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20 April 2001

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  • Africa, Middle East offer cinema growth potential

    Beleaguered cinema exhibitors, increasingly concerned about the growth potential in overcrowded Western markets, could benefit by expanding into the world's nascent cinema markets such as Africa and the Middle East. Cinemagoing Africa Middle East, a new report from film industry analysts Dodona Research, predicts that while screen count in many of the region's territories is low, admissions in the six most developed cinema markets will rise 40% by 2005 - reaching 127m.Currently,
  • Assante, Forster, Caruso head Promark action trio

    Arman Assante, David Caruso and Robert Forster head the casts of a slate of new action-thrillers unveiled by film and TV group Promark Entertainment. All three pictures will be co-produced with German post-production powerhouse Das Werk, marking the first time that the two companies have co-operated on a creative level since Das Werk acquired a 73% stake last October. First up is the $6m Federal Protection, which starts principal photography next month. Assante plays a m
  • Australia rings the changes to awards rules

    Starting this year, films will only qualify for Australia's principal awards system if they have had a theatrical release in the previous year. Until now eligibility for AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards has instead been on the basis of when a film was made, often resulting in released pictures being pitted against those that had not yet been released. The move addresses criticism that few people voted under the old system. The AFI hopes the change will limit the number of
  • Bille August seduced by Lola's Maid Of Buttermere

    Spanish producer Lolafilms has signed two-time Palme d'Or winner Bille August to direct The Maid Of Buttermere, a long-gestating period love tale set in England's Lake District.No cast has yet been confirmed for the film, which was written by Raymond Khoury as an adaptation of a novel by intellectual, TV presenter and author Melvyn Bragg. A start date is also uncertain given the film's Lakeland setting, which is close to one of the centres of foot and mouth disease in the UK. Pr
  • Branagh plays Russian Czar in star-heavy Napoleon

    Kenneth Branagh will join the already stellar cast of the Ffr250m French mini-series Napoleon, an English-language co-production which unites seven countries and will start shooting May 21. Produced by French big-budget TV drama specialist GMT Productions , previously responsible for Monte Cristo and Les Miserables, the four-part historical drama is co-produced with public broadcaster France 2 and Gerard Depardieu's DD Productions. Financial backing comes from the
  • Bridget director takes new aim at Austen

    Sharon Maguire, whose debut feature Bridget Jones's Diary this weekend became the biggest UK opener ever, is to direct Mail, a modern-day Jane Austen-style comedy of manners for the UK's Archer Street. Set in Boston, the project sees Maguire return to the fertile ground of her debut, itself based on a book inspired by Austen's Pride And Prejudice. The script is being written by playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who also adapted Jennifer Aniston-vehicle The Object Of
  • Bridget Jones breaks UK opening record

    Handled by UIP, Bridget Jones's Diary achieved record opening figures in its crucial UK home market.Including two days of previews on Wednesday and Thursday, before its official opening, its $8.24m gross take (£5,720,292) from 417 sites makes it the biggest opening of all time for a British-made film. Even discounting the preview figures, which account for $1.64m (£1,140,287) of that total, the comedy still finished ahead of Notting Hill's $6.23m (£4,323,678) achie
  • Cannes Competition and Un Certain Regard lists

    2001 CANNES COMPETITION:Opening film (in competition): Moulin Rouge Baz Luhrmann (Dist: 20th Fox)Desert Moon Shinji Aoyama (Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams)Mulholland Drive David Lynch (Int'l sales: StudioCanal)The Man Who Wasn't There Joel Coen (Int'l Sales: Good Machine)Shrek Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson (Dist: DreamWorks SKG)L'Eloge De L'Amour Jean-Luc Godard (Int'l sales: Wild Bunch
  • Cannes technology mart fills available floor space

    MITIC - the showcase for new entertainment technologies which takes place in Cannes at the same time as the festival and market - has declared that all exhibition floor space at the event has been booked.Located in the Palais des Festivals, MITIC (the Marche International desTechniques et de l'Innovation du Cinema) has been running since 1998 as an official part of the film festival under the direction of the Cannes Marche.Among the exhibiting companies are Sony Broadcast
  • Cannes technology mart fills available floor space

    OFFICE - CANNESHOTEL CARLTONGalerie du CarltonLa Croisette06400 CannesFRANCEAdvertisingEditorial(: 04 93 99 81 44
  • Cannes US Pavilion brings over three top chefs

    Bon Appetit Magazine has signed on as the official food and entertaining magazine of The American Pavilion at Cannes this year as well as taking the title of exclusive sponsor of the Pavilion's Culinary programme.Bon Appetit will showcase the talents of three attending chefs at the Pavilion - Mari Batali, Bobby Flay and Rocco Dispirito. Batali is famous in the US for his TV shows Molto Mario and Mario Eats Italy and his three New York restaurants Babbo, Lupa and Esca. Flay, famous for
  • CNAC funding quest stymied by Venezuela govt

    Maurice Reyna, appointed president of Venezuelan film institute Centro Nacional Autonomo de Cinematografia (CNAC) in February, has lost the first round of his battle with the Chavez government for more support. The Caracas government approved CNAC's 2001 budget of $1.07m (761m) Bolivars) yesterday (April 17), an amount Reyna declared completely "inadmissible and lacking." Reyna had lobbied the government to double CNAC's 2000 budget of $1.5m in order to better address the needs of the
  • Commercial channel RTL urged to board German fund

    Michael Schmid-Ospach, successor to Dieter Kosslick as executive director of German regional funding board, Filmstiftung NRW, has called on leading commercial broadcaster RTL to join public TV stations WDR and ZDF as shareholders in the funding body.Speaking this week ahead of officially taking up his post on May 1, Schmid-Ospach declared that it was "extremely urgent" that RTL came onboard and that the absence of the Cologne-based channel "as the market leader and with headquarters in
  • Coote spearheads Intertainer's VOD launch in Asia

    Intertainer Asia, the licensee of US VoD service Intertainer Inc., will launch a broadband entertainment-on-demand network with Singaporean telco SingTel at the end of May and is pursuing similar launches in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan.Executive Chairman Greg Coote told Screen Daily that the Singapore-based company is market testing its service with New Zealand Telecom and has signed a memorandum of understanding with Hong Kong Telecom. It is close to deals in Korea
  • Critics Week favours tough eclectic mix

    Ken Loach's 1969 film Kes - which is to be given a special screening - will be the token British film in a wide-ranging Critics Week line-up which includes no other English-language title. The sidebar, which runs 10-18 May and is managed by France's film critics' union, has picked a selection of challenging films from first and second time directors. The absence of contemporary English-language pictures comes despite chief selector Jose Maria Riba apparent interest in three
  • Critics' Week selection takes to the road

    The Critics' Week, which earlier this week unveiled its line-up of films by first and second time directors, is to reach a public beyond Cannes by going on tour. The 2001 selection will replay at the Cinematheque Corse in Porto-Vecchio (Corsica) on May 23, 24, 25 and 26 and Cinema des Cineastes in Paris (June 21-23). The series will be picked up in Rome, by the National Association of Cinema Auteurs (ANAC) from June 6-10 and the Savannah Film Festival (Georgia, US) will programme the l
  • Crocodile Dundee in LA in Australia

    Crocodile Dundee In LA, the third film in Australia's most successful franchise ever, was the most popular film over the Easter weekend grossing A$2.25m ($1.13m) from 234 screens from its opening Thursday April 12 to Monday April 16. In its favour were two public holidays, but these were offset by superb autumn weather in most of the key markets.School holidays and yet another public holiday next week will continue to help it along. The result is strong despite some reviews pain
  • Cutting Edge takes over int'l sales of Pollock

    David Glasser's Cutting Edge Entertainment has taken up international sales rights on Ed Harris' Oscar-winner Pollock after the original sales agent Alliance Atlantis Pictures International returned the film to its producers."The producers and I had a disagreement on the post-Oscar direction the international sales effort should take," explained Alliance Atlantis Pictures International president Mark Horowitz. "Since my admiration for the picture would not allow me to let it be
  • Dreamworks signs to Universal for five more years

    After intense speculation that it was about to clinch a deal with AOL Time Warner's Warner Bros Pictures, DreamWorks SKG has extended for five years its distribution agreement with Universal Studios, now owned by Vivendi Universal.The agreement first struck in June 1995 gives Universal international theatrical distribution rights to live action and animated films from DreamWorks as well as worldwide home video, music distribution rights and the rights to use characters and concepts cre
  • Dublin fest gets Wild About Harry

    This month's Dublin Film Festival (April 20-29) kicks off with Wild About Harry, the debut feature from Declan Lowney, the Irish director better known for his work on UK TV series such as Cold Feet and Father Ted. Written by Ireland's most prolific screenwriter, Colin Bateman, the Northern Ireland-set comedy stars Brendan Gleeson as an obnoxious TV cook who has an accident on the eve of his divorce and becomes his more likeable self from 25 years earlier. The opening evening wil
  • Egmont signs output deal with Zentropa and Nimbus

    Nordic major Egmont Entertainment has struck an output deal with Denmark's two most progressive production outfits, Zentropa and Nimbus Film, securing all theatrical and video distribution rights in Denmark. "We are very proud to be working with Zentropa and Nimbus Film," said Kenneth D Plummer, managing director of Egmont Entertainment, "they both represent the innovative and creative filmmaking which have placed Denmark on the map as one of the leading film nations in Europe."
  • EM.TV appoints banker as chairman

    Bernd Thiemann has replaced Nickolaus Becker as supervisory chairman at the beleaguered German entertainment concern EM.TV & Merchandising.Thiemann is a former chairman of DG Bank.Becker, who had clashed with EM.TV's founder Thomas Haffa on the share deal with the KirchGroup, left the company on March 31.EM.TV's supervisory board will also be extended to six members from the present three with the appointment of corporate consultant Roland Berger, media lawyer Ronald Frohne and
  • Fantasporto festival extends role as distributor

    Portugal's Cooperativa Cinema Novo, organisers of the Oporto International Film Festival (aka Fantasporto) have picked up all rights in Portugal on a handful of films from the festival's recent 21st edition. Recent pick-ups include The Price Of Milk, The Irrefutable Truth About Demons, The Filth And The Fury, Purely Belter, Possessed, Lontano In Fondo Agli Ochi, Non Con Un Bang, The Isle (Seom), Happy End, Subcons
  • Filmline founder Clermont dies suddenly

    Nicolas Clermont, one of Canada's leading independent producers, has died aged 59. President of Montreal-based production company Filmline International, Clermont oversaw several major films, most recently The Art Of War, which was co-produced with Franchise Pictures and starred Wesley Snipes. It was the highest-grossing Canadian film of 2000. Clermont was in production on another high-profile action film, Renny Harlin's A Sound Of Thunder, again partnered with Franchise
  • Firelight Films to debut with Lifelines

    Carmen Menegazzi, former head of Columbia TriStar's UK theatrical arm, has partnered on local drama Lifelines with UK media operation Zenith Entertainment for the first project from her production outfit Firelight Films.Menegazzi and Zenith have struck a co-development deal on the £3m project, which is being written by Bridget Lawless. Other projects in development at Firelight include a romantic comedy, a historical drama, a psychological thriller and a New York-set comedy.
  • Highlights from this week's Screen International

    Raising Venezuela"They think I'm crazy and that has helped open doors," CNAC chief, Maurice ReynaExecutive Suite Disc Drive"You will see things on DVD that you couldn't sell on VHS"News focusMoney Talks"People have started to make films with a multiplex audience in mind"Round Table Hole new concept"It was a genre movie, overtly commercial, but in a classy way"Case Study Going The DistanceMark Schilling likens Hirokazu Kore-Eda's slow-burn topical dram
  • Hong Kong legends light up Filmko's debut slate

    New films by leading Asian directors Tsui Hark, Ann Hui and Stanley Kwan top a debut slate unveiled by Hong Kong-based production newcomer Filmko Pictures. The company, which is headed by Alex Wong and directors Derek Yee and Jacob Cheung, was set up last August with the aim of expanding the horizons of Hong Kong cinema through a range of global themed productions and co-productions.Filmko's first production, Cheung's Midnight Fly, is set to premiere at Cannes next month.
  • IEG picks Pickering to head sales thrust

    Veteran sales executive Pamela Pickering has, as expected, announced that she is leaving her job as president of Mutual Film International to join Graham King at Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) where she will head up international sales and distribution operations.There she will be responsible for the international sales, distribution and marketing of the company's productions and co-financing efforts including Gangs Of New York with Miramax Films/Disney and Ali with Co
  • Indie community mourns Kermit Smith

    A funeral service was held today for Kermit Smith, one of Italy's most highly recognised producers and distributors of independent film. Aged 48, he died on Thursday (April 12) after a brief illness. Widely admired for championing the causes of independent and quality film with passion and a strong business acumen, Smith was the Italian distributor of such films as The Usual Suspects, Shine, Breaking Waves, Before Night Falls and Saving Grace. Born in Chicago in 19
  • Joe Dirt

    Dir: Dennie Gordon. US. 2001. 86mins.Saturday Night Live alumnus David Spade who, despite many tries, has failed to front a hit movie (unlike fellow SNL-ers Adam Sandler and Mike Myers), makes another stab at a crossover with this comedy vehicle, co-written with Black Sheep and Tommy Boy collaborator Fred Wolf. Executive produced by Sandler himself, Joe Dirt is unlikely to launch Spade into the $20m-a-film club of which Sandler and Myers are members. Nevertheles
  • Karlovy Vary unveils initial film selections

    Czech title Angel Exit, directed by Vladimir Michalek, will screen in competition at this summer's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the event has revealed. Luminaries expected to travel to the historic spa town include celebrated director Emir Kusturica, who is to screen his music documentary Super 8 Stories. The festival, which runs July 5 - 14, is hoping that Kusturica and his band No Smoking will stage a concert. Heading the festival's grand jury will be Polis
  • Lot 47 appoints Scotland PA

    New York based Lot 47 Films has picked up all North American rights to Scotland PA, a new comedy from writer-director Billy Morrissette. The company describes Scotland PA as: 'a modern-day update of Macbeth crossed with an episode of Columbo'. It stars James LeGros and Maura Tierney and Christopher Walken. The film got its world-premiere at this year's Sundance festival, where Lot 47's also grabbed L.I.E.Due for release in January 2002, the film extends lot 47's acquisiti
  • Madden to be honoured in Bermuda

    John Madden, director of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Shakespeare In Love and Mrs Brown, is to receive the Prospero Award for Excellence in Film at the fourth edition of the Bermuda International Film Festival April 20-26. Opening the event is One Night At McCool's, starring Liv Tyler and Matt Dillon, while Julien Temple's Pandaemonium has the closing night slot. The 15-title competition includes The Stranger, from Austria, Maze, with Laura
  • Microsoft agrees to EC cable conditions

    A European Commission (EC) antitrust inquiry into Microsoft's investments in European cable companies has been wound down after the company promised to modify existing technology pacts with two digital cable operators.'Microsoft has agreed to modify its relationship with two partner companies in order not to exercise undue influence over their choice of set-top box technologies,' the EC said in a statement, following the 10-month investigation.The EC's investigation looked into
  • Miramax tops Easter weekend

    Spy Kids topped the box office for the third week running despite stiff competition from three new entries - Miramax Films' Bridget Jones' Diary, Columbia Pictures' Joe Dirt and Universal Pictures' Josie And The Pussycats. Over the three-day Easter weekend, Spy Kids from Miramax/Dimension grossed a sterling $12.8m, bringing its three week total to $68.6m; Paramount's Along Came A Spider came second in its second weekend with $11.3m and a ten da
  • Natural Nylon boards Mahowny as UK co-producer

    UK production outfit Natural Nylon has boarded Richard Kwietniowski's Owning Mahowny, currently shooting in Canada, as UK co-production partner. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver and John Hurt, the drama is now a UK/Canada co production between H20 Motion Pictures (Canada), Alliance Atlantis (Canada) and Natural Nylon (UK). Producers are Andras Hamori of H20 and Seaton McLean, president of Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Production.Although Natural Nylon's three
  • New top dogs give added bark to Dutch industry

    The complexion of the Dutch film industry could be set for dramatic change following the appointment of new chiefs at all three of The Netherlands' major film institutions: the Dutch Film Fund, the Filmmuseum and the Maurits Binger Institute.After months of speculation it was announced that broadsheet journalist Toine Berbers is to take over from taking over from Ryclef Rienstra at the Dutch Film Fund. Rienstra left on Feb 1 to start a cultural fund backed by Endemol founder Joop van
  • New York opens Los Angeles festival

    Ed Burns' fourth feature, Sidewalks Of New York, will have its world premiere as the opening night film of the Los Angeles Film Festival (April 20-28). Paramount Classics has domestic rights to the picture, a romantic comedy starring Burns, Heather Graham, Stanley Tucci, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson and Dennis Farina. This year's festival also features a horror showcase, which includes a screening of John Carpenter's 1978 classic, Halloween, and two new chillers
  • NonStop subscribes to Swedish Dream

    Sweden's NonStop Sales has secured rights to Swedish feel-good movie, Dream, from new production outfit Finalcut Entertainment. The English-language romantic comedy-drama, which was shot on location in Sheffield, and London on a $3.5m (SKR35m) budget, stars UK veterans Sinead Cusack and Philip Martin Brown as well as EastEnders TV actor Joe Absolom in his feature debut. The story is of a 16 year-old girl and her boyfriend, who both have a dream, but not the same one. Drea
  • Nouvelle Vague meets New Vanguard on Croisette

    This year's Cannes Film Festival presents an intriguing clash between enfant terribles of world cinema past and present, as old guard auteurs take on a bevy of recent Croisette favourites plus a smattering of unknown quantities and the first ever Hollywood animation in competition.The Official Selection, as ever an annual reflection of the world's current creative film-making hotspots, is notably strong in French, Japanese and other Asian talent, but light on German, Nordic and
  • Online spending overtakes cinema ads in UK

    For all the predictions of dotcom gloom and doom, the UK's on-line advertising sector overtook cinema advertising last year.The data compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the Internet Advertising Bureau shows that the UK did not follow the US internet advertising market into downturn. Figures from Forrester Research shows advertising revenue in 2000 reached $223m (£155m), compared with an estimated $184m (£128m) spent in cinemas, according to the Cinema Advertising Assoc
  • Post-Crouching Columbia backs four new Asian films

    Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia - the Asian local production arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment - has announced four new films which it will finance in 2001.The Hong Kong-based company, headed by managing director Barbara Robinson, has enjoyed enormous success since it was launched in early 1999 with Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, two from Zhang Yimou - Not One Less and The Road Home and Tsui Hark's Time And Tide.The four new films
  • Russian studios consider privatisation options

    Russia's film studios are considering turning themselves into private companies following the signing of a new decree by President Vladimir Putin.Putin this week signed two controversial decrees that lay down a strategy for the future of the Russian film industry and pave the way for the creation of a National Film Fund that will hold the rights for films produced under the Soviet system.Since the measures do not contain any provision for funding the new bodies, nor do they make
  • Seattle beefs up local industry support

    West Coast indie outfit, Seattle Pictures has beefed up its executive team with the formation of a Producer Advisory Board, headed by Larry Estes, Scott Rosenfelt and Thomas Lee Wright.Estes and Rosenfelt have already spearheaded the promotion, marketing and distribution of independent films through their company SearchParty Films. They now team up with production executive and former screenwriting instructor Wright. Wright, whose most recent film Trade Off was voted Bes
  • Shore, Fridriksson top debut UK slate for F.&.M.E.

    New films by Get Real director Simon Shore and Icelandic maestro Fridrik Thor Fridriksson head the debut slate of F.&.M.E. (UK), the new British outpost of German group F.A.M.E.F.&.M.E. (UK), which is managed by Mike Downey and production head Sam Taylor, has unveiled a line-up of five new features it has originated and three which it has boarded as co-producer.The outfit is to focus on contemporary genres, drama, thrillers and horror, and will call on established and upc
  • Showtime buys 20-film ITC package from Carlton

    US pay TV network Showtime Networks has bought the domestic premium TV broadcast rights to a package of more than 20 pictures from Carlton International's ITC library. Under the terms of the multi-year arrangement, Showtime will have premium TV rights to films such as On Golden Pond, Sophie's Choice, Farewell My Lovely (the 1975 version with Robert Mitchum), Escape To Athena and The Cassandra Crossing.The deal was negotiated by Carlton America's vice
  • Sony buys broadcast rights for Yashraj library

    Sony Entertainment Television has acquired five-year multiple broadcast rights for Yashraj Film's library for around $3.5m.The rights will be restricted to the Asian region and include Mohabbatein, Dil To Pagal Hai and Darr. Sony TV will start a three-month movie festival of Yashraj Film's movies beginning this August with Dilwale Dulhaniyan Le Jayenge. In addition, Sony TV channel SetMax will air two Yashraj movies every month.With this acquisition, Sony wh
  • Terry Semel named new CEO of Yahoo!

    Former Warner Bros titan Terry Semel has surprised the entertainment world by being named the new chief executive and chairman of Yahoo!, the struggling Internet portal that has been frequently bandied as a merger candidate for virtually every Hollywood studio conglomerate in town.He replaces Tim Koogle, who will stay at the once high-flying dot-com darling as the transitional vice chairman until August 1st. Both Yahoo!'s existing president and chief operating officer Jeff Mallett and
  • Thinking outside the Fox: Slaviero quits Oz branch

    Robert Slaviero, Australian managing director of Twentieth Century Fox Film Distributors, created a shock wave when he officially resigned on Tuesday (Apr 17). Slaviero said it was an amicable separation and he is doing everything possible to create a smooth transition up to his departure on July 6.It is very rare for the Australian head of a US studio distributor to leave except where joint ventures are dissolving or they are transferring back overseas. But after nearly 12 year
  • This week's Screen International

    In this week's Screen InternationalNewsHow Viacom's decision not to sell Blockbuster represents a strong vote of confidence in the home video market - despite, or because, of the impact of DVD. How DreamWorks' extension of its distribution deal with Universal Studios surprised everyone - especially Warner Bros.Focus: Taboo breaker"A hustler in the fur of a teddy bear." It shouldn't be possible for such an overtly independent prod
  • Turner bid for NTV wobbly after staff exodus

    The consortium bid led by Ted Turner to buy into Russian broadcaster NTV looks wobbly after journalists and staff left the station en masse this week. The exodus was prompted by the forceful takeover of the station by its new Gazprom-appointed managers last weekend.NTV journalists, who had been refusing to co-operate with the new general director Boris Jordan, are producing their own programmes and news service from THT another Moscow station still controlled by Vladimir Guzinsky's Med
  • Woo's Windtalkers snapped up for France and Italy

    President Films, the film sales division of France Television Distribution, and Italy's RAI Cinema have pre-bought all French and Italian rights (including pay-TV) to MGM's Windtalkers. The film is directed by John Woo and stars Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater and is currently in post-production.Windtalkers carries a $120m price tag, which is unprecedented for MGM and the studio has now decided to off-load some international rights. The deal was made through MGM's inter
  • Yamakasi

    Benny Crick in ParisDirs: Ariel Zeitoun, Julien Seri. France. 2001. 90mins.With his Taxi and Taxi 2 notched among the all-time French commercial blockbusters, Luc Besson (in his capacity as producer-writer but not director) appears to have struck a new vein of box office gold. Yamakasi has tapped into the same young audiences that have made Taxi a cultural phenomenon and profit-spinning franchise. Its first week in France saw it enter the bo

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