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16 March 2001

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  • Artisan drops IPO plans in favour of sale

    Four months after the disappointing performance of its Blair Witch Project sequel, once high-flying US independent Artisan Entertainment has withdrawn plans for its initial public offering (IPO) and brought in investment bankers to explore merger and sale options. In a statement, Artisan CEO Amir Malin said the company has "received a number of indications of interest regarding various strategic alternatives with the company. Although we are very excited about continuing to buil
  • Babelsberg hosts first Cartoon Movie Tributes

    The UK's Aardman Animation, Denmark's A.Film and Italian distributor Cecchi Gori are among the winners of the first 'Cartoon Movie Tributes' presented at this year's Cartoon Movie co-production market. While Aardman was honoured for the 'Best International Enterprise Strategy' in the making of Chicken Run, A.Film, producer of Help, I'm A Fish, was named the 'Company with the Strongest European Focus', and Cecchi Gori recognised for the 'Strongest involvement in an Animati
  • Beauty, Lights for Non Stop Films

    The 52nd Berlinale has announced the names of the eight members of the Official Competition's International Jury which will be headed this year by Indian director Mira Nair.They are: film author Peter Cowie (UK), director Lucrecia Martel (Argentina), producer Claudie Ossard (France), director Oskar Roehler (Germany), film reviewer Kenneth Turan (USA), director Raoul Peck (Haiti), actress Nicoletta Braschi (Italy), and director of photography Declan Quinn (USA).Meanwhile, the new
  • Blockbuster, Enron divorce creates VoD rivals

    Blockbuster Video and Enron are to set up rival video-on-demand (VoD) services, having ended their year-old partnership.The original deal (Screendaily, July 20) had envisaged a match between Blockbuster's marketing power and the distribution capacity provided energy giant Enron's broadband fibre-optic network. This already spans North America and is being expanded in Europe.But both sides now say that the other company had failed to address problems. Enron said that Blockbuster
  • Blow Dry

    Dir: Paddy Breathnach. US-UK. 2001. 91minsA large ensemble of talented actors, including Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson and Rachel Griffiths, is totally wasted in the disappointing comedy Blow Dry, written by The Full Monty screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy. Meant to be a funny satire of an annual British hairdressing championship, Blow Dry is actually a schmaltzy melodrama about the attempts to bring together the four disparate members of one family when
  • Brotherhood Of The Wolf

    Dir: Cristophe Gans. France. 2001. 143mins.Hailed as the prototype for a new genre-bending kind of popular European cinema, Brotherhood Of The Wolf is a crazy quilt of historical romance, horror movie, frontier saga, conspiracy thriller and martial arts actioner. One can only admire the sheer chutzpah of writer-director Christophe Gans, his indie producer Samuel Hadida and StudioCanal (which bankrolled 80% of the hefty $30m budget) for even daring to consider such an anachron
  • Cartel to make biopic of Spaniard on death row

    Spanish production outfit Cartel has announced plans to produce a film about Joaquin Jose Martinez, the Spaniard currently on death row in the United States accused of double murder.Writers Mercedes Segovia and Julia Montejo are now putting the final touches on the script. Cartel, headed by Eduardo Campoy, secured exclusive rights to the life story of Martinez, who maintains his innocence and is awaiting a retrial in May.Cartel is also currently developing romantic comedy Wha
  • Civilian Content acquires majority of The Sales Co

    Civilian Content, parent company of National Lottery franchise The Film Consortium, has secured an international sales operation by agreeing to acquire the majority of The Sales Co. (Screen Daily Sept 25, 2000)Civilian, which already owns 25% of the sales Co through the Consortium, has taken two further 25% holdings owned by media concern Zenith and the now defunct funding body British Screen Finance. The publicly-listed company said it will implement "a fast-track corporate growth pla
  • Crouching Tiger makes history in Hong Kong

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon secured a place in Hong Kong film history, earning more nominations than any other film in the 20 year history of the Hong Kong Film Awards. The Ang Lee film was received a record-breaking 16 nominations in 15 categories, including best film, best director, best screenplay (Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus and Tai Kuo Jung), best actor (Chow Yun Fat) and two best actress nominations (Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Zi Yi). The film only missed a nod for best n
  • Danish box office

    Following the international success of Lone Scherfig's Italian for Beginners it is no surprise that even after 14 weeks on release is still hanging on to the number two spot with a total of 740.305 admissions so far. At the top of the chart, Hannibal gave way to the very topical Proof of Life. Two Danish engineers are currently being held hostage in Bangladesh, although the pairing of stars Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan must also take some credit.Thus Ridley Sc
  • Danny Boyle calls for digital support

    Director Danny Boyle has joined the growing number of mainstream film-makers keen to support the development of digital technology at grassroots level.Speaking to Screen International editor-in-chief Colin Brown during an on-stage Q&A at the Production Show in London on March 14, the director of Trainspotting and The Beach urged the UK's Film Council to do more for new directors using the medium.He said: "The Lottery Franchise should be for digital video. It's only
  • Digital Renaissance to be reborn yet again

    An Israeli-UK-US consortium including Capitol Films, Gravity, DLIN and the US' Kushner Locke Group is preparing to sell controversy-ridden German VFX facility Digital Renaissance after acquiring it only two years ago.News of the move revived criticism from North Rhine-Westphalia politicians about the local administration's financial support of the facility, which has been the subject of two extensive regional parliamentary inquiries. According to various reports, regional, national and
  • Eastwood gets Mystic River rights

    Warner Bros and Malpaso Productions have bought movie rights to best-selling psychological suspense thriller Mystic River for Clint Eastwood to produce and direct. Eastwood is currently talking to writers about adapting the novel by Dennis Lehane but, according to a statement "has no immediate plans" to put the project into production. Published in January, Mystic River is Lehane's latest work. His previous detective novels include A Drink Before the War, Darkness Take
  • EM.TV to sell Henson one year after acquisition

    Troubled German media concern EM.TV & Merchandising has confirmed that it is planning to sell the Jim Henson Group as part of a corporate restructure following its deal with the KirchGroup last month (ScreenDaily, Feb 2000).EM.TV spokeswoman Marion Moormann declared to the dpa/AFX news service, however, that the sale was "not yet settled" and refused to be drawn on the names of possible bidders, although the German business daily Handelsblatt noted that the Walt Disney Co. and Viacom s
  • Ferry-Go-Round claims first Jameson award

    Finnish director Aleksi Salmenperä's short Onnenpeli 2001 (Ferry-Go-Round) about love and relationships during a Baltic cruise has won the first Jameson Short Film Award presented at this year's Tampere Film Festival which wrapped on March 10.All fiction short films in the festival's national selection were eligible for the award which, with a cash value of 6,000 Euros, is the second largest prize for a short film in Finland. Ferry-Go-Round was identified by the comp
  • French film production dips; investment soars

    Although the number of French films produced last year decreased by a slight 3.3% from 1999's level, total investment in French films rose by 16% to $636m (Ffr 4.5bn) with a record seven titles (six of them period pieces) breaking the $14m (Ffr100m) budget mark - compared with just two in 1999.Total investment in the Ffr100m-plus titles jumped from $58.3m (Ffr411m) to $170.1m (Ffr1.2bn). These included Le Pacte Des Loups $21.5m (Ffr152m), Le Roi Danse $18m (Ffr127m) and
  • Future German co-production funding in doubt

    Germany's status as a major source of funding for international co-productions could be a thing of the past thanks to new government legislation which threatens to curtail the country's involvement in such projects.A new Finance Ministry legislation could effectively halt the huge flow of money out of Germany into predominantly US productions by the private German film funds. Under the new rules, producers will now only be able to claim tax relief on the part of a film's budget
  • German Experiment pays off

    Oliver Hirschbiegel's feature debut Das Experiment was the highest entry in this week's German box office chart with the highest screen averages for box office takings and admissions ($6,282 and 1,031) from its 229-print opening.The hard-hitting thriller about a group of volunteers agreeing to take part in a scientific experiment in a prison-like environment which goes terribly wrong, has restored self-confidence in the local industry which has recently seen few hits, with the e
  • German film board awards production funds

    New projects by Paul Anderson and Roman Polanski are among seven features which have received a total $3m (DM 6.42m) production backing this week from the Berlin-based German Federal Film Board (FFA). Anderson's Resident Evil, which has begun shooting at Berlin's Adlershof Studios with Milla Jovovich (The Million Dollar Hotel) and Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight), received $702,000 (DM 1.5m) while Polanski's The Pianist, currently based at the Babelsberg Studi
  • Icon teams with Australia's top management

    The production arm of Icon Entertainment's new Australian distribution operation will be a joint venture with Shanahan Management, the highly-regarded actors agency headed by Ann Churchill-Brown. The new company, called Icon Shanahan Productions is to be run by Sally Chesher.Five years ago the Australian industry was bemoaning its lack of a high-profile star system. Since then, the likes of Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe and Heath Ledger have turned that situation around so dramatically
  • Indian epic to be most expensive ever

    Hindi film star, director and producer Sanjay Khan hasannounced a multi million dollar historical feature film, which will roll inNovember. The film, titled Maryada Purshottam Ram and based on the epic RamaYana will be made on an international scale and will be the most expensivefilm ever made in Mumbai. Kahn has already signed Amitabh Bachchan to enact the roleof Lord Dashrath (father of Ram), current hearthr
  • Internationalmedia acquires Largo library

    Internationalmedia has acquired the 25-title Largo Entertainment film library which includes such films as, Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, Spike Lee's historical drama Malcolm X, the Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner Timecop, and Ridley Scott's White Squall and G.I. Jane.Commenting on the acquisition, Neuer Markt-listed Internationalmedia declared that "the combination of Internationalmedia's new star driven cine
  • LA film festival offers 21 world premieres

    Thirty-six films, including 21 world premieres, have been announced for the line-up of this year's Los Angeles Film Festival, run by non-profit indie filmmaker organisation IFP/West. The festival's opening night selection has yet to be revealed, but the West Coast premiere of Allison Anders' Things Behind The Sun has been set as the closing night offering. World premieres in the lineup are: Babak Shokrian's America So Beautiful; Dan Mintz's Cookers; Michael
  • Lions Gate, Arrow target MOXIE

    Urban drama Borough of Kings, Jury Prize winner at last month's MOXIE!/Santa Monica International Film Festival, has been acquired in an all-rights deal by Lions Gate Entertainment. Directed by Elyse Lewin, the film stars Philip Bosco, Jim Stanek, Joseph Lyle Taylor and Patrick Newall and features Olympia Dukakis. Another project that got its world premiere at the Santa Monica event, thriller Ordinary Madness, which stars Dean Anello and Paul Keane, has been picked up in
  • Mar del Plata

    MAR DEL PLATA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALMarch 8 - 17Argentina's Mar del Plata International Film Festival has bounced back after mismanagement and a local film industry boycott forced a hiatus last year. A new executive team led by film critic and historian Claudio Espana has promised to provide a more organised festival this year. Espana plans a more rational spend of the festival's $2.4m budget, with a focus on film-makers rather than stars. Long touted as Latin Americ
  • Mate boards directorial debut: Private Lives

    Spanish producer Mate Productions has boarded Argentinean film Private Lives (Vidas Privadas) from first-time director and popular musician Fito Paez.The film, a co-production with Paez's own Circo Beat, is set to star Cecilia Roth (All About My Mother), Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros) and Hector Alterio (Plata Quemada).Roth plays a woman who returns to Buenos Aires after a 20 year absence and, as a result of her affair with a younger man, is force
  • Mullet

    Writer-director David Caesar's third feature, his first since the admired Idiot Box (1996), is a small-budget, small-scale character study surprisingly showing in widescreen 35mm and six-track Dolby. Though rich in Australian idiom and seldom exploited southern New South Wales coastal scenery, Mullet's theatrical ambitions seem overstretched. Its true home is more likely to be television."All my films," notes Caesar, "are trying to understand what it means to be a
  • New body to lobby for deal for Polish filmmakers

    Polish film and television producers have established a new consultative body which will lobby the government for better legal and commercial conditions for the Polish audio-visual industry. The newly formed Association of Producers made up of producers working in both film and television will act as Chamber of Commerce for the industry. According to Polish law the new association will have to be consulted on any new legislation concerning film or television.Dariusz Jablonski, g
  • New UK sales and distribution outfit launched

    Micro-budget film-maker Ray Brady, best known for controversial 1994 horror flick Boy Meets Girl, has launched his own UK distribution and international sales operation under the banner Boudicca.The venture is already lining up two Brady titles for UK release - 1999 thriller Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the recently completed Love Life - but also aims to handle titles from third-party film-makers. Specialising in low-budget fare, Boudicca is talking to independent exhib
  • No more Victory for EM.TV

    German private media fund Victory Media has cancelled its five-year co- production agreement with EM.TV to put up $233m (DM 500m) for the production of 100 animation series for the international market with a total production volume of $700m (DM 1.5bn) over the next five years.Victory had planned to attract investors to back a portfolio of projects including animation series being co-produced with EM.TV as well as their ISP joint venture Junior Web.However, the fund's latest pro
  • Only Mine for Buena Vista Spain

    Buena Vista International Spain (BVIS) has picked up Spanish theatrical rights on Sergi Lopez-starrer Only Mine (Solo Mia) from Madrid-based production house Star Line Productions.Digital satellite platform Via Digital has pay TV and Television Espanola free-to-air rights to the film, director Javier Balaguer's feature debut.Only Mine stars Lopez and up-and-coming actress Paz Vega in a tale of domestic abuse. Balaguer and Alvaro Garcia Mohedano co-scripted the film
  • Paredes joins Savages

    Spanish actress Marisa Paredes has joined the castof first-time writer-director Carlos Molinero's feature film, Savages(Salvajes).The film will reunite Paredes - who is currentlythe president of Spain's Cinema Academy - with Imanol Arias, her co-star inPedro Almodovar's 1995 hit The Flower Of My Secret (El Flor De Mi Secreto).Paredes also starred in Almodovar's 1999 Oscar-winner All About My Mother(Todo Sob
  • Pentamedia goes big with Little John

    Chennai-based Pentamedia Gaphics Ltd has announced a $20mfeature film Little John about the adventures of an American Tourist inIndia who gets accidentally miniaturized. The company has already made its mark in the digitalentertainment sector with a slew of full length digital animation moviesincluding The Pandavas, a complete animation story based on theepic. The company has been actively involved in d
  • Platnick to leave Mandalay

    Adam Platnick, president of motion pictures at Peter Guber's Mandalay Pictures, is to leave the company when his contract expires this summer. In a press release, Platnick did not specify his future plans but said he is "looking forward to new opportunities." Until his contract expires, Platnick will continue work at Mandalay on the domestic and international release of Enemy At The Gates, post-production on The Score and principal photography on Servicing Sara.
  • Portugal Telecom posts results

    Telecoms and media giant Portugal Telecom (PT) released its year-end financial results, which were highlighted by a 32.1% rise in consolidated operating revenues to Euros 4.19bn.The company pointed to investments in mobile phones, data and internet services as new high growth business areas which now account for as much of 50% of revenues. PT's consolidated net income rose 9.2% to Euros 540m.Meanwhile, filial PT Multimedia (PTM) posted net losses of Euros 105.8m. That figure doe
  • RAI and Lakeshore to make first Gere

    Richard Gere is set to make his directorial debut with a feature film that is being planned as a co-production between Italy's RAI Cinema and Lakeshore. The two companies are currently in talks to reach an agreement on the 52-year-old actor's film, which it is understood could go into production in Italy in 2002.As part of its high-profile drive into production, RAI Cinema is currently preparing two features with Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis, who is set to receive the Irving G.
  • RCV's Buying Spree at AFM

    RCV Entertainment's Dirk de Lille returned from the AFM with a full shopping basket, bolstering his move to buy more mainstream U.S. fare than RCV was previously known for before he came on board last year. Most notably, De Lille is buying into the Crouching Tiger effect - having acquired Jackie Chan's Accidental Spy and Jet Li's The Red Dragon. Other high profile buys are Lasse Hallström's The Shipping News and the Mel Gibson war drama We Were Soldiers Onc
  • Risk

    Dir: Alan White. Australia. 2000. 90mins. Award-winning commercials and music video director AlanWhite made his 1999 feature debut with the grittily realistic ErskinevilleKings, set in a crumbling inner-suburban Sydney. With Risk he visitsthe top end of town - ritzy apartments, sleek corporate offices with powerfulcityscape views - but fails to deliver the freshness and dramatic weight thatmade Kings such a critical succ
  • Stalled thriller still awaiting Evolution's cash

    UK producer Simon Channing-Williams has been forced to postpone shooting on The Game Of Love And Loathing after funding from tax-driven financier Evolution Films failed to materialise.The psychological thriller was expected to be in pre-production at the moment but it is now unclear how it will be financed. Evolution sparked controversy after it emerged that it was factoring in cast and crew deferrals, sometimes worth three times a production's cash budget. Evolution claims tax
  • Stealthily, Secretly causes rioting in India

    Delhi High Court has directed City Government and PoliceCommissioner to provide adequate security to the capital's cinema halls wherethe controversial film financed by Bharat Shah and produced by Nazim HassanRazvi Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Stealthily, Secretly) is playing. Thefilm's distributor Manpreet Singh Chadha, had received threats from certainreligious, political and fundamentalist organizations asking him not to exhibitthe film in New Delhi and Uttar Prades
  • Telepool in first-look deal with New Legend Media

    German rightstrader Telepool has concluded an all German language rights first-look dealwith the US-German production outfit New Legend Media. The first New Legendprojects to be covered by the deal are the Jeremy Irons-thriller The Fourth Angel, a new version of The Count Of Monte Cristo withChristopher Lambert and John Malkovich, and the romantic comedy Y
  • The Mexican

    Dir: Gore Verbinski. US. 2001. 125mins.The first pairing of Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, Hollywood's beloved stars, proves to be a mixed blessing in Gore Verbinski's The Mexican, a mishmash of a movie in which different genres and different styles compete aggressively and strenuously for the viewers' attention. Although the first and last reels are very much in the tradition of romantic comedy, the long mid-section unravels as a road crime action movie, with Pitt a

    Screen International weekly edition March 16-22 2001Contents:NewsAnalysis & CommentFocusThe National Film & Television School @ 30Executive SuiteVincent Maraval:The Wild Bunch founder explains why a 'researchdepartment' is one of the world's hottest sellers and producersScreen AdvertisingProducers and distributors alike are complaining that theexhorbitant cost of advertising in the UK compared withthe r
  • Ticket sales down; The Mexican still number one

    It was a disappointing weekend at the North American box office, falling some 17% from the same weekend last year. This first drop of the year comes just days after a keynote speech by MPAA president Jack Valenti at ShoWest in which he made much of the dramatic rise in admissions during the first eight weeks of 2001 compared with January and February the year before.DreamWorks' crime comedy The Mexican starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts still led the field but fell 40% to take
  • Traffic

    After taking best movie cast and best actor awards at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards last weekend, multi-Oscar nominee Traffic is proving that it has box office clout as well. The film, which has taken more than $115m worldwide so far, added several strong openings over the weekend.Topping the charts in Italy and Australia the Steven Soderbergh directed film is reaping the benefits of the awards season. Already the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York Film
  • UK Film Council backs innovative, commercial slate

    A combination of US and leading UK talent defines the debut slate of the UK Film Council's commercially-oriented Premiere Fund, while the support body's New Cinema Fund for low-budget projects aims to mix innovation with established names such as Alex Cox, Christopher Eccleston and Simon BeaufoyRobert Altman's Gosford Park has secured the most out of all Film Council-backed projects, being granted $2.9m (£2m) from the Premiere Fund run by Robert Jones. The 1930s murder-mystery h
  • UK film production affected by animal virus

    With much of the UK's countryside under virtual lockdown to curb the burgeoning foot-and-mouth epidemic, producers are beginning to feel the disruption as rural locations become inaccessible, and the scramble begins to find suitable replacements."Most scripts will have a bit of greenery in them," says Gavin Northover, location manager on Mr In-Between, a Phantom Pictures-Spice Factory drama-thriller currently shooting. "I think it's going to hit everybody pretty hard."All
  • UK's Tiger Aspect eyes suitors

    Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner's UK production outfit Working Title Films has emerged as a potential candidate to buy leading UK TV company Tiger Aspect Productions.Spokespersons for both companies confirmed UK press reports that a deal was being explored, although both stressed that talks were no more than exploratory at this stage.Tiger has been talking with a number of suitors including Endemol, BSkyB and Granada. Working Title has a first-look deal with Tiger for features. The t
  • UK's year-end cinema admissions below par

    Admissions in the last quarter of 2000 slid 13% to 32.2 million, compared with 37.1m in the last three months of 1999, according to data from government agency National Statistics. If the data is seasonally adjusted the fall was 14%, from 37.7 million to 32.4 million.The figures reveal a total of 137.1 million tickets sold in 2000, a 2.5% increase on 1999's 133.8 million. The previous year's increase had been a beefier 5.3%. A number of factors may explain the slowdown: a declining num

    A dearth pf strong openers in the UK left the top six virtually unchanged over the weekend leaving Hannibal unchallenged at the top of the chart. Despite falling 40% on the previous weekend, the thriller's $1,774,915 (£1,208,717) was easily enough to hold the top spot for a fourth week. The films' reign is unlikely to last much longer, however. Even if it holds out against Pathe's Enemy At The Gates and BVI's Thirteen Days next weekend, the film will then have to face Rob
  • Village Roadshow exhibits downturn in profit

    Australia's Village Roadshow suffered a 44% slide in first half net profits as its exhibition business suffered from poor product worldwide.Profits fell to A$22m, with cinema exhibition recording an A$11.8m loss. The cinema, theme park and radio group plans to reduce its operating territories to around nine from 18. The company took a A$23.3m operating loss from the sale of its cinema German circuit."Improving the return from cinema is our number one priority," said managing dir
  • Vivendi Universal posts 60% rise in profit

    Vivendi Universal - which has seen its net income jump 60%, to Euros 2.3bn, and revenues rise 37% to Euros 41.8bn in 2000 - will meet its aggressive growth and synergy targets in 2001 and 2002 according to chairman Jean-Marie Messier.At a conference call on March 9, Messier said: "We have already met goals which were considered too ambitious" stressing that the media and communication division - which contributed Euros 13.6bn in revenues, Euros 600m in operating profit and Euros 2.2bn