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2 January 2006

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  • ...and dethrones King Kong in North America

    The epics were at it again this weekend but this time TheChronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe won out over KingKong.After a closely contested Christmas weekend saw Konghold the lead the four-day New Year weekend saw the great ape pass the crownback to Aslan and friends. Narnia grossed $32.8m over the four-dayholiday weekend ahead of King Kong's $31.6m.The battle provided a great start to the New Year with theweekend finish
  • A New Day In Old Sana'a

    A classic star-crossed-romance-cum-travelogue set in thealluring capital of Yemen, Bader Ben Hirsi's A New Day In OldSana'a skims over the lives of a doomed couple in a restrictive society.Fascinating forits glimpses into the lives of women in one of the Arab world's poorestcountries, it may prove too light for pure arthouse consumption,although it will undoubtedly find its own Arab audience (it won best Arab filmat
  • Amy Israel joining Paramount Classics

    Former Miramaxacquisition executive Amy Israel is joining Paramount Classics as executivevice president of production and acquisitions. The appointment is one of thefirst made by John Lesher, named president of the Paramount specialty label twomonths ago. Israel worked atMiramax for eight years during the nineties and was responsible for theacquisition and co-production of films including Kevin Smith's Clerks, Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concu
  • Anchor Bay CEO dies of heart failure

    Mo Claridge,CEO of UK home video company AnchorBay Entertainment, passed away on Christmas Day at age 54. The cause of deathwas heart failure.Claridge joined Anchor Bay four years ago when itacquired
  • Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) selects 25 film projects

    TheHong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) has unveiled 25 Asian filmprojects for its 2006 edition. The selection consists of 10 projects from Hong Kong, 3 each from China and Taiwan, two each from Japan,
  • BAFTA Munich screeners hit delays

    The first round of voting forthis year's BAFTAs closes on Wednesday, which will bebefore voters have a chance to watch screeners of one awardsfavourite, Steven Spielberg's Munich. The decision to send Munich screeners was made before Christmas, and the film's UK
  • Bafta's first round of voting shows early frontrunners

    As of this morning, Baftamembers are starting their second round of voting for the British Academy's annual film awards,with The Constant Gardener leadingthe first-round shortlist in the major categories. The Bafta second-roundvoting shortlist for best fil
  • Baker Street launches Take 9 fund for UK films

    London-basedfilm financing company Baker Street Media Management has launched its latestequity fund, Take 9, to invest in British film productions. Baker Street saidTake 9 would seek to raise up to $22m (£12.5m) in cash from private investors, tosupport fil
  • BBC FOUR announces nominees for world cinema prize

    BBC FOUR has announced the nominations for its third annual world cinemaaward. Thisyear's shortlist is: Wong Kar Wai's2046, Oliver Hirschbiegel's Downfall,Zhang Yimou's Houseof Flying Daggers, Agnes Jaoui's Look at Me, Alejandro Amenabar's The SeaInside, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul'sTropical Malady. Thenominees were selected by
  • Berlinale Co-Production Market entries leap 25%

    Thenumber of entries for this year's Berlinale Co-Production Market (BCM) is up 25%on 2005.Morethan 30
  • Box office attendance in Argentina drops by 15% for 2005

    Cinema attendancefigures in Argentina dropped by an estimated 15% in 2005. The period saw 36million admissions as opposed to 42m in 2004, the biggest year for the localmarket in almost two decades. However, audiences were still up from 2003 bythree million admissions and from 2002 by four
  • Brokeback Mountain leads SAG nominations list

    Adding further to thethree films' fast-building awards season momentum, Brokeback Mountainhas received four awards nominations from the US Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Capoteand Crash three each.Less expected SAGnominations went to Judi Dench (for Mrs Henderson Presents), Ziyi Zhang(for Memoirs of a Geisha), Amy Adams (for Junebug) and theensemble cast of Hustle & Flow.Focus Features' Brokebackgot nominations for lead male
  • Cattaneo film will open Berlinale Kinderfilmfest

    The Berlinale's Kinderfilmfest will be opened with the international premiere of Peter Cattaneo's new film Opal Dream about a girl whose lively imaginary friends become a real threat to her family in the Australian outback.Other titles confirmed so far for Berlin's children's film sidebar include the world premiere of local director Anne Wild's fresh new take on the German fairytale Hansel und Gretel and Swedish filmmaker Anders Gustafsson's Percy, Buffalo Bill & I (Percy, Bu
  • Greek company Audiovisual Enterprises buys Prooptiki

    Audiovisual Enterprises, the only publicly listed Greekentertainment media group, has bought out its rival Prooptiki.The acquisition worth $25.3m (21m Euros) places Audiovisual at the forefront oftheatrical distribution and further consolidates its lead position in video-DVDdistribution. Prooptiki's form
  • Hong Kong's 2005 box office hits new record lows

    Hong Kong cinema grossed a depressing $36.6m (HK$284m)from a record low of 55 local productions in 2005, continuing the decline of recent years.According to figurescompiled by the territory's Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA), only two local films cracked the top 10: car racing drama Initial D zoomed to top the chart with $4,883,009(HK$37,862,364) while Wait Til You're Older sta
  • Icelandic film opens 29th Gothenburg Film Festival

    Icelandic director Sturla Gunnarsson's vikingdrama Beowulf & Grendel will openthe 2006 Gothenburg Film Festival (27 January - 6 February). The film, starringGerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgård, Sarah Polley and Ingvar Sigurdsson, had itsworld premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and will get its US premiere at thePalm Springs Film Festival on 6 January. This is a co-production between TheFilm Works, Spice Factory and The Icelandic Film Corporation, the film'sinternational sal
  • ID Distribution and Scalpel Films form alliance

    France's IDDistribution and Scalpel Films have announced a strategic alliance for 2006, movingtowards co-production alongside French distribution activities andinternational sales.Led by Isabelle Dubar and former Celluloid head of sales Pierre Menahem respectively, ID and Scalpel have picked up Israelidirec
  • IFC acquires distribution rights to Twelve and Holding

    Michael Cuesta'schildhood drama Twelve AndHolding, which sold to a raft of international markets on the back of its Torontopremiere last autumn, has found a USdistributor. IFC hasacquired Serenade Films' revenge tale of youngsters who come to terms with t
  • IMAX signs cinema deal in China

    IMAX Corp and Chinese property developer Sailun Real EstateDevelopment Co have signed an agreement that will see the installation of a newIMAX MPX theatre system in a retail and leisure centre in Kunming, YunnanProvince, China. The facility will be the entertainment anchor of Sailun'smassive $310m Kunming Shuncheng Mall project.In a statement, IMAX co-CEOs and co-chairs Richard Gelfondand Brad Wechsler said the new deal is indicative of the fast growth of theexhibition business
  • Japanese film to open Rotterdam

    Nagasaki Shunichi's Heart, Beating In The Dark will open the35th Rotterdam International Film Festival (January 25-February 5).Festival director Sandra den Hamer called the film "an extraordinary, multilayeredstatement on cinema itself."Heart, BeatingIn The Dark is part remake and part sequel to
  • Jon Stewart to host Academy Award ceremony

    JonStewart, best known as host of US political satire series The Daily Show, has been set to hostthe 78th Academy Awards ceremonyand TV presentation on March 5.Stewarttakes over the job from Chris Rock, who made his first appearance as Oscar hostlast year.
  • Kong still strong at the international box office

    It may have seen The Chronicles Of Narniastealing its thunder but UIP's King Kong was stillroaring loud internationally over the New Year weekend. With an estimated three-daygross (December 30-January 1) of $29m off 6,713 locations in 49 territories thegreat ape saw only a 19% week-on-week drop off. Its cumulative grossinternationally had reached $222.5m by Sunday and Monday (January 2) saw itpass $400m worldwide. With Christmas out the wayand audiences finding mor
  • Korea's MK Pictures plans Chinese multiplex expansion

    Finalising a recent memorandum of understanding on film businessdevelopment, Korean producer/distributor MK Pictures has signed with China'sEastern Dragon Film and Beijing Bona Culture Media International to partner ina multiplex development enterprise. The deal was signed on December 27 in Beijing.The equity investments from the three partners totals $2.5m
  • Lee and Spielberg join newcomers on DGA shortlist

    The Directors Guild of America(DGA) has nominated past winners Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg and relativenewcomers George Clooney, Paul Haggis and Bennett Miller for its 2005Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film award. The DGA award is consideredone of the most accurate predictors of Academy Award success: the Guild'sfeature directing winner has gone on to take the best director Oscar 51 timesin the last 57 years.Lee's citation for FocusFeatures' Brokeback Mounta
  • Liberty's Starz launches movie download service

    Liberty Media's StarzEntertainment Group is launching Vongo, a new US video download subscriptionservice that delivers movies from studios including Disney and Sony for viewingon Windows-based devices such as PCs, laptops and portable players. Vongo subscribers will pay$9.99 a month for unlimited broadband Internet access to around 1,000 new andlibrary movies and video selections. The service will also offer pay-per-viewmovies at $3.99 each. Newer movies will becomeavailable in
  • Narnia chronicles New Year international box-office glory

    The lion was still roaring as the new year got underway withBuena Vista International's (BVI) The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, TheWitch And The Wardrobe holding onto the international lead. With athree-day weekend of $41.5m and a four-day (including Monday which was aholiday in many territories) of $53.5m.This brings Narnia's international cumulative grossto a massive $225.5m and its worldwide gross to $450.3m. It is already BVI'sfifth biggest live action film of all t
  • North American box office down 4% for 2005

    TotalNorth American box office was down 4% to $8.83bn in 2005, according tofigures released on Tuesday by Nielsen EDI - not quite the disastrousslump feared earlier in the year, but still the lowest overall domestic tallysince 2001.Amongdistributors, Warner Bros, last year's number two domestically, earned
  • Oliveira to head Twentieth Century Fox Australia

    MarcosOliveira, long-standing managing director of Twentieth Century Fox Brazil, hasbeen appointed managing director for Fox - Australia and will relocate toSydney later this month. Patricia Kamitsuji, currently sales director in theBrazil office, will replace Oliveira as Fox - Brazil's managing director.Announcingthe appointments, Fox International co-head Paul Hanneman said that in his newjob O
  • Poland's box office admissions down by 30%

    In what is likely to be oneof the biggest year-on-year deficits in Europe latest Polish figures for 2005show box office down 28.7% and admissions down 30% last year. The figures from localmarket tracker ES Media show the territory suffered a massive 50% admissionsdrop in the first quarter due to the presence of The Passion Of The Christ and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of TheKing during the first quarter of 2004 when both opened in Pola
  • Police seize $500,000 of pirate DVDs in UK raid

    A UK police force has seized more than £500,000 of pirate DVDs in a joint operation with FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft).More than 100,000 illegally-copied films, including Memoirs of a Geisha, The Chronicles Of Narnia and Munich, were found when Kent Police raided a makeshift factory in Burnt Oak, North-West London and a related facility in Peckham, South-East London.They also found computers and more than 200 DVD burners capable of manufacturing over 20,000 DVDs p
  • Police seize $500,000 of pirate DVDs in UK raid

    A UK police force has seized more than £500,000 of pirate DVDs in a joint operation with FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft).More than 100,000 illegally-copied films, including Memoirs of a Geisha, The Chronicles Of Narnia and Munich, were found when Kent Police raided a makeshift factory in Burnt Oak, North-West London and a related facility in Peckham, South-East London.They also found computers and more than 200 DVD burners capable of manufacturing over 20,000 DVDs p
  • Sheffield Doc Fest To Launch UK Tour in February

    The Sheffield InternationalDocumentary Festival will launch its UK tour at the National Film Theatrein London from February 2-5. The tour, in its seventh year,includes highlights from the Sheffield festival held in October. After a f
  • Sighvatsson swoops on Scanbox

    LosAngeles-based film producer Sigurjon "Joni"Sighvatsson has taken over Scandinavian filmdistribution company Scanbox Entertainment A/S,acquiring 75 percent of its shares.
  • Soda picks up UK rights to Song of Songs

    Soda Pictures has taken UK and Ireland rights to Josh Appignanesi'sdebut feature Song of Songs.Natalie Press, who previously starred in My Summer of Love, stars alongsidenewcomer Joel Chalfen in the story of a brother andsister in London
  • Star Wars and Harry Potter are 2005 box-office champs

    Darth Vader and Harry Potter were the true dark lord andwizard master for 2005's box office.Worldwide George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III - RevengeOf The Sith was the year's champion with a stunning $848.5m. However,internationally (excluding North America) it was Harry Potter And The GobletOf Fire which finished the year at the top of the pack.Both films crossed $800m worldwide in 2005, leagues ahead oftheir nearest competitors none other of whom surpassed $600m.
  • Switzerland's box office attendance down by 14%

    One of the earliest Europeanterritories to report end-of-year figures, Switzerland's 14% year-on-year drop and market dominance by UIPappear likely indicators of trends to be seen across the major mainlandterritories in the next few days. While year-on-year businessmay be in line with much of Europe the real interest in Switzerland comes
  • The Tin Mine wins top awards at Thai Suphannahongsa

    Jira Maligool's The Tin Mine swept the Suphannahongsaawards last night (Jan 4), scooping six awards including best film, bestdirector and best supporting actor. The coming-of-age dramais Thailand's entry for the Oscar.Executive producers VisutePoolvoralaks from GMM Tai Hub and MingmongkolSonakul from Dedicate were on hand to receive the best film
  • UK box-office figures for 2005 are up by 1%

    It started well and so itfinished. Final box office figures for the UK/Ireland market reported today bystatistics trackers Nielsen EDI showed the territory had managed the seeminglyimpossible - it improved on 2004's record box office by 1%. The Nielsen EDI results forthe official box office year - measured from January 7, 2005 to January 5, 2006 - showed the
  • US video spending dips in 2005

    US consumers spent $22.8bn buying and renting DVDs in 2005,an 8% increase on 2004, according to figures from trade organisation theDigital Entertainment Group (DEG). But overall US consumer spending on video- including VHS rental and sell-through as well as DVD - actuallydeclined slightly, from $24.5bn in 2004 to $24.3bn. The figures, released by the DEG at this week's ConsumerElectronics Show in Las Vegas, give the industry additional cause for concernafter the news of a 4% drop in No
  • US writers and producers announce nominations

    Brokeback Mountain, Capote,Crash and Good Night, and GoodLuck have all been nominated forawards by both the US producers' and writers' guilds. The 40 Year-Old Virgin, meanwhile, got a surprise nomination from thewriters' organization.The big four Hollywood guildsall announce their award nominees this week, with the Producers Guild ofAmerica (PGA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) going first.The PGA nominated DianaOssana and James Schamus
  • Wild Bunch to launch sales for Leconte feature

    French outfit Wild Bunch is to launch sales on Mon Meilleur Ami,(My Best Friend), Patrice Leconte's latestfeature at the Paris Rendez-Vous later this month. Touted as a comedy in the style of François Veber, Leconte's new film tellsthe story of a snobbish art gallery owner who gradually comes to realise howunpopular he really is. He strikes up a relationship with a working-class,boorish taxi driver whom he in reality loathes, but tries to pass off as hisbest friend. Daniel
  • Wim Wenders to receive tribute at Miami Festival

    Wim Wenders will receive the2006 Miami International Film Festival's (MIFF) Career Achievement Tribute,joining a distinguished roster of previous winners that includes Liv Ulman and Hector Babenco. "Weare proud to pay tribute to this legendary director, writer, and producer whosecontribution to the spirit of independent cinema continues to inspirefilmmakers around the globe," festival director Nicole Guillemetsaid. Wendersburst on to the scene in the late 1960s and was at thevan
  • Wong Kar-wai to head Competition jury for Cannes

    HongKong auteur Wong Kar-wai will head up the Competitionjury for the Cannes Film Festival this year (May 17-28), it was announced today(Jan 4).Thedirector, whose earlyfilm As TearsGo By was screened at Un Certain Regard in 1989 (and marked the first HongKong film ever at the festival), has been a Cannes stalwart ever since, winningBest Director for Happy Together in1997, coming back in 2000 with In TheMood For Love and keeping the 2004 jury on tenterhooks when his