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2 June 2000

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  • A Conversation With Gregory Peck

    Dir: Barbara Kopple. US. 1999. 97 mins.Prod Co: On Tour Productions/Cabin Creek Films. Int'l Sales: Films Transit International. Prod: Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck, Linda Saffire. DoPs: Don Lenzer, Tom Hurwitz, Sandy Sissel. Ed: Bob Eisenhardt. Sound: Peter Miller, John McCormick, Michael Lonsdale. Mus: Art Labriola. Main cast: Gregory Peck, Veronique Peck, Cecilia Peck, Lauren Bacall. Having tracked Woody Allen across Europe for the revealing Wild Man Blues, docu
  • Ambergate to give UK's 2 Days US outing

    US boutique distributor Ambergate has acquired British film 2 Days, 9 Lives for theatrical distribution. The film, which details 48 hours in the life of a group of people in rehab, is the first feature by commercials director Simon Monjack, who also takes co-writing and music composing credits. Ambergate plans to give the film a release this autumn in a fashion similar to its handling of Todd Solondz' Happiness.
  • Chello delays stockmarket flotation

    Chello, the Dutch broadband Internet group, has delayed its proposed flotation until at least next week while it enters into "strategic discussions" with UK cable operator Telewest, according to the UK's Financial Times.Chello is reportedly in talks with Telewest about a deal that would give the company a stronghold in the UK. Telewest could in turn buy a stake in Chello. Neither company has commented on the Telewest speculation, although Chello did rule out another rumour that
  • Chorot to replace Le Pogam at Gaumont

    Franck Chorot, who currently heads UIP's French distribution outpost, will join Gaumont this summer, replacing Pierre-Ange Le Pogam as deputy general manager in charge of worldwide marketing and distribution.Chorot will oversee the activities of three Gaumont subsidiaries including GBVI, a joint venture with Buena Vista, headed by Jean-Francois Camilieri, which handles domestic theatrical distribution; GCTHV, a home video joint venture with Columbia TriStar, headed by Thierry Rogister;
  • EM.TV completes Formula 1 offering

    German TV and rights group EM.TV & Merchandising has completed the secondary share offering it launched in connection with the acqusition of a 50% interest in Formula 1 (F1).EM.TV completed the move by finalising a private placement of 2.5m shares. Florian Haffa, EM.TV's deputy chief execuive officer, said in a statement that the transaction meant that no further placements of additional shares were envisaged.EM.TV, which recently paid out $680m to swallow the Jim Henson cartoon
  • Estorvo (Turbulence)

    Dir: Ruy Guerra. Brazil. 2000. 95 mins.Prod cos: Sky Light, Rio Filme, D&D Audiovisuais. Co-prod: Productora Cinematografica ICAIC. Int'l Sales: Serene Skylight International (001 801 659 8840). Exec prod: Jom Tob Azulay, Miguel Mendoza. Prod: Bruno Stroppiana, Bruno Cerveira. Scr: Guerra, based on the novel by Chico Buarque. Dop: Marcelo Durst. Prod des: Raul Oliva, Claudio Amaral Peixoto, Tony De Castro. Ed: Mair Tavares. Music: Egberto Gismonti. Main cast: Jorge Perugorria, Bianc
  • Eureka

    Dir: Shinji Aoyama. Japan. 2000. 218mins.Prod cos: A.J.Works, Les Films de l'Observatoire, Tokyo Theatres. Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, tel: (+33 1 4443 9800). Prod: Takenori Sento. Scr: Shinji Aoyama. Ed: Shinji Aoyama. Prod des:Takeshi Shimizu. DoP: Masaki Tamra. Music: Isao Yamada. Main cast: Kaji Yakusho, Aoi Miyazaki, Masaru Miyazaki, Go Riju.After complaining bitterly about the often inordinate length of the competition films this year, the international critics (Fipres
  • Euro distribution forum launches at Locarno

    European Film Promotion (EFP), the umbrella organisation for European promotional organisations, is holding a meeting of European distribution and sales companies during August's Locarno International Film Festival.The two-day forum joins the programme of EFP-run events held at leading festivals such as the Shooting Stars initiative in Berlin, Producers On The Move in Cannes and New European Directors in Toronto. EFP argues that the latest move is timely because the European Union's me
  • Ferrari replaces Cabanillas at RTVE

    Javier Gonzalez Ferrari has been appointed general director of Spain's public television broadcaster Radio Television Espanola (RTVE), replacing outgoing head Pio Cabanillas, who was given the post as spokesperson for the recently re-elected national government.Ferrari takes on a television network steeped in debt as well as an on-going controversy concerning TVE's policy of accepting both federal funding and private advertisements. He has acted as head of the news division for TVE sin
  • FFC gets Skase in latest funding round

    Australia's Film Finance Corporation (FFC) is backing comedy Let's Get Skase, which draws on events surrounding Australian media mogul Christopher Skase who is currently sheltering from legal action in Majorca, Spain.Skase headed the Qintex group, former owner of Australia's Seven Network and aspiring owner of MGM, which collapsed with debts exceeding A$1.5bn in 1992.The film, set to go into production in August, is about a group of boys who become men in the process of t
  • Frere joins M6's revamped board

    Belgian financier Albert Frere, one of CLT-Ufa's main shareholders through his holding company Audiofina, has joined the newly-appointed supervisory board of M6 and been named vice president of the French free TV broadcaster.CLT-Ufa - now renamed RTL Group, following its merger with UK group Pearson's television interests - is a major shareholder in M6, along with utilities giant Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux. The two companies each hold 34% of the voting shares.The move is in line wi
  • Gateway founder commits $100m to Gold Circle Films

    Gateway Computers co-founder Norm Waitt is making his first foray into filmmaking, committing up to $100m over the next two years towards the financing of independent features. Through his media company Gold Circle Entertainment - which owns 53 radio stations, five television stations and an advertising firm - Waitt has launched subsidiary Gold Circle Films, to be based in Los Angeles. Gold Circle Films intends to produce at least a dozen features over the next two years, with b
  • Gladiator retains pole position at UK box office

    Gladiator's rule in the UK box office arena continued for the third weekend running as the film's cumulative reached over $20m. Taking a three-day gross of $4.4m over the UK's bank holiday weekend, box office revenues dropped just 14% from last weekend and the site average remained strong at $10,580. Entertainment's release of Final Destination also maintained steady weekend figures, dropping only 16% to a three-day gross of $1.8m (£1.2m) and taking second place in the ch
  • Grade takes up TV production chair at NFTS

    Entertainment impresario Michael Grade has taken up the first Lew Grade chair of TV production at the UK's National Film And Television School (NFTS).Grade will take up the post, created in honour of his late uncle, in the autumn at the school's Beaconsfield site. He will work with students as part of a drama workshop on the selection of programming material."This flattering opportunity confirms my status as an elder statesman these days," Grade said. "I'm thrilled to be asked t
  • Helkon takes majority control of Newmarket

    Adding to its flurry of US production deals Germany's Helkon Media has taken majority control of US film finance boutique Newmarket Capital Group.The deal was conducted through the wholly-owned Helkon International and involved the exercise of options on a further 32% of Newmarket's capital in addition to the 19% it bought in January (Screendaily, Jan 20). Helkon has upped its US presence through a co-financing venture with Chuck Roven's Atlas Entertainment and a two-year
  • Hungary's culture body picks millennium winners

    Hungary's National Cultural Heritage Ministry has awarded a total of 150m forints ($535,000) to six feature projects which it has deemed representative of Hungarian life.The projects were chosen as part of a competition held to mark the end of the millennium. The first project, Peter Kukac From Nagyapat Is Going To Heaven, is already completed and has been presented to a small audience at the Hungarian Film Festival. The film, co-directed by Zoltan Bicskei and Jozsef Nagy, is ba
  • IMAX Oz franchise enters administration

    Cinema Plus, the public company which holds the IMAX franchise for Australia and New Zealand, has been put in the hands of Sydney administrators Ferrier Hodgson, three-and-a-half years after listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Steve Sherman, who is in charge as a result of the move, said the company would have to be restructured before it could be determined whether it was a viable business. He blamed high rental costs as one of
  • Israel's Sharanski set to close censorship board

    Israel's interior minister Nathan Sharanski has announced that he plans to close the Israeli Film Censorship Board and replace it with a tougher movie ratings system based on age. The board has traditionally imposed outright bans on films thought unsuitable for Israeli audiences. However, Sharanski said he longer sees the point of banning films which are easily available via videocassettes and cable broadcasts, as Israel does not censor these two ancillary markets.While Sharansk
  • ITC waves through Carlton, United merger

    The proposed merger between UK media conglomerates Carlton Communications and United News & Media got a thumbs up from the Independent Television Commission (ITC) today, when it said that it "would not operate against the public interest." However, the UK TV watchdog also found no reason to object to rival media group Granada bidding for either Carlton or United. The announcement follows public consultations by the ITC on a range of potential cross media conflicts thrown up by the prop
  • James Murdoch to become chief of Star TV

    James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's youngest son, has been named chairman and chief executive of News Corp's Asian television platform Star TV.Star, which is valued at $8-15bn is set to become part of News Corp's global television platform Platco, which will also encompass the company's interests in BSkyB, Sky Latin America, Japan's SKYPerfecTV, Stream in Italy and Germany's Premiere. Murdoch said earlier this year that he plans to float Platco in what analysts describe as potentially the
  • Japan's Dance waltzes into Korea

    Japanese title Shall We Dance' is poised to repeat its overseas box office success in Korea where it has outperformed Erin Brockovich, racking up 100,000 admissions in its first week.The 1995 comedy, directed by Masayuki Suo, opened in Korea on 69 screens on May 13. The film looks set to break the previous record for a Japanese film in Korea - set by Shunji Iwai's Love Letter, which scored 130,000 admissions following its Korean release in the autumn of 1999.
  • Karlovy Vary to feature Big Animal premiere

    Highlights in the international competition section for the 35th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (July 5-15) include the world premiere of Big Animal, directed by well-known Polish actor Jerzy Stuhr from the first script by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski.Other world premieres at the leading film event in Central and Eastern Europe go to the Japanese film First Love (Hatsuko), by Tetsuo Shinohara, and Krisztina Deak's Hungarian title Jadvig
  • Leys to spearhead Gillon Aitken push into film

    Kate Leys, formerly head of development at the UK's FilmFour, has joined Gillon Aitken Associates to head a drive into exploiting film and TV rights at the London literary agency.Leys, who left FilmFour last year to go freelance, takes up the newly-created post of film and TV executive. She is to advise the agency and its clients on the exploitation of film and TV rights in their work.Gillon Aitken, chairman, aims to build "stronger links for our clients with the film and TV ind
  • Lot 47 acquires Fast Food, Fast Women

    Lot 47 has acquired North American rights (excluding Quebec) to Amos Kollek's Cannes competition title Fast Food, Fast Women, from French sales outfit Celluloid Dreams.Celluloid, which produced the romantic comedy, along with three European distributors - France's Ocean Films, Italy's Bim and Germany's Pandora - said the title has been sold to almost every international territory apart from the UK, Australia, the CIS and a few Asian territories which are still under negotiation.
  • Lupfer quits TPS for Canal Plus

    Didier Lupfer, the former head of movie channels at French digital satellite service TPS, is moving to the platform's archrival Canal Plus, where he takes up the role of programme development chief.Lupfer will be responsible for the creation of channels destined for Canal Plus' future digital terrrestrial franchise - which are expected to include a movie-themed channel. He will report to general manager in charge of programmes Alain de Greef and programming manager Bibiane Godefroy.
  • Maybe Baby

    Dir: Ben Elton. UK. 2000. 102 mins.Prod Co: Pandora/BBC Films. Int'l sales: Pandora Cinema (+33 1 40 70 90 90). Prod: Phil McIntyre. Exec prods: Ernst Goldschmidt, David M Thompson. Assoc Prod: Lucy Ansbro. Scr: Ben Elton. DoP: Roger Lanser. Prod Des: Jim Clay. Ed: Peter Hollywood. Mus: Colin Towns. Main cast: Hugh Laurie, Joely Richardson, Adrian Lester, James Purefoy, Tom Hollander.A witty, big-hearted comedy on the pitfalls and pratfalls of procreation, Maybe Baby
  • Metro Tartan bags Mood For Love, Faithless

    UK distributor Metro Tartan has picked up Cannes competitors In The Mood For Love and Faithless, plus Miike Takashi's extremist psycho-thriller Audition.The move follows USA Films' acquisition for North America of Wong Kar-wai's In The Mood from Fortissimo Film Sales at Cannes. Tony Leung, who stars in the Hong Kong romantic drama opposite Maggie Cheung, won the award for Best Male Performance at Cannes, while the film also came away with the Technical Grand
  • Mission drives US box to all-time high

    The North American opening of Mission: Impossible 2 has broken a raft of box office records across its Memorial weekend debut, grossing an estimated six-day figure of $92.8m from Wednesday June 24 to Monday June 29. In the traditional four-day Memorial slot, the John Woo directed blockbuster raked in around $71m - only beaten by The Lost World: Jurassic Park's $90.2m in 1997 - but if predictions are confirmed this will propel the holiday weekend to an estimated all-time h
  • MK2 rings up sales on Chabrol's Chocolat

    France's MK2 has secured several sales on Claude Chabrol's upcoming film Merci Pour Le Chocolat. Among distributors that have recently taken the film are Italy's Mikado, Canada's Remstar, Spain's Wanda, Greece's Robebud and Belgium's Les Films de L'Elysees.Concorde/Telemuenchen had already bagged German rights to the title - which stars Isabelle Huppert and Jacques Dutronc and is currently in post-production - prior to Cannes.MK2 has also enjoyed brisk sales on Michael Ha
  • Nielsen, Amberwood form joint production venture

    Actor Leslie Nielsen and Canadian animation house Amberwood Entertainment have entered into a joint venture to produce a range of family-oriented TV and video projects as well as a live-action theatrical feature with Nielsen in the lead.In all, the deal will see 390 half-hour animated episodes, three animated feature-length productions for broadcast or straight to video as well as the film. Nielsen, best known as the guileless bumbling Lieut. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun movie
  • Parker renews first-look deal with Universal

    UK film-maker Alan Parker may not have as much time as he would like to make films since taking up the chairmanship of the government's film super body the Film Council - but at least he can take his time.The director of Angela's Ashes, Evita and The Commitments has renewed his first-look deal with Universal Pictures for another two years. Parker, who works through his London-based production outfit Dirty Hands, will work with Graeme Mason, the UK-based president o
  • Prisa to go ahead with float in June

    Spanish media empire Grupo Prisa is pushing ahead with flotation plans and will offer up to 20% of its shares on June 12, according to reports in Prisa-owned financial newspaper Cinco Dias. Sources at the Group declined to comment while the operation awaits approval from the national market commission (CNMV). Prisa had previously announced in March the flotation of up to 25% of its shares. Analysts debated whether the Group would go ahead with its plans while other media
  • Purely Belter

    Dir: Mark Herman. UK. 2000. 97 mins.Prod cos: Elizabeth Karlsen, Mumbo Jumbo, London. Int'l Sales: FilmFour International. Scr: Mark Herman from The Season Ticket by Joanthan Tulloch. DoP: Andy Collins. Prod design: Don Taylor. Ed: Michael Ellis. Music: Ian Broudie, Michael Gibbs. Main cast: Chris Beattie, Greg McLane, Charlie Hardwick, Kevin Whately, Tim Healy, Roy Hudd.Purely Belter is a story you want to like from the start, and you certainly do by the finish. B
  • Scott Thomas indulges in Original Bliss

    UK actress Kristin Scott Thomas has optioned film rights to Original Bliss, A L Kennedy's acclaimed book about the complexities of sex or the lack of it.Eclipse Management, the production and management company recently launched by former William Morris Agency executives Charles Finch and Luc Roeg, confirmed the move, made through the actress' Paris-based production outfit Kristin Scott Thomas Productions.Although Eclipse, which represents the actress in the UK, aims to produce
  • SF Bio to open 14-screen multiplex in Malmo

    Scandinavia's largest exhibitor SF Bio, has struck a deal with Krona Plc, to become an anchor tenant at the new Urban Entertainment Centre in Malmo, Sweden, where it plans to open a 14-screen multiplex.The 2,000-seat cinema will go into construction June next year in time for a 2003 opening. Geographically the project is set to benefit from the Oresunds Bridge, set to open this summer, which will connect Malmo and southern Sweden with Denmark.SF Bio CEO Jan Bernhardsson said: "T
  • Shanghai Noon

    Dir: Tom Dey. US. 2000. 110 mins.Prod cos: Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment. US dist: Buena Vista. Int'l dist (major territories excl Germany, Japan): Buena Vista Intl. Other intl sales: Spyglass Entertainment. Prods: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman. Exec prods: Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Solon So. Scr: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar. DoP: Dan Mindel. Prod des: Peter J Hampton. Ed: Richard Chew. Music: Randy Edelman. Main cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu
  • Songs From The Second Floor

    Dir: Roy Andersson. Sweden-Denmark-Norway-Germany-France. 2000. 100 mins.Prod cos: Roy Andersson Filmproduktion AB in co-production with Sveriges Television AB, SVT Drama, Danmarks Radio, Norsk Rikskringkasting, Arte France Cinema, Societe Parisienne de Production, Essential Filmproduktion GmbH, Easy Film A/S, ZDF in collaboration with ARTE, in association with Canal Plus. Int'l Sales: The Coproduction Office (+30 3277 7879). Exec prod: Philippe Bober. Prod: Lisa Alwert. Scr: Anders
  • Sony Classics takes US rights to Verticale

    Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) is close to acquiring North American rights to A La Verticale De L'Ete, directed by Vietnamese director Anh Hung Tran, which screened at Cannes in Un Certain Regard. Le Studio Canal Plus is handling international sales on the film, one of several Asian titles to secure US distribution during Cannes.SPC has also acquired North American rights to The Luzhin Defense, a period romance directed by Marleen Gorris with John Turturro and Emily
  • South Australian government ups investment in film

    South Australia's government has put aside an additional A$1m ($577,000) a year over three years to invest in Australian and international films that either shoot or undertake post-production in the state. The figure represents more than double the government's current commitment. Minister for Arts Diana Laidlaw announced the move as part of the 2000/01 budget. She referred to the "growing Hollywood domination of the film industry in the eastern states" and positioned South Australia a
  • Spyglass in talks to buy part of Mann Theaters

    Spyglass Entertainment, the two-year-old production and distribution operation that hit the jackpot last year with The Sixth Sense, is believed to be negotiating its first move into the exhibition business. In league with former exhibition and Fox Searchlight executive Jim Naify, Spyglass principals Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber are in talks to acquire a handful of theatres in and around Los Angeles for a reported $15m. The cinemas are part of the 357-screen Mann Theaters circu
  • Star stalls on joint venture with HKT

    The future of a pay-TV and Internet joint venture between Star TV and Cable & Wireless HKT has been cast into doubt after Star TV questioned the viability of the proposal.Star TV, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and a leading provider of satellite programming in South-East Asia, said it was still negotiating to develop "an acceptable" business plan before the June 30 deadline for agreement with HKT."While we remain bullish about the future of pay-TV service, we do have incr
  • Star TV, HKT scrap pay-TV, Internet venture

    Star TV, News Corp's Asian broadcast subsidiary, and Cable & Wireless HKT have called off their plans to set up a joint venture pay-TV and Internet service in Hong Kong.The two companies' only explanation for the "mutual and amicable" policy reversal was that they no longer shared the same vision for the future.James Murdoch, who this week was announced as chairman and chief executive: said "We had concerns about the business model and the partners couldn't decide the best way
  • Starry Hong Kong floats for $24m, an entertainment portal formed by Hong Kong celebrities, rode a local market rally on its flotation yesterday to raise $24m (HK$200.6m).The company was listed for the first time on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM), a tech-oriented listing. Chief executive officer Philip Wong said the cash raised could support operations until March next year.Wong said that having access to local artists would keep promotional costs low, and that the company would try to increa
  • The King Is Alive

    Dir: Kristian Levring. Denmark. 2000. 109 minsProd Co: Zentropa Entertainments 5. Int'l Sales: Good Machine. Prods: Patricia Kruijer, Vibeke Windelov. Exec prods: William A Tyrer, Chris J Ball, David Linde, Peter Aalbaek Jensen. Scr: Kristian Levring, Anders Thomas Jensen. DoP: Jens Schlosser. Ed: Nicholas Wayman Harris. Main cast: Miles Anderson, Romane Bohringer, Bruce Davison, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer.The tried and trusted dramatic device of disparate strange
  • Toei Video resurrects Battles Without Honour

    Japan's Toei Video is reviving its signature Battles Without Honor Or Humanity television series, originally launched by cult Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku in 1973. Based on true accounts of gang wars in Hiroshima, the nine-part series, which ran until 1979, not only established Fukasaku's reputation, but gave a new lease of life to the faltering yakuza genre.The first instalment of the new series, titled New Battles Without Honor Or Humanity (Shin Jingi No Tatakai)
  • UK, Italy strike new co-production pact

    Producers can qualify as international co-production partners just by financial contributions instead of having to have a creative and technical input under a revised Anglo-Italian production pact, the UK government announced on Thursday.The move comes hard on the heels of a major shake-up in UK support for local productions and international co-productions, whereby film super body the Film Council earmarked 20% of National Lottery-backed funds for European co-productions. That means a
  • UK's Rank agrees theme park sale to US' Blackstone

    UK leisure group Rank Group Plc has reached an initial agreement to sell its 50% stake in Florida's Universal Studios Escape to US private equity firm Blackstone Capital for $275 million, Rank said on Friday.Under the pact, Rank will also receive up to $75 million if Blackstone achieves a target level of return on its investment. Rank, which put its holding in the theme park up for sale as part its disposal of non-core assets, aims for the deal to be finalised in three months. The park
  • Under Suspicion

    Dir: Stephen Hopkins. US. 2000. 111mins.Prod Co: Revelations Entertainment. Int'l Sales: TF1 International. Prod: Lori McCreary, Anne Marie Gillen, Stephen Hopkins. Exec prod: Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman. Scr: Tom Provost, W. Peter Iliff based on the film Garde A Vue by Claude Miller, Jean Herman, Michel Audiard. Garde A Vue based on the novel Brainwash by John Wainwright. DoP: Peter Levy. Prod des: Cecilia Montel. Ed: John Smith. Music: BT. Main cast: Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
  • United Artists notches up sales on hot trio

    United Artists has sold Girlfight, Kingdom Come and Songcatcher to a raft of territories following the trio's sale to Shochiku for Japan at Cannes.Girlfight went to Australia (REP); South Africa (Ster-Kinekor); Portugal (Atalanta); Israel (Shani); Benelux (Cinelibre); and the Middle East (Almassa). The Sundance and Cannes title previously went to Key Film for Italy at the AFM.Kingdom was sold on the back on a 10-minute promo to Spain (Alta); Is
  • Via Digital makes production move with Querejeta

    Spanish digital satellite platform Via Digital has made its definitive entrance into the domestic production sector with the signing of a new accord with veteran producer Elias Querejeta.Under the terms of the deal, Via will co-produce and broadcast forthcoming feature films, TV series and documentaries from Querejeta's self-named, Madrid-based production outfit.Among the feature film projects already in the works are:The Back Of The World (La Espalda Del Mundo),
  • West 175 negotiates Natural Nylon investment

    New Zealand-based media company West 175 Enterprises is in talks to invest in the UK's Natural Nylon, a spokesperson for the Britpack production outfit confirmed on Thursday.The talks could lead to West 175 taking a stake in the production venture founded by actors such as Ewan McGregor and Jude Law and producer-partners Damon Bryant and Bradley Adams.West 175, understood to be one of several companies interested in backing Natural Nylon, has not been involved in production bef