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21 April 2003

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  • Anger manages to quell all newcomers

    Jack Nicholsonand Adam Sandler continued to rule the charts as Columbia/Revolution's AngerManagement grossed aterrific $25.6m in its second weekend for an $80.3m running total, according tostudio estimates released today (Sunday).The hit comedyexpanded by 19 sites into a massive 3,570 theatres and looks good to retain thecrown next week, although it will face competition from the MGM comedy opener ItRuns In The Family andColumbia's new thriller Identity.In a
  • Anger unleashed in Australia with $2m opening

    In the firstmajor international release for its number one US film Anger Management, Columbia TriStar Film DistributorsInternational (CTFDI) opened the comedy at number one in Australia on anaggressive $2m.In a raft ofterritory records, this was the second biggest April bow (bettered only by TheMatrix in 1999), thebiggest ever bow for Nicholson and the joint biggest ever for Sandler, tyingwith the release of The Waterboy in 1999.The film wasreleased on 324 p
  • Bon Voyage

    Dir: Jean-Paul Rappeneau. 2003. France. 114mins.Thirteen years after he adapted Jean Rostand's Cyrano De Bergerac and seven years after his swashbuckling take on Jean Giono's The Horseman On The Roof, Jean-Paul Rappeneau throws off the cultural shackles of the heritage feature and returns to his first love: the romantic adventure comedy. Bon Voyage, his seventh film in 37 years, is a blithely ironic, picaresque tale set against an historical backdrop Fren
  • Bruce Willis drops out of Intermedia's Me Again

    Bruce Willis and independent giant Intermedia Films have partedcompany on the thriller Me Again due to creative differences, the company announced today (Apr16).
  • Bulletproof Monk

    Dir: Paul Hunter. US. 2003. 104mins. Hollywood's latest attempt to infuse a familiar genre with added youth appeal casts Hong Kong legend Chow Yun-Fat in a slight but pleasantly breezy East-meets-West martial arts adventure leavened with odd couple comedy. To hardcore Chow fans - who have been waiting more than two years for a follow-up to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Bulletproof Monk will seem like very lightweight stuff. But with its PG-13 rating in the US and ch
  • Cannes Directors' Fortnight names first titles

    Under the management of Francois Da Silva, the new Cannes Director's Fortnight is beginning to take shape as an enlarged and experimental section with an emphasis on diversity.The first four films to be announced range from a Yakuza genre film, to an intense drama by a normally mainstream director and one of the first films to be made in Afghanistan since the US invasion of 2001. They are The Mother (pictured) by the UK's Roger Michell, Miike Takashi's Gozu, French
  • Cannes main jury line-up announced

    The Cannes Film Festival has announced the make-up of the main jury for this year's edition. As reported by Screendaily last week, Indian actress Aishwarya Rai has been confirmed along with American actress Meg Ryan, French actress Karin Viard and French actor and elder-statesman Jean Rochefort. Also on the panel are American director Steven Soderbergh, Bosnian director Danis Tanovic and Chinese director Jiang Wen. Rounding out the group is Italian writer Erri De Luca. Pa
  • Chartier quits Vortex to head up Arclight US office

    Nicolas Chartier- the co-founder of Vortex Pictures and former sales and acquisitionsexecutive at Myriad Pictures - has left Vortex to head up the US officefor Arclight Films.Chartier, whoseappointment became effective yesterday (Apr 15), will oversee all sales andacquisitions activities and will serve as the point person between Arclight,partner Spice Factory and the film fund Movision.In addition hewill be responsible for finding films, specifically from Europe and Australia,f
  • Children's films honoured at Swedish and German festivals

    At the fourth edition of the Swedish children's film festival Stockholm Film Festival Junior, Finnish production Hayflower And Quiltshoe (Heinahattu Ja Filttitossu) by Kaisa Rastimo won the award for best film. The Stockholm Film Festival Junior, which saw a record attendance of 7,000 young visitors this year, is further evidence of the growing interest in children's films from the Nordic region. Six of the twelve feature films that screened in comp
  • Danish director scores production hat trick

    The Danish Film Institute has put writer-director Jesper W. Nielsen (pictured) in a highly unusual situation for a Danish filmmaker. With its $792,700 (DKR 5.5m) backing for his new comedy Don't You Know John Lennon (working title), Nielsen will have had a new film released three years in a row. Last year saw the release of Okay, which secured two best actress film awards for Paprika Steen. This year he followed with drama The Bouncer starring high profile actors N
  • Fear And Trembling (Stupeur Et Tremblements)

    Dir: Alain Corneau. France. 2003. 107mins.An unusual French take on life in the Japanese workplace, Stupeur Et Tremblements (literally Fear And Trembling) is a tightly-executed social drama with a vein of absurdist humour discretely buried beneath the surface. The film, which by some accounts only just missed out on a place in the Berlin festival line-up, has made an honourable start on French commercial release taking $1.8m (326,000 admissions) after four weeks
  • Four S.A. majors join Dv8 in digital film initiative

    South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank, The National Film & Video Foundation, broadcaster SABC2, and distributor Ster-Kinekor have partnered with Jeremy Nathan's & Joel Phiri's Dv8 films to produce and distribute four digital feature films per year over three years.Dv8, a feature film initiative originally launched at the end of 2001, will develop, produce and market twelve South African digital feature films over the next three years. In an industry that is notorious for fragmentat
  • French admissions in March show weakness

    French cinemaadmissions in March hit 15.47 million, a gain of 3.4% compared with the samemonth last year. However according to data from the Centre National dela Cinematographie (CNC) the total for a rolling 12month period was down by 3.2% at 178.8 million, compared with 184.8 million. The CNC data also showed that for first quarter of2003 was 10.9% down on the first quarter of 2002, confirming earlier forecastsfrom the Federation National des Cinemas Francais(FNCF) (April 7).
  • French effects, post house files for bankruptcy protection

    French effects and post-production house Duran Duboi, which provided effects for Amelie, has filed for bankruptcy protection citing a downturn in the market.The crisis affects two of the group's main companies, Duran and Duboi - the former working in digital effects for television and the latter in digital effects for cinema.The company was created in 1983 and despite a healthy existence since, including work on such blockbusters as 2002 box-office leader Asterix And O
  • German producer readies Alone In The Dark adaptation

    Infogrames Entertainment's video arcade game Alone In The Dark is to be given the silver screen treatment by German director-producer Uwe Boll after his film version of Sega's cult game The House Of The Dead.Boll told that this new feature, which will be financed by the private film fund Dritte Boll Kino Beteiligungs-GmbH & Co. KG (3. Boll KG), will begin shooting in Vancouver from mid-July with special effects being handled either by a German or Canadian
  • Ghosts has strong domestic opening on 97 screens

    WaldenMedia's IMAX 3-D Titanic documentary Ghosts Of The Abyss grossed more than $1.4m over the weekendthrough domestic distributor Buena Vista, a terrific result for the largescreen format that averaged $14,520 on 97 screens.Devised and shotby James Cameron, who directed the all-time highest grossing film Titanic, Ghosts Of The Abyss follows Cameron, his friend actor BillPaxton and a coterie of marine experts in an underwater voyage through the
  • Head of development leaves Pathe UK

    Matt Gannon has decided to leave his position as head of development at Pathe's UK operation, managing director Francois Ivernel confirmed on Thursday.Although Gannon has developed some of the company's highest-profile productions - including The Magic Roundabout and Pride And Prejudice: The Bollywood Musical - Pathe is scaling back its longterm development activities.The operation aims to secure product more quickly for its sales and distribution pipelines and red
  • Italian exhibitors issue formal complaint to MPAA, distributors, government

    Italian exhibitors have formally complained to the MPAA, distributors and the Italian government about the lack of big pictures that are to be released in Italy this summer - and warned that the situation will damage future growth prospects of the local industry. In a letter published by local trade paper Il Giornale dello Spettacolo, exhibitors complained: "Despite efforts to improve technology and services, distributors are going to be releasing films that will have a hard tim
  • It's Raining Cows (Piovono Mucche)

    Dir: Luca Vendruscolo. Italy. 2003. 95 mins.Films about the disabled tend to fall into two camps: either they are 'you can do it!' Hollywood schmaltz-fests; or so rigidly worthy and politically correct that they end up boring the audience. This little Italian gem, however, which mixes able-bodied and handicapped actors, avoids both traps. Set in a community for the disabled somewhere near Rome, it is a resolutely small film shot on such a small budget that it had to be blown
  • Johnny English laughs its way to $20m opening weekend

    A wideday-and-date international launch for UIP/Working Title's JohnnyEnglish has paid off with a massive $19.98m recorded over the weekend (April 11-13)from the 22 territories that received the spy spoof. Deliberately placed a week prior toEaster, the Peter Howitt-directed film firmly addressedfamily audiences and took the number one spot in 20 of the 22 territoriesplayed. This was the widest e
  • Karlovy Vary unveils first films

    The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (July 4-12) has unveiled its preliminary programme.Among the slate of films to screen in the main competition will be two of this year's local hits, Jan Hrebejk's Pupendo (pictured) and Juraj Nvota's Czech-Slovak co-production Cruel Joys. The Festival has also announced it will honour acclaimed Czech director Jiri Menzel (who directed such new-wave classics as Larks On A String and Closely Watched Trains, t
  • Kenneth Rive memorial

    On Tuesday next week (April 29) anall-industry event will take place at the National Film Theatre to celebratethe life and work of Ken Rive, who died on December 30 at the age of 84.His involvement in the filmindustry started at an early age when his father went to work in Germany as a cameraman and the young Ken appeared in several films, many of which were shown a few years agoas a retrospective at the Pordenone Film FestivalHe founded Gala Film Distributorsin the mid-1950s, a
  • La Caja 507 wins Cognac festival main prize

    The 21st edition of the Cognac Festival of Film Policier closed Sunday night with Enrique Urbizu's La Caja 507 taking the grand prize. The Spanish film, which was nominated for two Goyas in 2002, also scored wins with the International Critics' Prize, the Special Police Prize - an award voted on by a group of law enforcement officers - and the Premiere prize, an award given by Premiere magazine.The 2003 Cognac jury, headed up by French actor Vincent Lindon, also gave awar
  • Lizzie McGuire, Pokemon at Tribeca Family Festival

    The worldpremiere of Lyman Dayton and Sam Pillsbury's drama Where the Red Fern Grows and New York premieres of Disney teencomedy The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Salma Hayek's directorial debut Maldonado Miracle are among the line-up for the TribecaFamily Festival, announced today (Apr 17). The Tribeca Family Festival runs onthe weekends of May 3-4 and May 10-11Also featuringin the event are the New York premieres of Pokemon Heroes, the latest in the hit Japanes
  • Manhattan takes North America to Off The Map

    ManhattanPictures International has acquired all North American rights to CampbellScott's drama Off The Map, which received its world premiere at Sundance and only days agowon the top prize at Taos Talking Picture Film Festival. A theatrical releaseis planned later this year.Negotiations between Manhattan's Paul Cohen and George VanBuskirk, president of production company and sales agent Holedigger Films,which Van Buskirk co-founded in 2000, began at Sundance a
  • Media funds pledge to invest in German industry

    German media funds have said they are willing to spend a set amount of the money they raise each year on films shooting in Germany.The move, announced by Verband Deutscher Medienfonds (VDM), the interest group founded last year by 18 of Germany's private media funds, is expected to bolster Germany's attractiveness as a production location for local and international shoots.A VDM statement stressed, however, that spend should only be calculated from a fund's overall annual volume
  • MEDIA programme to be extended to 2006

    The European Commission is to propose to the Council of Ministers and European Parliament that the existing MEDIA Plus and MEDIA Training programmes be extended for another year until the end of 2006. According to a statement, the aim of this extension would be "to ensure continuity of Community action in these fields until such time as the EU's new financial perspective kicks in, in 2007.""The European Union's programmes are recognised by and meet with interest from culture pro
  • Melvin, Devils win prizes at Avignon/New York Fest

    Bob Odenkirk's MelvinGoes to Dinner was named BestAmerican Feature and Christophe Ruggia's Les Diables (The Devils) Best French Feature at the 9th Avignon/New York Film Festival, whichended yesterday with an awards gala at (Apr 13) at New York University's Cantor Film Centre.The week-long festivalfeatured eight American and nine French features in addition to 26 short filmsfrom both countries.In the two other 21stCentury Filmmaker Awards, Markus Griesshammer
  • Miramax celebrates its biggest hit ever

    Chicago, the winner of six Academy Awardsincluding one for best picture, became the highest grossing film in MiramaxFilms' 24-year history last night (Apr 14) after it passed $157.1m at thedomestic box office.Themusical's record running total overtook Miramax's previous best of$157m set in 2000 by Scary Movie, which came out under the company's Dimension Films banner."We arevery pleased to have such a wonderful film, and have it recognised bothcritically, and by mo
  • More sex please, we're British

    There is a distinctly saucy atmosphere in the country which spawned the Carry On films and The Full Monty, with two cheeky British comedies starting shooting and a third tipped to become a hit when it opens later this year.UK distributor Helkon SK and Angad Paul, one of the financiers of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, are backing School For Seduction, a comedy starring well-known UK TV presenter Kelly Brook that started shooting this month. Sche
  • Mulher Policia wins top European Film Festival prize

    The 4th European Film Festival in Lecce, Southern Italy, awarded its top Ulivo d'Oro competition prize to Portuguese director Joaquim Sapinho's Mulher Policia. The Portuguese-Spanish-French production, which won Euros 5,000, tells the story of a young widow who helps her troubled teenage son run away from the police.The Reunion, a Swedish film by Mans Herngren and Hannes Holm, won the best screenplay prize. Bjorn Kjellman won the best actor award for his role as th
  • Mushroom options NZ gang tale Stonedogs

    Sydney-based Mushroom Pictures has announced that it has optioned Craig Marriner's debut novel Stonedogs, which deals with gang and drug culture in a city resembling the author's home town of Rotorua in New Zealand.The novel was the controversial winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction at NZ's 2002 Montana Book Awards. Random House is due to publish it in Australia in January 2004.Mushroom Pictures has been involved in Chopper, Horseplay and Cut, as well as
  • New distributor, Bright Angel to shine over Benelux

    New Beneluxdistributor Bright Angel Distribution will launch from the end of this month.The company, which aims to handleall rights for eight-to-ten art-house films per year, is the creation of Chris Oosterom, currently programmer and head of acquisitions forFilmmuseum, and Patrizia Raeli, departing head of acquisitions at the UK's Metro Tartan. The pair will act as joint managingdirectors. "The kind of films we like are not big-budget. Our track recordsshow that we like the kin
  • New theatrical distributor launches in Brazil

    Brazilian home video distributor Imagem Filmes is venturing into the local theatrical distribution arena. The Sao Paolo-based company will continue to distribute home video product for Lumiere EBA, which has an output deal with Miramax. In recent years, Imagem has been acquiring all rights to a slew of high profile films, amassing up to 22 titles for theatrical release. Imagem will also distribute its first foray into film production, As Alegres Comadres, a comedy
  • Ohtake named director of ops at DTS Japan

    Consumer electronics veteranNao Ohtake has been named director of operations of DTS Japan, the Japanese armof digital entertainment technology provider Digital Theatre Systems (DTS).Ohtake will be based inTokyo, where he will be responsible for overseeing and managing all DTSactivities in Japan. He will report to Jon Kirchner, president and chiefexecutive officer of DTS, which is headquartered in Agoura Hills, California.'As we continue toexpand DTS operation
  • Proposed new German film law comes under increasing fire

    The draft German Film Law has drawn further criticism from four film industry trade associations and a group of independent producers. The home entertainment trade body, the exhibitors association, the multiplexes' association and the arthouse cinemas' guild described the bill as "inconsistent, half-baked and not acting in solidarity".And while they stressed that this did not constitute a total rejection of the proposed new Film Law, they said " the submitted draft is quite plai
  • Rod Stoneman to step down as CEO of the Irish Film Board

    Rod Stoneman, CEO of the Irish Film Board, is stepping down to take up the position of director at the newly-established Huston School of Film and Digital Media at the National University of Ireland Galway.The Huston School has been established by NUIG in tribute to John Huston and with the support of his family and private donors. The Hustons' family home from the 1950s to the early 1970s was not far from Galway city and Anjelica Huston and her two brothers received much of their scho
  • Scott wins plot of land at Taos Film Festival

    Campbell Scottcollected perhaps the most eccentric prize on the film festival circuit overthe weekend when his second solo feature Off The Map won five acres of New Mexico land at theninth Taos Talking Picture Film Festival's award gala.Chosen by thejury for its 'inventiveness and passion', the drama focuses on theeffect of a man's crippling depression on his young daughter and starsSam Elliott, Joan Allen, Amy Brenneman and Valentina De Angelis.Off Th
  • Simoes tops Columbia TriStar Italy

    Paulo Simoes hasbeen promoted to general manager of Columbia TriStar Films (CTF), Italy, basedin Rome, senior executive vice president of Columbia TriStar Film DistributorsInternational (CTFDI) Mark Zucker announced today (Apr 15).For the past twoyears, Simoes served as theatrical manager for CTF Italy, where he was involvedin the record-breaking opening of the Sony's Spider-Man. He followed up on that with stronglocal releases for Men In Black II and XXX.Si
  • Swedish Komedy to be remade by Columbia

    Swedish comedy Kopps is to beremade by Primal Pictures and Adam Sandler's companyHappy Madison for Columbia Pictures, under a deal signed this week. The film, originally directed byJosef Fares, is a tale about policemen who go on the rampage in a small town inorder to boost crime figures and keep their jobs. Primal Pictures is run by Amanda Klein and Michael Nash. Rights holder Lars Jonsson was represented by Anonymous Content.
  • TLA creates new US home for foreign-language pictures

    SergioBianchi's sardonic political comedy Chronically Unfeasible, Shion Sono's Japanesemystery-comedy Suicide Club and Manuel Gomez Pereira's steamy Spanish thriller BetweenYour Legs are among themajor festival films that will feature in a new video series launched today byTLA Releasing in the domestic market.The year-round programme will see a new title released onDVD and VHS every other month and comprises festival entries from Berlin,Toronto, C
  • Top directors benefit from Swedish funding

    The Swedish Film Institute (SFI) has greenlit four new feature films, most of them from established, successful directors.The major recipient of funding was Swedish production and distribution company Sonet Film, which has already started shooting its first English-language feature film, The Third Wave (Den Tredje Vagen). The film is being directed by Anders Nilsson, who made local box-office hit Executive Protection in 2001. The film, about pan-European organised crime,
  • Top Italian animator prepares new feature

    Top Italian animation writer, Umberto Marino, whose credits include local blockbuster Lucky And Zorba, is set to direct a new feature film, entitled La Fiamma Sul Ghiaccio (A Flame On Ice).Scripted by Marino, the film, which he describes as "a very visual and extreme love story" will be produced through Italian outfit Albatros Film. It is expected to shoot by the end of 2003.It is Marino's fifth feature as director, and his first since 1997's Finalmente Soli (Fi
  • UK box office lagging despite English boost

    The combination of Working Title hit Johnny English and Disney animated sequel The Jungle Book 2 may have helped the UK box office to a 50% week-on-week rise last weekend, but figures were still down for the comparative weekend in 2002.The two new releases took top and second positions with $5.4m (£3.4m) and $2.3m (£1.4m) - including $696,050 of previews - respectively. However, the knock-on effect of these market leaders caused large drops in the holdovers that left the
  • Underwater facility set to launch in Sydney

    A major underwater filming facility is to be built in Sydney, which is being billed as one of the biggest and best in the world by the company behind the project. Industry veterans Greg Timms and Simon Kerslake are working at "breakneck speed" in order to accommodate several projects already in negotiation. Timms said all council approvals were in place and construction of Sunrise Film Studios was about to begin in Lane Cove, a suburb less than 10 kilometres from the central bus
  • US distributors facing p&a cost rises in Argentina

    The US majors in Argentina are facing an escalation of print production costs that is forcing them to dramatically reduce their local print runs.There is even talk of some form of strike by US majors in Argentina, where they are obliged to process their prints in a local laboratory, Cinecolor - which holds a virtual monopoly, at prohibitive costs. However, now a rival lab started up by former Cinecolor executive Fernando Huberman, will soon surface to break Cinecolor's monopoly.
  • US distributors facing print and advertising cost rises in Argentina

    The US majors in Argentina are facing an escalation of print production costs that is forcing them to dramatically reduce their local print runs.There is even talk of some form of strike by US majors in Argentina, where they are obliged to process their prints in a local laboratory, Cinecolor - which holds a virtual monopoly, at prohibitive costs. However, now a rival lab started up by former Cinecolor executive Fernando Huberman, will soon surface to break Cinecolor's monopoly.
  • Vajna and Kassar prepare fantasy trilogy for Sony Pictures

    Andy Vajna andMario Kassar's C-2 Pictures, which produced one of the summer's mostanticipated pictures in Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, is preparing an epic fantasy trilogycalled Evermere whichhas landed at Sony Pictures. Describing the project as "Lord of The Rings meets Harry Potter," Vajna told Screen that he thought thefirst installment in the film would be the company's next film before thecameras.The trilogymarks the first such to go into
  • What A Girl Wants

    Dir: Dennie Gordon. US. 2003. 95mins. Although the trailers made it look like another trashy teen flick, What A Girl Wants surprisingly possesses a degree of class. The fairy-tale story of a Brooklyn teenager who runs away to England to discover her aristocratic dad recalls Disney smash The Princess Diaries with its genuinely disarming characters and the sweet message at its heart.A starring vehicle for talented teen Amanda Bynes, a US TV star from Ni
  • Working Title prepares to shoot Shaun Of The Dead

    Working Title Films is to start shooting romantic zombie comedy Shaun Of The Dead in May, the UK-based production powerhouse confirmed on Tuesday.Edgar Wright, who directed hit TV series Spaced, is directing the story of a group of friends who encounter a literal night from hell at their local pub. Nira Park is producing from an original screenplay by Wright and Simon Pegg, who also stars with Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis.Produced through WT2, Working T