresh investment of several hundred million dollars in India''s television and information technology markets, including the launch of a raft of new channels to add to Star TV''s present line-up.Murdoch, who is currently on a five-day tour of India, announced plans to add six more regional-language channels to the News Corp-owned Star TV platform. News Corp is also searching for potential partners in several other TV and IT-related ventures, de
  • Next Friday opens well as top four hold strong

    With Toy Story 2 still rooted in the UK's number one slot and Three Kings, The Green Mile and The Talented Mr Ripley holding over for the second week in second, third and fourth place, competition for box office dollar among the weekend's openers was intense. But it was Entertainment's Next Friday (pictured) starring Ice Cube which came off best on a screen average basis. The sequel to New Line's 1995 release Friday took £187,378 from just 50 s
  • Norway's producers call for end to cinema monopoly

    The Norwegian Film and TV Producers Society (NFTPS) has called for the abolishment of legislation which allows local authorities to control the handing out of licences to run cinemas in Norway.Under Norway''s 1913 Cinema Act, local councils are the are only bodies with the power to grant cinema licences - and as local councils also operate most of Norway''s cinemas - several sectors of the industry are claiming a major conflict of interest.Industry opposition to the local counci
  • One And Only cleans up at Denmark's Bodils

    In a near carbon copy of the Danish Film Academy's recent Robert Awards (Screendaily March 3), the Danish film critics have handed three of their top Bodil Awards to Susanne Bier's The One and Only (Den Eneste Ene).The film walked away with best picture, best actress for Sidse Babett Knudsen and best supporting actress for Paprika Steen, while once again Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's Silver Bear-winner Mifune (Mifunes Sidste Sang) had to contend with the best supporting a
  • PentaMedia forms joint venture with Digital Domain

    Indian computer graphics company PentaMedia Graphics and US digital effects powerhouse Digital Domain have created a 50:50 joint venture to develop feature-length special effects-driven pictures for the international market. Further details of the venture, which will be based in Hollywood, will be announced in May. However Chennai (Madras)-based PentaMedia said it is close to finalising a $60m American Depositary Receipts issue to fund the venture. News emerged earlier in the we
  • Pogachefsky honoured at LA Indie Fest

    LA-based independent PR specialist Mark Pogachefsky and the Film Division of his mPRm Public Relations will receive the fifth annual Indie Supporter Award at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival which takes place April 13-18 in Los Angeles.The award, presented annually to individuals who have provided an extraordinary contribution to the independent film-making community, has previously been bestowed on, among others, exhibitors Robert and Greg Laemmle and actor Eric Stoltz.
  • Production Show: Producers slam UK broadcasters

    UK broadcasters were accused of undermining the creation of a sustainable local film industry by a line-up of leading producers, financiers and international sales agents at The Production Show in London on Wednesday.The broadcasters came under fire at the Movie Days conference, hosted by Screen International at The Production Show event run by its publisher, EMAP Media. The major broadcasters - the publicly-owned BBC, parent company of BBC Films, commercial broadcaster C
  • Scotland's Italian fest fetes Taviani Brothers

    Scotland's Italian Film Festival (April 14-23), which takes place in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, will host a tribute to the work of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, to include a restored print of their 1984 film Kaos.The festival will also screen the Taviani Brothers' 1977 Padre, Padrone, Good Morning Babylon (1986) and Il Sole Anche Di Notte (1990). The brothers are expected to attend the event . The festival's programme of new materi
  • ShoWest: Fox puts spotlight on five summer flicks

    20th Century Fox chose to focus just on its five summer movies at its luncheon today (Thursday) at Showest in Las Vegas.Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Bill Mechanic introduced trailers for animated epic Titan AE (June 16), Martin Lawrence-starrer Big Momma's House (June 2), The Farrelly Brothers' latest comedy Me Myself And Irene (June 23), comic book action adventure X-Men (July 14) and Bedazzled starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley (Aug 11).Of all the films on offer
  • ShoWest: Sony 2000 film line-up dazzles exhibitors

    Sony Pictures Entertainment dazzled exhibitors at Showest today (Wednesday) with a lavish presentation of its movies in the year 2000 and a host of attending stars including Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Muhammad Ali and the Charlie's Angels themselves - Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu.Introduced by SPE's worldwide distribution chief Jeff Blake, the showreel was greeted warmly by exhibitors in particular the teaser for Charlie's Angels, the trailers for Gibson-starrer Th
  • Silver Screen launches in expanding Polish market

    US-backed exhibitor Silver Screen Cinemas has opened its first multiplex in Warsaw marking the first phase of its ambitious plans to build a string of theatres across Eastern Europe.Silver Screen has an exclusive agreement to operate cinemas built by US-backed property developer Portico Development, which has multiplex cinemas currently under construction, in Gdynia, Gdansk, Krakow and Wroclaw, and plans to build another 15 multiplexes over the next three years.The eight-screen
  • Six US exhibitors team up in internet ticketing co

    A start-up North Amercian internet ticketing company founded by six major exhibitors was unveiled at ShoWest yesterday. With an initial investment of $30m, the landmark venture is expected to be the leading internet portal for remote ticketing as well as providing comprehensive movie information, reviews and trailers.The alliance between Loews Cineplex Entertainment (LCE), Regal Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, General Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and Century Theatres has exclusive rights to t
  • SKYPerfecTV issues shares to DirecTV shareholders

    The merger of Japanese satellite platforms SKYPerfecTV and DirecTV is proceeding to plan as the directors of Japan Digital Broadcasting Services, which operates SKYPerfecTV, have agreed to issue Y12bn ($113.2m) in new shares to broadcast satellite station WOWOW and seven corporate shareholders of DirecTV Japan. With the exception of Matsushita Electric, which has already acquired shares in SKYPerfecTV, the SKYPerfecTV stakes of DirecTV shareholders will amount to less than 1% each.
  • Smith appoints four to BFI board

    UK culture secretary Chris Smith has appointed Jenny Abramsky, Terry Ilott, David Kustow and Nasreen Munni Kabir to the board of governors of film and TV body the British Film Institute (BFI).Abramsky was appointed director of BBC Radio last year, while Ilott is a film and media analyst with the UK's Bridge Media. Kustow specialises in commercial investment and is a partner at law firm Olswang. Kabir is a producer-director whose credits include working with UK broadcaster Channel 4 on
  • Sony forms Internet venture with Toyota, Tokyu

    Sony is teaming up with Toyota Motor Corp and Tokyo-based private railway Tokyu Corp in a joint venture to provide broadband Internet services via cable TV.The venture, called AII Kikaku, will start operations as a planning company in early April with each of the partners providing an equal one-third share of the capital. Sony and Toyota have already linked with Internet service provider (ISP) Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) to launch a data transmission company targeting corporate cli
  • Sony Pictures launches new digital unit

    Sony Pictures Entertainment has formed a new business unit - Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment - which aims to align the studio's digital production activities with online content and game services.Yair Landau, previously executive vice president, corporate development and strategic planning, will be president of the new unit, reporting to SPE co-president Yuki Nozoe and SPE co-president and COO Mel Harris.The new unit will operate digital initiatives in three areas - superv
  • Spielberg to direct Kubrick's A.I. as next project

    Steven Spielberg has committed to directing two science fiction tales starting immediately with A.I. an epic about artificial intelligence that had been a long-gestating pet project of Stanley Kubrick''s before his death in 1999.A.I, which Kubrick had been actively developing before he suddenly shifted his attention to what would be his swansong film Eyes Wide Shut, will now start shooting under Spielberg''s direction on July 10 this year as a co-production between
  • Strand Releasing wins US rights to Suzhou

    Suzhou, the clandestinely-made Chinese film that became one of the hottest films at this year''s European Film Market in Berlin, has secured a US theatrical release through Strand Releasing.The Shanghai-set melodrama, which is the second feature by Chinese director Lou Ye, was produced on a budget of $600,000 by Essential Film Production and Dream Factory. It won the VPRO Tiger award at January''s Rotterdam festival and now has invitations to a further dozen festivals. Th
  • Suzhou

    Dir: Lou Ye. China-Germany. 1999. 83 mins.Prod cos: The Coproduction Office, Essential Film, Dream Factory. Int'l sales: The Coproduction Office (+49 30 3277 7879). Prods: Nai An, Philippe Bober. Scr: Lou Ye. DoP: Wang Yu. Prod des: Li Zhuoyi. Ed: Karl Riegl. Music: Jorg Lemberg. Main cast: Zhou Xun, Jia Hongsheng.Not exactly accomplished but sufficiently enticing for a Rotterdam Tiger Award, Lou Ye's second feature handles a complex plot with a fair amount of expertise
  • Swedish directing duo deliver third hit

    Swedish directing duo Maans Herngren and Hannes Holm flexed their box office muscle once again with their third film, Shit Happens (Det Blir Aldrig Som Man Taenkt Sig). After two weeks, the comedy, about a TV soap actress trying to juggle her family and professional life, has taken $1.2m and remains at the top of the Swedish chart, despite competition from American Beauty and The Talented Mr Ripley.Herngren and Holm's first hit, Adam And Eva (pictured), was
  • Telefonica grabs Venezuela's Chevere

    Terra Networks, the Internet subsidiary of Spanish telecommunications and media giant Telefonica, has acquired one of Venezuela''s top web portals, Chevere ( Terra aims to become the leading Internet provider for the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets and maintains web interests in seven countries in Latin America and the US.Terra''s move adds to umbrella organisation Telefonica''s growing telephony and media interests in the Latin American market. In Janua
  • Thomas The Tank Engine movie racks up sales

    With a head of steam at the AFM, family film Thomas And The Magic Railroad has been sold by Kathy Morgan International to a raft of territories including Germany where it has been picked up by Telemunchen.Other sales include South Africa (New Metro), Portugal (Eco Filmes) and the Middle East (Almassa). The film was previously sold to Icon Film Distribution for the UK and Australia''s ABC Films.Starring Alec Baldwin, Mara Wilson and Peter Fonda, the mixed live-action and m
  • Toy Story 2 conquers final frontier in Japan

    Winding up its global roll-out, blockbusting computer-generated animation Toy Story 2, scooped $3.8m on its opening weekend in Japan (March 11-13). The film's performance gives Buena Vista International the highest-opening US animated film in the territory, but was not enough to beat the distributor's record for Armageddon. It also pumps up the Disney/Pixar production's worldwide total to $432m, just three million shy of the box office total for Tarzan. Toy Sto
  • Tsujihara to head up Warner Bros New Media Ops

    Kevin Tsujihara has been named to the newly created position of executive vice president, new media, at Warner Bros, signalling an attempt by the studio to bring all of its new media initiatives under one overseer. Tsujihara will coordinate all new media activities within Warner - including Warner Bros Online and Entertaindom - as well as serving as Warner's point person with Time Warner Digital Media and America Online.His first order of business will be to oversee the dramat
  • Tsutaya changes meaning of video on demand

    Japan's Culture Convenience Club, which operates the Tsutaya video rental chain, has launched a service that allows customers to order videos and other software in advance, using mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo's i-mode Internet access technology. The service enables customers to order videos from Tsutaya's web-site through i-mode mobile phones for up to one month before release, which will then be delivered to customers' homes, as early as the day they go on sale. To start with, custo
  • Unapix taps Abramowitz for new US theatrical arm

    New York''s ambitious Unapix Entertainment has hired film marketing specialist Richard Abramowitz, most recently senior executive vice president of Carl Ichan's Stratosphere Entertainment, to spearhead the company''s new push into US theatrical releasing.As president of Unapix Films Theatrical, Abramowitz will oversee the release of six feature films over the next twelve months directly into domestic theatres. Previously, Unapix has partnered up with theatrical distributors such as Zei
  • UPC creates Euro giant with SBS takeover

    Europe is to get its first pan-European broadcast and Internet giant following the announcement that Dutch cable giant UPC has agreed terms for the acquisition of SBS Broadcasting. The deal, which has yet to be finalised and may require regulatory approval, values SBS at some $2.8bn in total. UPC's offer is a mixture of cash and stock and is equivalent to $85.14 per SBS share, which compares with a closing price of $60 yesterday.The acquisition is the extension of an alliance pr
  • Vicuna returns to feature production

    Veteran Spanish film executive Jose Vicuna has returned to feature film production after an almost ten-year hiatus, during which time he became president of rights and acquisitions house Sogepaq, a position he still holds. Through his independent Madrid-based production house Impala, Vicuna now has more than a dozen feature films, documentaries and television projects in various stages of production. Two Impala feature film co-productions are already shooting: Gitano, starring f
  • Water Drops On Burning Rocks

    Dir: Francois Ozon. France. 1999. 90 mins.Prod cos: Fidelite Productions, Les Films Alain Sarde. Int'l sales: Roissy Films-Celluloid Dreams (+33 1 4970 0370). Prods: Olivier Dubosc, Marc Missonier. Scr: Francois Ozon, based on a play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. DoP: Jeanne Lapoirie. Prod des: Arnaud de Moleron. Ed: Laurence Bawedin. Main cast: Bernard Giraudeau, Malick Zidi, Ludivine Sagnier, Anna Thompson.Though snubbed by the Berlinale jury, France's 'enfant terrible'
  • Wortmann makes US debut with Pleswin-backed comedy

    Sonke Wortmann, German director of Der Bewegte Mann, will make his US production debut with The Hollywood Sign which also marks the first US picture to be produced and financed by Dutch production outfit Pleswin Entertainment Group, a partnership between Eric Pleskow and Leon De Winter.Burt Reynolds, Rod Steiger and Tom Berenger star in the film which is scripted by de Winter who will also produce. Pleskow will act as executive producer.Pleswin is fully financing t