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21 July 2000

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  • Advanced, Europool team to back big-budget pics

    In a bid to increase its production financing firepower, German distributor Advanced Medien has acquired a 40% stake in local sales agent Europool. Europool is currently controlled by Telepool, a sales and production outfit owned by the country's wealthy public TV companies. In a statement, Advanced said that by 2004 Europool will be involved in the financing of 26 features with average budgets of $45m but declined to pinpoint the source of these pictures. Sources close to the c
  • Barreto heads venture to launch Latin pay channel

    A group of Brazilian and Argentinean producers, spearheaded by Brazil's Luiz Carlos Barreto, are teaming up to launch, TV Mercosul, a cable and satellite channel dedicated to Latin American programming. The venture also includes Brazil's Anibal Massaini and Marcos Altberg - who, along with Barreto, are shareholders in Brazilian movie channel Canal Brasil - and Argentinean producer Fernando Solanas. The pay-TV network will initially be available in Brazil and Argentina and later
  • Barroso, Hayek to fly with Butterflies

    Up-and-coming Spanish director Mariano Barroso has reportedly been signed on by MGM and Showtime to shoot his first English-language film, In The Time Of The Butterflies, with actress Salma Hayek in the lead.Showtime and MGM are co-producing the $10m project, which is scheduled to start production in Mexico in September. Hayek will also executive produce.Based on writer Julia Alvarez's second novel after the acclaimed How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Butterflie
  • Berezovsky unites empire; Gusinsky property seized

    Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has unveiled plans to unite his media interests into a single holding with Igor Shabdurasulov, a former Kremlin deputy of staff, at the helm.Berevovsky cited Shabdurasulov's availability as a reason for the move and added that, while it would benefit the business side of his media, the holding would also be "a powerful lever of political influence."Berezovsky recently resigned his seat in the Russian parliament, the State Duma, in protest at the p
  • British Film Office sends visual effects rep to LA

    Meg Guidon has been appointed to the British Film Office in Los Angeles as its first visual effects sector representative.Guidon, who has worked with such post houses as Cinesite and Mill Film in London, will take up her position in August, working under the title of visual effects marketing executive.The post, jointly funded by the industry and the government, is sponsored by companies such as Soho Images, Men In White Coats and Moving Picture Co, along with the Department for
  • British patriotism eggs Chicken Run back to top

    British claymation feature Chicken Run beat out two of Hollywood's highest profile summer blockbusters to the number one slot in the UK chart last weekend when it grossed $3.9m (£2.6m) over the three days. After a running total of $21m and 17 days on release, the Aardman animation rules the roost again pushing Mission: Impossible 2 to second place with the new release of The Patriot coming in at number three.UIP's M:I2 dropped 40% from its opening weekend to
  • Brussels approves Vizzavi portal, with conditions

    The European Commission's competition division has given its blessing to the establishment of Vizzavi, the multi-platform Internet portal launched last month by Vivendi and mobile phone group Vodafone Airtouch. However, approval came with conditions.The success of the portal is key to the proposed merger between Canal Plus, Vivendi and Seagram being able to exploit its content in different media. Indeed, Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier has said that he wants to see the 300m compact di
  • BSkyB takes control of Open

    UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB is taking control of interactive TV service Open in a deal that values the company at about $1.8bn (£1.2bn).BSkyB is raising its stake in Open from 32.5% to 80.1%, acquiring the holdings of banking group HSBC and Japanese electronics company Matsushita. HSBC is selling its 20% share of Open for $338m (£225m) in BSkyB shares; Matsushita is selling its 15% for $254m (£169m) in shares. In addition, UK telco British Telecommunications' 32.5% stake
  • Carlton names new boss as UK TV battle begins

    Thanksgiving records collapsed over the five-day holiday weekend led by the phenomenal holdover success of Universal Pictures' Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The family adventure took an estimated $73.8m from Wednesday to Sunday - about $52.4m over the Friday to Sunday period - bringing its ten day total to a quite astonishing $137.4m. That means that The Grinch is headed to $200m in super-fast time and is likely to end up as the biggest grossing film of 2000.
  • CASE STUDY - Famous

    Actor-turned director Griffin Dunne found himself juggling both roles with mockumentary Famous, his first venture into digital film-making. John Hazelton reports on the making of the film.Summer 1999New York-based independent producer Dolly Hall (High Art, The Incredible True Adventures Of Two Girls In Love) is sent a script by actress Mira Sorvino's agent. The script, a dry mock documentary about aspiring New York actors, is by Laura Kirk and Nat
  • Ex-Helkon chief Martin takes helm of 2K Media

    Patrick Martin, the former managing director and partner of Helkon Media, is to spearhead the ambitions of yet another aggressive German-based international film production and distribution hydra, 2K Media.Martin will become a joint partner and share the chief executive officer title with 2K Media's founder Hans Peter Kaufmann, the former Kirch executive who also serves as chairman of 2K's executive board. Effective immediately, Martin will be in charge of business development,
  • Film Council appoints Bagnall to head training

    UK film body the Film Council has appointed Helen Bagnall to head its $1.5m (£1m) a year Film Training Fund, the Council announced today.Bagnall, previously training officer at UK producers' body PACT, will initially focus on supporting the areas of script skills and producer and business executive training. Her first task will be to lead a working party on training policy for scriptwriters, which will advise the Council on investing in a raft of initiatives from early next year.
  • Galan expected to quit San Sebastian

    Diego Galan, the popular head of the San Sebastian International Film Festival, plans to leave his post in January 2001, to be replaced by the festival's number two, Mikel Olaciregui, according to Spanish press reports.Sources at the festival would neither confirm nor deny the reports, which said that Galan is stepping down for "personal reasons" but would stay on at the festival as a consultant. The changes would not go into effect until several months after this year's 48th edition w
  • German authorities clear News Corp's TM3 deal

    Germany's antitrust commission KEK has approved News Corp's acquisition of the remaining 34% of Munich-based broadcaster TM3 which it does not already own. The Bavarian authorities still have to clear the deal.News Corp is reportedly planning to sell at least part of TM3 to the Kirch Group which is considering several uses for the channel including linking it to its internet group Kirch New Media. Bavarian Media Commission president Wolf-Dieter Ring has already stated that he would app
  • Hong Kong's eSun buys stake in Media Asia

    Ambitious Hong Kong producer and distributor Media Asia has found itself a major new backer in eSun Holdings, formerly Lai Sun Hotels International.The companies said that eSun will pay $12.8m (HK$100m) for 25% of Media Asia - with 20% coming from existing management and a further 5% made up of new shares. eSun will pay a further $2.56m for a 50% stake in Media Asia's Coolala internet operation, which delivers multimedia content and operates a bilingual film and entertainment cyberstor
  • Inside Story triumphs at AWGIES

    Robert Sutherland's script for The Inside Story won the prize for best original feature film at the Australian Writers Guild Awards (AWGIES) on July 15. Sutherland also produced and directed the low-budget privately-financed film.The Inside Story was the sole winner at the awards as no prize was given in the adapted category. It was up against Eddie Fong and Clara Law's script for The Goddess Of 1967, which has not yet been released, and Nick Giannopoulos and Chris
  • Jadviga's Pillow (Jadviga Parnaja)

    Dir: Krisztina Deak. Hungary. 1999. 130 mins.Prod co: Mafilm. Prod: Gyorgy Marosi. Scr: Pal Zavada, Krisztina Deak from Zavada's novel. DoP: Gabor Balogh. Ed: Zsuzsa Csakany. Prod des: Joszef Romvari, Janos Szabolcs. Mus: Gyorgy Selmeczi. Main cast: Ildiko Toth, Viktor Bodo, Roman Luknar, Mari Csomos, Eszter Onodi, Bela Fesztbaum, Djoko Rosic, Marian Labuda.Krisztina Deak's tragic love story Jadviga's Pillow, set at the beginning of the twentieth century, bears som
  • Jiang defies ban with Korean project

    Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen, who was recently banned from making films for seven years by the Chinese authorities, has set his next project with a Korean company, Ahn's World Production. Despite the ban he intends to shoot the film in China with an all-Chinese cast.Based on the best-selling novel The Story of Xu San-Guan The Blood Seller, by Chinese writer Xu Hua, the film traces the life of a man who lives on the fringes of Chinese society, selling his blood to survive. Covering
  • Kinowelt pacts with Keitel's Goatsingers

    Germany's Kinowelt Medien has struck a first-look development deal with Harvey Keitel's New York-based production outfit Goatsingers. The two-year pact is geared at producing arthouse pictures starring Keitel.The deal was unveiled today (July 20) by Charles Finch, who represents Goatsingers through UK-based Artists Independent Network (AIN). Finch and Kinowelt co-chief Rainer Koelmel, who confirmed the deal, cited Three Seasons, in which Keitel co-starred, as a film that the act
  • Kosslick confirmed as head of Berlin Festival

    After months of rumours, Dieter Kosslick was today confirmed as the new artistic head of the Berlin Film Festival. Kosslick will take over after next February's festival and organise his first in 2002. He succeeds Moritz De Hadeln, who after 20 years as festival head, was dropped suddenly in April (Screendaily April 27). Although the manner of De Hadeln's dismissal has caused reactions among film-makers and within the festival staff, Kosslick's popularity is expected to s
  • La Paglia joins Wenham in Connolly's Bank

    Australian actor Anthony La Paglia will join David Wenham in the cast of producer Robert Connolly's writing and directing debut The Bank, which is in production in Melbourne throughout August and September. Axiom Films is handling world sales on the thriller, which is set in the world of high finance. Production company Arenafilm's distribution outfit, Footprint Films, has local rights. Connolly produced Rowan's Wood's critically acclaimed The Boys and Samantha Lan
  • Locarno president Buffi dies suddenly

    Giuseppe Buffi, president of the Locarno International Film Festival and head of the local state government, has died of a heart attack. He was due to open this year's Locarno on August 2.Buffi, 62, died at the wheel of his car near Venice on Thursday according to authorities. He had held the post of Locarno president for only three months, replacing Raimondo Rezzonico who had retired. He had taken over as president of the Swiss canton of Ticino at the end of April, and due to his poli
  • Love's A Bitch continues Mexican wave

    Love's A Bitch (Amores Perros), the second title by fledgling film company Estudio Mexico Films (EMF), has triumphed against the odds at Mexico's box office. Despite its length (two and half hours) and the fact that it was pitted against Mission: Impossible 2, the Cannes 2000 Critic's Week awardee earned $5.7m (pesos55.9m) and lured 2,172,267 admissions after four weeks on release from 225 screens.'We broke even once we went past 1.8 million admissions,' said Richard Ham,
  • Lucky Red chief to head up Italian distrib body

    Italian distributors' association, UNIDIM, has appointed its vice president, Lucky Red chief Andrea Occhipinti, to the post of president, replacing Manfredi Traxler, who died in June.Unusually, the position of vice president has been split between an independent and a studio executive - Morgan Films head Francesco Pamphili and Richard Borg - managing director of United International Pictures (UIP) in Italy - have both been appointed to the role. Occhipinti said the move was part of a d
  • M6 first half revenues up by 21%

    French broadcaster M6 has reported a 21% hike in first-half revenues, to Euros377.3m, compared to Euros211.9m for the same period in 1999. The increase was mostly due to a rise in advertising revenues, which increased 28.3%, from Euros214.6m in the first half of 1999, to Euros275.3m during the same period this year. The channel - which is 41.9% owned by CLT-Ufa and 35.05% by Suez Lyonnaise - has enjoyed steady growth in the past few years and now ranks second only to TF1 with a 21.3% s
  • Macclesfield retires from UIP

    Mike Macclesfield is retiring as vice president of international sales and development at United International Pictures (UIP), the joint distribution partnership of Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.Macclesfield, who has served more than 26 years at UIP, will step down at the end of this year. Julian Stanford, senior vice president sales Europe, will assume responsibility for Macclesfield's territories and for developing markets. He will also take over resp
  • McCormack steps into Fragile's High Heels

    Mary McCormack is starring opposite Minnie Driver in Mel Smith's High Heels & Low Lifes, the debut production through the partnership formed by the UK's Fragile Films and Buena Vista International (UK).The female action comedy this week started a ten-week shoot on location in London and in Ealing Studios, which was recently acquired by Fragile. McCormack and Driver play two best friends, one an aspiring actress, the other a nurse, who try to blackmail a heist gang. The su
  • Me You Them wins top prize at Karlovy Vary

    Brazilian title Me You Them (Eu, Tu, Eles), directed by Andrucha Waddington, came away with top honors at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday night. The film also picked up the best actress award for Regina Case.Special jury prizes were awarded to Peppermint Candy (Bakha Sating), directed by Korea's Lee Chang-Dong, and Big Animal, directed by well-known Polish actor Jerzy Stuhr from a screenplay by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski.Best dire
  • MIFED sets Agenda for film commissions, producers

    This year's MIFED film market in Milan will feature a new initiative, Agenda, under which film commissions from all over Europe will hold pre-scheduled meetings with producers.The film commissions will offer detailed information on all phases of production in each country. Agenda workshops will also be held at MIFED, on October 30, aimed at helping film commissions better understand how to contact and work with producers. According to Agenda organiser Alessandro Signetto, 25 int
  • Morphett takes up financial role at Austar

    Jonathan Morphett has been appointed chief financial officer of Austar United Communications, parent company of Australia's third largest pay-TV service, Austar.Morphett, who takes up the post on August 21, is currently managing director of corporate finance for investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. In this role he played a leading part in Austar's listing on the Australian Stock Exchange and its negotiations over New Zealand joint venture Telstra Saturn. Morphett replace
  • Pentafour grabs internet rights to Indian movies

    Indian computer graphics company, Pentamedia Graphics, has acquired internet broadcast rights to about 2,000 Indian movies.The movies, acquired through a combination of revenue sharing and cash payment, will be webcast on Pentafour's entertainment consumer portal Num TV. The portal, aimed at expat Indians in North America and Europe, relaunched as a commercial service on July 15.Pentafour has invested about $10m in Num TV and expects the venture to break even in six months time.
  • Phil Jackson named int'l video chief for Paramount

    Phil Jackson has been named the new London-based president of Paramount Home Entertainment International, where he will replace longstanding international video veteran Paul Miller at the end of July.Jackson joins Paramount from Walt Disney where he held the position of senior vice president/managing director, Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Prior to his twelve-year stint at Disney, Jackson was with the Rank Organisation.Jackson's previous experi
  • Pokemon The Movie 2000

    Lars von Trier's Palme d'Orwinner Dancer In The Dark will inaugurate this year's 45th annual ValladolidInternational Film Week (Oct 20-28).Dancer will screen out ofcompetition in the popular festival's Official Section. Von Trier's BreakingThe Waves opened Valladolid in 1996.The festival has unveiledthe full line-up for its competitive Official Section. Competing film
  • Rat

    Dir: Steve Barron. 2000. Ire-UK. 90mins.Prod cos: Ruby Films/Henson with Samson Films. Int'l sales: Universal Pictures International, tel: (44) 207 307 1300. Prods: Alison Owen, Steve Barron. Exec prod David Collins. Scr: Wesley Burrowes. DoP: Brendan Galvin. Prod des: Mark Geraghty. Ed: David Yardley. Mus: Bob Geldof. Main cast: Imelda Staunton, Pete Postlethwaite, David Wilmot, Kerry Condon, Frank Kelly, Andrew Lovern.Rat, which had its world premiere at the Galw
  • RTL shuffles execs to sister channel Vox

    RTL executives Ladya van Eeden and Marko Langer will replace Joerg Schuette as programming chief at RTL sister channel Vox. Van Eeden will be responsible for the fiction division and Schuette will supervise news. Van Eeden, who is currently programming co-ordinator at RTL, will make the transition on August 1 and Langer, producer of the news show Stern TV, will join a month later. The appointments come on the heels of RTL's acquisition of a 49% stake in Vox from RTL paren
  • Russia's ORT tipped for $85m government loan

    The struggle for control of Russia's largest broadcaster ORT entered another round this week as the state-controlled Vneshekonombank said it was considering handing out an $85m loan to the financially strapped channel. The statement came at the same time as the bank admitted that it would probably not be able to collect the $100m loan that former Russian president Boris Yeltsin ordered it to give to ORT after the August 1998 financial crisis. Repayment of the loan, which was issued aga
  • San Sebastian confirms Galan exit

    The San Sebastian International Film Festival today confirmed the departure of festival director Diego Galan (Screendaily, July 18). He will be replaced in 2001 by Mikel Olaciregui, currently sub-director of the event.Galan, who steps down for personal reasons, has helmed the festival since 1995 and between 1985 and 1989. Between 1993 and 1995 he was a general advisor to San Sebastian. He will stay on as part of the selection committee after 2001.The changes won't go into
  • Sega partners with Omega, Suncent

    Sega Enterprises has struck a partnership with Japanese production outfits Omega Pictures and Suncent CinemaWorks under which it will promote and distribute their movies at its newly-opened Net@ chain of game arcades in Tokyo."This is only the start of our plans with Omega and other film companies for integrating films into our network," said a Sega spokesman. " We will not just screen films in our arcades, but also become involved in their planning, production and promotion." T
  • Spinal Tap adds UK date to global tour

    Rob Reiner's legendary rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap is staging a UK come-back tour.The spoof story of spandex-clad heavy rock band Spinal Tap, infamous for such "classics" as Big Bottom, Bitch School and Stonehenge, will get a theatrical re-release in October through independent UK distributor Optimum Releasing.Optimum has struck a joint-venture pact with US studio MGM and France's Studiocanal for the release, which will link with MGM and Studiocanal's previously-
  • Stream's Minoli fired for Telepiu meeting

    Giovanni Minoli has been dismissed from his position as general director of Italian pay-TV platform Stream in an unexpected move that casts further doubts over the future of the beleaguered News Corp and Telecom Italia-owned company.Stream CEO Lucia Morselli said in a letter that she had taken her decision after learning of a secret meeting between Minoli and Michel Thoulouze, the president of Stream's rival Telepiu. Morselli said she had been notified of the meeting "neither before no
  • Telefonica denies Villalonga resignation

    Telefonica has denied reports in the Spanish press on Friday that chairman Juan Villalonga has agreed to resign over an insider trading scandal. However further reports in the local and international press over the weekend have added heat to the rumour. Grupo Prisa-owned financial newspaper Cinco Dias reported Friday that Villalonga had agreed to step down from the top job in order to remain head of Telefonica internet subsidiary Terra Lycos. The report said an announcement coul
  • Toei invents digital colour technique for cartoons

    Toei Animation, Hitachi and Toei Chemical Industry have jointly developed a technique for digitally colouring black-and-white animated films - a first for the Japanese film industry. Toei Animation researchers have successfully used the technique to colour part of an episode of Wolf Boy Ken, a 1963 Toei cartoon series.After cleaning the original film, researchers transferred it frame by frame to a computer. They then separated the background and animated portions of the i
  • TV movies by Ross, Frears hoard major Emmy nods

    British directors Benjamin Ross and Stephen Frears, cross-dressing comedian Eddie Izzard and the BBC's acclaimed documentary series Walking With Dinosaurs are among the European talents and productions to pick up nominations for the 52nd primetime Emmy awards.Ross received a best director nod in the miniseries or TV movie category for RKO 281, about the making of Orson Welles' classic Citizen Kane. Produced for HBO and BBC Films by Ridley and Tony Scott's Scott Fre
  • Two Thousand And None

    Dir: Arto Paragamian. Canada. 2000. 93 mins.Prod co: Galafilm. Int'l Sales: Pandora (00 33 1 40 70 90 90). Prod: Arnie Gelbart. Scr: Paragamian. DoP: Norayr Kasper. Prod des: Anne Pritchard. Ed: Alain Baril. Music: Milan Kymlicka. Main cast: John Turturro, Oleg Kissielov, Katherine Borowitz, Julian Richings.Perhaps the biggest commercial obstacle faced by Two Thousand And None is the film-makers' insistence on describing it as a comedy. In fact it's a work of const
  • UK's article 27 partners with idealive

    Soho-based internet distribution outfit article27 has formed a development partnership with idealive, a US-based on-line company which provides information to potential investors.Article27, which has previously struck on-line distribution pacts with UK cultural body the British Film Institute and Italian broadcaster RAI, is to provide idealive with market intelligence and information about potential projects. In return, the San Francisco-based company is to provide article27 with film
  • Vivendi, Seagram file merger for EC approval

    Vivendi, Canal Plus and Seagram have filed their planned merger for European Commission (EC) approval, an EC spokesperson confirmed today.The EC has until August 21 to clear the deal or launch an in-depth four-month investigation. The EC previously insisted that it has exclusive powers to review the merger, in response to a statement by France's broadcast regulator the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) that it also intends to investigate the deal (Screendaily, July
  • What Lies Beneath

    Dir: Robert Zemeckis. US. 1999. 126 mins.Prod co: 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks Pictures, Imagemovers. Dist: DreamWorks (US, Canada)/Fox (International). Prods: Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke. Exec prods: Joan Bradshaw, Mark Johnson. Scr: Clark Gregg. DoP: Don Burgess. Ed: Arthur Schmidt. Music: Alan Silvestri. Prod des: Rick Carter, Jim Teegarden. Visual effects supervisor: Rob Legato. Main cast: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Scarwid, Amber Valletta.
  • X-Men disappoints in Oz

    Despite claiming Australia's eighth biggest ever opening day gross on July 13, Fox's X-Men has taken only $2.8m (A$4.76m) from 245 screens after its first week on release. This figure places it at 29 in the chart of the territory's top weekly openings.The results are surprising considering the film's impressive US outing where it took $54.5m in three days to become the sixth biggest ever weekend opener. But tying the Australian outing to its US release date may have been one of
  • X-Men X-plodes with $57.5m domestic opening gross

    X-Men, Bryan Singer's $75m version of the Marvel Comics' phenomenon, raked in more money at the weekend box office than any other non-sequel in film history, more or less ensuring that distributor 20th Century Fox will finish the summer with a cost-efficient blockbuster capable of spawning an entire franchise of sequels.Starting out on Friday with a $21m gross and finishing the weekend with a collective take of $57.5m, X-Men's opening performance at North American theatre