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23 March 2000

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  • AFMA launches production loan guarantee scheme

    The American Film Marketing Association (AFMA) has clinched a major new independent financing initiative, reaching agreement with Export-Import Bank Of The United States (Ex-Im) to furnish US AFMA members (producers and lenders) with film production loan guarantees.The agreement is revolutionary in that it guarantees the production loan and not the individual distributor contracts that make up the loan collateral, thus protecting lenders and producers against the vagaries of foreign e
  • Bertelsmann exits AOL joint ventures

    European media giant Bertelsmann and America Online (AOL) have decided to patch up their differences over AOL's expansion strategy. Under a deal heralded as a $250m "strategic global alliance" Bertelsmann has secured an outlet for its on-line content and has agreed to sell its interests in AOL Europe and AOL Australia.Bertelsmann, which has been allied with AOL for several years, appeared to feel snubbed by AOL's take-over of Time Warner and its subsequent tie-up with rival music group
  • BFI Production adds Coriat, McQueen to slate

    BFI Production - the UK funding operation that supported early work from such film-makers as Ratcatcher's Lynne Ramsay, 24/7's Shane Meadows and The Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy - has unveiled a new feature slate as it moves under the control of newly-created film super body The Film Council.Wonderland writer Laurence Coriat, Turner-prize winning artist Steve McQueen and leading documentary maker Philippa Lowthorpe are amongst the film-makers on the seven
  • BKN International raises $60m from IPO

    Children''s animation producer and distributor BKN International raised $59.5m (euros61.2m) from its IPO on Frankfurt''s Neuer Markt last week. The German subsidiary of US concern BKN Inc will use a portion of proceeds from the sale to increase its European production capacity by opening a European studio with facilities in Cologne and Paris. In addition, BKN intends to use the fresh injection of cash to finance the opening of a branch office in London to perform licensing and merchand
  • Buena Vista, Warner Bros commit to Yes flotation

    UK video-on-demand (VoD) pioneer, Yes Television, is to float on the London Stock Exchange. By the end of the year it may be followed by rival Video Networks. Yes has already secured separate commitments from Buena Vista and Warner Bros International Television to buy into the company at the time of flotation. These are expected to give the two studios significant minority stakes in Yes and provide Yes with a guaranteed flow of movies and TV programming.Although the timetable fo
  • BVI ups Broberg, Vassallo in Sweden, Spain

    Buena Vista International (BVI) has made two key executive promotions in Spain and Sweden. Eric Broberg has been promoted to senior vice president and general manager of BVI Sweden. In this role, Broberg, who has run BVI's Swedish office since 1992, will supervise all of the distributor's activities throughout Scandinavia.Javier Vassallo is to become senior vice president and general manager of BVI Spain. Vassallo has been with BVI Spain since its inception in 1992. Both
  • Canal Plus hits back at TF1 in pay-TV war

    Canal Plus COO Denis Olivennes has lashed back at TF1 chairman Patrick Le Lay over his accusation that Canal Plus is monopolising pay-TV rights in the French market (Screendaily March 20).Le Lay's concerns were connected to digital platform TPS, which is part-owned by TF1 and currently lobbying for the creation of a second pay-TV window for titles pre-bought or acquired by Canal Plus.In a lengthy Q&A published by French daily Liberation, Olivennes stated: "TPS does
  • Chan sets off Applause to boost Asian production

    Hong Kong filmmaker Peter Chan has formed a production company - Applause Pictures - with Teddy Chen, director of 1997 actioner Downtown Torpedoes, and the former head of Hong Kong video company Panorama Allan Fung. According to Chan, the goal of the company is "to bring Asian filmmakers together and to close the gap between Asian markets." The company intends to find projects that have pan-Asian appeal and set them up as co-productions between Hong Kong and other Asian countrie
  • Cinar sues Bahamas companies for missing funds

    Troubled Canadian producer-distributor Cinar Corp has filed lawsuits against several Bahamas-based investment companies in an attempt to recoup $76m in missing funds.Cinar's co-founders, Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg resigned from their roles as co-CEOs earlier this month over an alleged $122m in unauthorised corporate bond purchases made by executive vice-president Hasanain Panju, who was subsequently fired (Screendaily March 8). Cinar has recovered some of the $122m bu
  • Clockwork Orange fails to wind up UK box office

    Despite this weekend being one of the best in terms of well-reviewed cinema product and the high-profile re-release of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, the UK box office recorded its lowest aggregate gross so far this year. The total tally of all films on release this weekend came in at under $9.5m (£6m), a harsh contrast to the record-breaking $23.3m (£14.8m) taken Feb 11-13 this year.The opening of A Clockwork Orange did not emulate Warner Bros' 1998 box office suc
  • Constantin enters international TV production

    Bernd Eichinger's Constantin Film is expanding into production of international TV event programming with a $20m two-part adaptation of Marion Zimmer Bradley's international sword and sorcery bestseller The Mists Of Avalon.The two-parter is to begin shooting in the Czech Republic, Scotland and Hungary from next month under the direction of Uli Edel, who previously directed Christiane F and Last Exit To Brooklyn for Eichinger. The project will be made as an international c
  • De Ida Y Vuelta wins best picture at Guadalajara

    Maria del Carmen de Lara's En El Pais De No Pasa Nada made a sweep of major awards at the 15th Mexican film showcase in Guadalajara (March 10-16), although it was Salvadar Aguirre's De Ida Y Vuelta that won the official jury prize for best picture.En El Pais was awarded best actor and actress for Fernando Lujan and Julieta Egurrola respectively while the International Catholic Organization of Cinema bestowed its best picture award, Premio OCIC, on the drama.
  • Dindo, Fox to be feted at Doc Aviv

    Tel Aviv''s second International Documentary Film Festival - Doc Aviv - will feature tributes to Swiss documentary maker Richard Dindo and UK film-maker Jennifer Fox.Fox will present four episodes from her nine-hour series An American Love Story at the event, which takes place April 21-26. Doc Aviv will also feature national and international competitions, a panorama section screening documentaries from around the world and master classes.Festival topper Ilana Tsur has al
  • Drefa to exit Progress Film Distributors

    Drefa Media Holding, a subsidiary of Leipzig-based public broadcaster MDR, is planning to sell its 37.5% stake in the recently privatised East German Progress Film Distributors.Progress holds global exclusive rights to more than 6,000 feature films, documentaries and animation films produced by the former DEFA studios between 1946 and 1990. Drefa and Munich-based investment company Tellux Holding acquired the company from East German privatisation body BVS in 1997. Drefa and Tel
  • Eagle soars with Intermedia trio

    Newly-recapitalised Italian distributor Eagle Pictures is finalising the acquisition of three titles from Guy East and Nigel Sinclair's Intermedia Films in a deal that is expected to lead to a long-term distribution arrangement.Eagle co-founder and chief executive officer Stefano Dammicco confirmed that the companies are negotiating a multi-picture deal in addition to the distributor acquiring all Italian rights to Intermedia's The Wedding Planner, Where The Heart Is and
  • EC expected to greenlight BSkyB, Kirch deal

    UK satellite TV operator BSkyB is expected to get the green light to buy into Germany's KirchPayTV today (March 21).News Corp-controlled BSkyB agreed in January to pay DM2.9bn for a 24% stake in the division of giant Kirch Medien that comprises the merged DF1 and Premiere digital pay-TV operations. Since then the deal has been under investigation by the European Commission (EC), which is today expected to give its permission subject to conditions.Although the EC is understood to
  • EC probes Microsoft, Telewest deal

    The European Commission has today opened a full investigation of the proposed acquisition of a 29.7% stake in UK cable network Telewest by Microsoft.The deal was announced in May last year when AT&T, which owns Liberty Media, took over Media One, which owns the stake. The EC said it expects to rule on the case by August.At the heart of the EC's concerns are competition conditions in UK cable - the deal would give Microsoft and Liberty joint control of Telewest - and software for
  • Edinburgh festival to host Ophuels retrospective

    Director Max Ophuels is the recipient of this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival retrospective, an extensive showcase of a film-maker's oeuvre that was dedicated to France's Robert Bresson last year.The German film-maker began his career as a stage actor and director in the roaring 20s before fleeing the country when the Nazi party took power in 1933. Working in France, the Netherlands, Italy and the US, he filmed such classics as 1948's Letter From An Unknown Woman; 1
  • Fortissimo picks up Sabu's Monday

    Fortissimo Film Sales has picked up world sales rights to Monday, the Japanese film which scooped the FIPRESCI critics award at last month's Berlin festival.The film, directed by Hiroki Tanaka (aka Sabu), is the story told in flashback of a man who wakes up in a luxury hotel without knowing how he got there. The film was produced by Lee Bong-ou of Cine Qua Non in Tokyo, and stars Shinichi Tsutsumi and Yasuke Matsuyuki.Fortissimo handled sales on Sabu's previous film Po
  • France's AB seeks secondary listing

    French television producer-distributor Groupe AB, which also operates cable and satellite channels in France and Germany, has announced plans to seek a secondary listing on the Paris Stock Exchange. The company, which acquired leading French cable and satellite channel RTL9 from CLT-Ufa in May 1998, has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1996. AB operates another seven thematic channels in the French market and music channel Onyx in Germany. It sold 51% of AB Sports to Pa
  • Frankie's Comeback wins Pathe Production Prize

    The first Pathe Production Prize has gone to Frankie's Comeback, a comedy that will now be produced through UK National Lottery franchise Pathe Pictures.The project, written by former theatre actor Bernard Wright, was selected from the three winners of the inaugural Orange Prize for Screenwriting. It follows a washed-up showman on the comeback trail."Bernard is a truly original and imaginative writing talent, and we are delighted that the prize has given us the opportunit
  • Gilliam's Quixote saddles up with European backers

    After tilting in vain at so many financing windmills for the past year, Terry Gilliam has finally lined up a combination of European funding partners for his long-cherished The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.French majors Pathe and Le Studio Canal Plus are teaming up with French production outfit Hachette Premiere and German film fund KC Medien to finance, produce and distribute Gilliam's $30m interpretation of Miguel De Cervantes' satirical classic about a 17th Century wandering kn
  • Helkon, Rebus create pan-Euro buying alliance

    UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution and Germany's Helkon Media have formed a joint acquisition alliance.The companies are to pick up rights for their respective markets, but may also take pan-European rights, accounting for about 50% of a film's budget between them and striking an output deal with a US studio for the remainder.Redbus chief Simon Franks said that the partners were already in talks with three studios about such an arrangement. Franks added that projects would
  • Helkon, Redbus create pan-Euro buying alliance

    UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution and Germany''s Helkon Media have formed a joint acquisition alliance.The companies are to pick up rights for their respective markets, but may also take pan-European rights, accounting for about 50% of a film''s budget between them and striking an output deal with a US studio for the remainder.Redbus chief Simon Franks said that the partners were already in talks with three studios about such an arrangement. Franks added that projects woul
  • Hoyts South America takes on Kushner-Locke titles

    Exhibitor Hoyts General Cinema (HGC) South America has agreed to handle Latin American distribution of several titles from Phoenix World Investments (PWI), the Chile-based outpost of US independent producer-distributor Kushner-Locke. The deal calls for the distribution of PWI films in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, starting with Very Bad Things which was released in the US in November 1998. HGC - a two-year old joint venture between Australian exhibitor H
  • Iosseliani appointed head of Camera d'Or jury

    Veteran Georgian director Otar Iosseliani has been appointed as head of the Camera d'Or jury as the Cannes festival begins to take shape. The prize, given during the closing ceremony of the official selection, is awarded to the best first feature in any section of the festival. Iosseliani, whose films reflect his gently ironic humour, commented: "As our craft is heavy and tiresome, we need to take it lightly." He is best known for intimate, regional pictures, but achieved some internat
  • Ireland records best ever month at the box office

    Ireland recorded its best month ever at the box office in January 2000 with admissions reaching a staggering 1.9 million, up 23% on January 1999. Admissions in Dublin in January were up 30.5% on the previous year.The top ten titles during the month were Angela's Ashes, Sleepy Hollow, The World Is Not Enough, The Bone Collector, Agnes Browne, Inspector Gadget, Blue Streak, Stigmata, Ordinary Decent Criminal and Muppets In
  • Israeli actors form breakaway union

    A group of Israeli actors, which includes local stars such as Gila Almagor, Amos Lavi, Sami Houri and Shmil Ben Ari, has formed a breakaway actors'' union.Called Screen Actors Union (SAU), the organisation competes with existing union EMI (the initials stand for "Artists Union" in Hebrew), which SAU''s founding members claim no longer serves their needs. The new organisation says it is poised to sign contracts with all major film and TV companies in Israel.SAU''s first meeting t
  • It Takes All Kinds (Le Gout Des Autres)

    Dir: Agnes Jaoui. France. 112 mins.Prod cos: Telema, Les Films A4, France 2 Cinema. Int'l sales: Pathe International (+1 310 247 4747). Prod: Charles Gassot. Scr: Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri. DoP: Laurent Dailland. Prod des: Francois Emmanueli. Ed: Herve de Luze. Main cast: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Agnes Jaoui, Gerard Lanvin, Alain Chabat, Anne Alvaro, Brigitte Catillon, Christiane Millet.Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri are the hottest item in French films, and then some. In
  • Italian film suffers domestic box office decline

    Admissions to Italian films dropped by almost 50% to 9 million in the eight months from August 1999 to March 2000, according to local trade body Cinetel, compared to 16 million the previous year.Total admissions fell by 1.5 million over the eight-month period, according to Cinetel which monitors 75% of the territory. Five Italian productions featured among the country's top 15 grossing films during the 1998-1999 box office season. However only two local titles - Leonardo Pieracc
  • Jacob's Presidential Role

    The following Q&A appeared in Screen International, the weekly, on March 10, on the occasion of Gilles Jacob's elevation to president of the Cannes Film Festival.While his name does not often appear on the lists of Hollywood power brokers, the super-rich or the stars to watch, Gilles Jacob is arguably the most influential person in independent cinema. First as a journalist, and for the last 23 years at Cannes, he has had a key role in determining which films get the red carpet t
  • Jubaku (Spellbound)

    Dir: Masato Harada. Jap. 1999. 115 mins.Prod cos: Kadokawa Shoten, Sankei Shimbun, Toei. Int'l sales: Toei (+81 3 3535 7621). Exec prods: Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, Tan Takaiwa, Shigeaki Hazama, Jun Sakagami. Prod: Masato Hara. Scr: Ryo Takasugi, Satoru Suzuki, Mugita Kinoshita. DoP: Yoshitaka Sakamoto. Prod des: Kyoko Heya. Ed: Akimasa Kawashima. Music: Masahiro Kawasaki. Main cast: Yakusho Koji, Tatsuya Nakadai, Miho Wada, Kenichi Endo.Following the smash success last year of
  • Kinowelt mulls investment in Kloiber's TM3

    Aggressive German media group Kinowelt is considering taking over Rupert Murdoch's 66% stake in Munich-based channel TM3 as a means of gaining access to a broadcast outlet according to German press reports.Berlin daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel quoted Kinowelt CFO Eduard Unzeitig as saying that "an entry in TM3 would be more convenient than setting up one's own channel". Unzeitug added that "in accordance with our philosophy, we always aim for a majority participation".H
  • Lions Gate launches expansion drive under new CEO

    Frank Giustra has stepped aside as chief executive officer of Lions Gate Entertainment, the Canadian mini-studio he founded nearly three years ago, and passed on the managerial reins to former Sony Pictures TV chief Jon Feltheimer.The power transfer, which took affect Tuesday night, is intended to kick Lions Gate's already ambitious expansion plans into an even higher gear. In the past months, the company has considered buying or merging with cartoon character licensing company Harvey
  • Magnolia flowers overseas

    Three times Academy Award nominee Magnolia is finding niche audiences as it opens up across international territories, despite its three-hour plus running time. Its most successful release to date is surprisingly in Japan where the New Line Cinema picture has attracted $5m at the box office in two weeks. In the UK, distributor Entertainment cracked the congested release market with a one-screen platform opening at the UCI Empire in Leicester Square, London. In its first three d
  • Marcus wins Miramax, Irish Film Institute award

    Shimmy Marcus is the winner of the 1999 Miramax award which was first established by Harvey Weinstein and the Film Institute of Ireland in 1994. The award, valued at IR£10,000 ($12,600), is for Marcus'' thriller script, Headrush. The award was established to develop the writing of new feature-length screenplays in Ireland.As a son of Louis Marcus, the veteran Irish documentarist and former chairman of the Irish Film Board, Shimmy Marcus is a second generation film-maker w
  • Metrodome nabs Eye; Pathe buys Memento

    In an increasingly aggressive UK distribution sector, Metrodome Distribution has finalised its acquisition of Eye Of The Beholder and Pathe Distribution has picked up Memento, Christopher Nolan's follow-up to the acclaimed Following.Metrodome, which recently secured a $15m acquisition, fund through a joint venture with UK financier Future Film Group, picked up Beholder from US-based Behaviour Worldwide. The $18m thriller stars Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd.
  • Metrodome secures $15m buying fund

    In a deal the signals the emergence of a potent UK buying force, Metrodome Distribution and newly-launched UK financier Future Film Group have agreed to form a joint venture providing the distributor with a $15m acquisition fund.Metrodome has already picked up Behaviour Worldwide's $24m The Body, starring Antonio Banderas, through the arrangement. The distributor aims to acquire up to eight projects a year through the venture.Future will provide equity funding for the acq
  • Mexican film representative quits in protest

    Maria Rojo has resigned from her post as chair of the Mexican delegation to the US-Mexico Bilateral Film Commission in protest against the Mexican Supreme Court's decision to overturn a ban on the dubbing of foreign films into Spanish (Screendaily March 20).The veteran Mexican actress has accused the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which represents the Hollywood studios' interests, of having pressured the court to rule in their favour. This latest development aggravate
  • Mexican film set to prosper despite dubbing law

    A ruling by Mexico's Supreme Court to permit the dubbing of foreign films into Spanish has thrown local filmmakers into a panic, but some observers believe the current unprecedented crop of local box office hits can withstand the changes. Over the past 12 months, at least four Mexican films have scored highly with audiences, led by urban romp Sex, Shame And Tears (Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrimas), the third highest-grossing film ever in Mexico after Titanic and Tarzan. "The
  • Mission To Mars

    Dir: Brian De Palma. US. 2000. 112 mins.Prod cos: Jacobson Co Production in association with Touchstone Pictures. Co-prods: David Goyer, Justis Greene, Jim Wedda. US dist: Buena Vista . Int'l Sales: Buena Vista Int'l. Exec prod: Sam Mercer. Prod: Tom Jacobson. Scr: Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Graham Yost. DoP: Stephen H Burum. Prod des: Ed Verreaux. Ed: Paul Hirsch. Music: Ennio Morricone. Main cast: Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen."I tried to avoid all
  • Mixed fortunes for Kirch as BSkyB deal approved

    It was a mixed day yesterday for German media giant Kirch which saw its pact with BSkyB waved through by Europe's competition authorities, albeit with significant conditions attached. It lost the latest round in its battle with Universal over film channels, but cemented its alliance with Italy's Mediaset by giving their deal a permanent new name.UK satellite TV operator BSkyB was given the green light to buy into KirchPayTV. But the European Commission (EC) imposed conditions that requ
  • My Life So Far

    Dir: Hugh Hudson. UK. 1999. 93mins.Prod Co: Enigma, Hugh Hudson Films. Int'l sales: Miramax International. Prods: David Puttnam, Steve Norris. Exec prods: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Paul Webster. Scr: Simon Donald from the autobiography Son Of Adam by Sir Denis Forman. DoP: Bernard Lutic. Prod des: Andy Harris. Ed: Scott Thomas. Mus: Howard Blake. Main cast: Colin Firth, Rosemary Harris, Irene Jacob, Tcheky Karyo, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Malcolm McDowell.The l
  • Nelvana launches new media arm as earnings surge

    The situation at Cinar may be dire but Canada''s other major children''s entertainment player is in robust health. Toronto-based Nelvana Limited posted strong fourth quarter results as it announced the creation of a new media division and several attendant projects, including the world''s first TV series in Flash Animation.Total revenue for the year ended December 31, 1999 increased 25% to $91.7m, compared to $73.6m in 1998. Net earnings increased 17% to $10.1m ($1.39 per share), compa
  • Nicks signs on to direct Destination's Slackers

    Commercials and music video director Dewey Nicks has signed to direct Slackers which is being produced and distributed domestically by Destination Films. Set to start principal photography on May 24, the film is written by first-time writer David Steinberg (currently writing the sequel to American Pie) and follows three college students who are expert at scamming the system. Destination's vice president, production, Mark Morgan will oversee the production. Neal Mor
  • Nowhere To Hide steals spotlight at Deauville fest

    South Korean film Nowhere to Hide scooped four out of six awards at the second Pan-Asia Festival of Deauville (March 17-19). The Sundance title won the Grand Jury prize, best director for Lee Myung-Se, best actor for Park Joong-Hoon and best cinemaphotography.The quirky cop story - which had its European premiere in Deauville - was snapped-up by CLT-Ufa's French distribution offshoot SND between Sundance and the AFM, as a joint acquisition with home video distributor Film Office
  • Piracy stunting growth of Italian video market

    Italy''s sell-through video market was worth (lira708bn) in 1999 - more than the beer and ice-cream markets - according to a report from trade organisation Univideo. The rental market in 1999 was worth (lira300bn). However the report also found that market growth is being restricted by piracy and the reluctance of Italian consumers to purchase videocassettes. Only 50% of VCR owners prefer to buy videos rather than tape from TV or borrow from a friend. But 20% of consumers are frequent
  • Prisa to acquire Spanish publisher ahead of float

    Spanish multimedia conglomerate Prisa Group is acquiring Santillana de Ediciones, one of the Spanish-speaking world's largest publishing houses, for an undisclosed amount. The move is seen as an effort by Prisa to add muscle to its planned 25% stock flotation in June.The Prisa announcement coincided with media rival Telefonica's much-discussed buy-out of Dutch production house Endemol Entertainment.Santillana will add massive content to Prisa's already hefty portfolio, which enc
  • Quiero secures output deal with Universal

    Quiero Television, the Spanish group which is poised to launch Europe's second digital terrestrial broadcasting operation, has struck its first output deal with a major studio. The outfit, previously known as Onda Digital, is poised to unveil a wide-ranging supply deal with Universal Studios. The deal, which is arranged through Universal Studios International BV, will enable Quiero to launch a strand of movie programming to be branded Quiero Cine.The deal is understood to includ
  • Railroad Man sweeps Japan Academy Awards

    Railroad Man, a comeback film for Japanese screen legend Ken Takakura which cleaned up at the Japanese box office last year, swept all major prizes at the 1999 Japan Academy Awards. In addition to selecting the film as best picture and veteran Yasuo Furuhata as best director, Academy voters named Takakura best actor for his portrayal of an ageing station master who has an unexpected reunion with his long-dead daughter.The film also won best actress for Shinobu Otake, who
  • Roberts smashes box office again

    Julia Roberts confirmed her place in the very highest pantheon of movie stars over the weekend with a spectacular $28.2m opening for her latest tour de force Erin Brockovich. The story of a real-life single mother who won a record settlement for victims of water contamination, the movie had won rave reviews and extraordinarily strong word-of-mouth in the lead-up to its release on Friday. Universal has domestic rights and Columbia TriStar international rights on the movie which is direc
  • Rostain appointed as Gaumont sales chief

    OFFICIAL SELECTIONOpening night film (out of competition):VATEL Dir: Roland JoffeClosing night film (out of competition):STARDOM (aka 15 MOMENTS)Dir: Denys ArcandCOMPETITION:SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR (SANGER FRAN ANDRA VANINGEN)Dir: Roy AnderssonEUREKADir: Aoyama Shinji O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU'Dir: Joel CoenKIPPURDir: Amos GitaiTHE YARDS Dir: James GRAYESTOR
  • Russian actor prevented from shooting in space

    Plans to send Russian actor Vladimir Steklov to the Mir space station to shoot a feature film have fallen through because the film-makers have been unable to raise finance for the project.Russian Aerospace Agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko said the actor will not travel to Mir due to the "nonfulfilment of certain contractual terms". Steklov was due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at the end of the month and stay in space from 45 to 180 days. Two real cosmonau
  • San Sebastian to feature Bertolucci tribute

    The 48th San Sebastian International Film Festival (September 21-30) will host a tribute to Bernardo Bertolucci which will feature screenings of all of his films as well as several documentaries about him and his body of work. Coinciding with the film's 25th anniversary, Bertolucci's Novecento will be given a special screening in the festival's Velodrome, which seats 3,000 in front of a 400-square metre screen. The tribute to Bertolucci will be accompanied by a special edition b
  • Seldin takes up production role at Top Cow

    Spike Seldin has been named president of production for the film and television division of comic book publisher Top Cow Productions. Seldin was formerly vice president of original programming for Turner Network Television (TNT) from 1996-99. Top Cow is the third largest publisher of American comic books worldwide and its film and TV division is already actively developing projects with TNT, Fox Kids, Fox Animation and both John Woo and Chris Lee.
  • Shaw Communications takes fibre-optic stake

    Canadian cable operator Shaw Communications has signed a $270m (C$400m) deal with 360networks, the high-speed fibre-optic network headed up by former Microsoft CFO Greg Maffei. The agreement, which sees Shaw take an $100m equity stake in 360networks, gives the company a significant boost as a high-speed provider to its 1.8 million customers. Vancouver-based 360networks is constructing a 90,000 km global network including terrestrial fibre-optic networks in North America and Europe alon
  • Sogecable denies Canal Satelite sale

    Spanish audiovisual group Sogecable has vehemently denied speculation that it is nearing a sale to Telefonica of a 92.5% stake in digital satellite platform Canal Satelite Digital (CSD). Such a sale would undoubtedly result in a long-awaited merger between CSD and Telefonica-owned rival platform Via Digital.Sources at Sogecable this morning described the speculation as "absolutely not true." CEO Javier Diez de Polanco denied similar rumours on February 24 during the presentation
  • Sogecable seals PPV deal with DreamWorks

    Spanish audiovisual group Sogecable has flexed its acquisition muscle by signing a 16-picture agreement with DreamWorks SKG giving it pay-per-view (PPV) rights for its digital satellite platform Canal Satelite Digital (CSD). Among the titles included in the deal are multiple Academy Award nominee American Beauty, The Prince Of Egypt, The Haunting and Antz.DreamWorks already has an exclusive 40-picture agreement with Sogecable's pay-TV outfit Canal Plu
  • Sony, Dubbing Brothers team up for German launch

    Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and French dubbing specialist Dubbing Brothers have unveiled plans to build a $4.5m (DM9m) state-of-the-art digital facility at the Babelsberg studios outside Berlin.SPE will take a 25% stake in the venture - which is called Dubbing Brothers Germany (DBG) - and contribute technical expertise and audio engineering. DBG will be the primary manager on all foreign-language dubbing projects. Regional government-run investment bank ILB will subsidise the ve
  • Start-up financier to pump $24m into new media

    A group of UK film-makers and finance specialists have launched International Film One (IFO), a financing vehicle which aims to raise $23.6m (£15m) through UK tax breaks to invest in product targeted at new media platforms.Accountancy firm Hacker Young is assisting in raising the cash through the UK's Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), a financing vehicle that provides investors with tax relief.IFO's directors include media solicitor Brian Eagles, US TV director Joseph Hardy an
  • Telecinco doubles profits; unveils Internet launch

    Spanish private broadcaster TeleCinco has reported a 51.9% profit increase for the 1999 financial year to euros110.5m (pts18,388m). Revenue rose 24.3% to euros512.7m (pts85,301m) over the same period.The channel, which described itself as "the most profitable [channel] in Europe", attributed the strong results to increased ad revenue, higher audience shares and a cost reduction in operations.TeleCinco also announced the launch of a 24-hour Internet news channel, informativostele
  • Telefilm Canada suspends Cinar's federal funding

    Cinar''s current production activities could be at risk as financing from federal funding body Telefilm Canada has been suspended pending the results of investigations into the company''s activities. Canadian Television has also cut off its funding to Cinar.Once a stock market darling with a wholesome family image, Cinar has been under a rapidly growing cloud of suspicion over the last year, and particularly in the last month, during which time it admitted its financial records might b
  • TF1 chief accuses Canal Plus of monopoly position

    Patrick Le Lay, chairman of French broadcaster TF1 which part owns the TPS digital platform, has launched a fresh attack on Canal Plus over the on-going issue of access to pay-TV rights.Le Lay has written to state film body CNC accusing Canal Plus, which controls rival platform Canal Satellite, of monopolising the pay-TV market. Canal Plus currently controls a pay-TV window attached to its high investment in French production. TPS has been lobbying for the creation of a second window -
  • The Mill Group appoints Shenfield CEO

    UK visual effects company The Mill Group has appointed Robin Shenfield as chief executive officer.Shenfield was one of the original founders of The Mill in 1990 along with current production director, Pat Joseph. The company, which has facilities in London and the UK's Shepperton Studios, provides digital effects for feature films, TV commercials and music promos and has credits including The World Is Not Enough and Shakespeare In Love.Antony Hunt will continue in
  • UPC set to float broadband division

    Dutch cable giant, UPC is to float chello, its broadband Internet subsidiary. The move is expected to herald rapid expansion of its services in Europe and Latin America.UPC, which this month announced the takeover of TV group SBS Broadcasting, said that chello will probably be floated in the next three months. It declined to put a value on the operation, but financial analysts said $9.7bn (euros10bn) is a possible target. The shares will be simultaneously listed in Amsterdam and New Yo
  • Village plans to sell Harvest stake to hotel chain

    Australia's Village Roadshow plans to sell its 34.7% stake in Hong Kong movie company Golden Harvest Entertainment to Hong Kong-based Lai Sun Hotels International for $40m (HK$304.3m). The deal is conditional on the consent of Golden Harvest founder and chairman Raymond Chow."Village Roadshow is now totally focused on its core business of exhibition, production, radio and theme parks and continuing to hold shares in Golden Harvest is not consistent with our plans," said Village
  • Warner, Fox to part ways in Brazil

    Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros are to end their Brazilian distribution alliance - formed less than two years ago - at the end of November.According to Fox Warner Brazil general manager Marco Oliviera, Brazil's improving economy and rapidly expanding exhibition market have prompted both companies to go it alone. "Both companies are doing so well [in Brazil] that they have decided they would be better off independent," Oliviera said. However Fox and Warner will retain their
  • Zee launches English-language movie channel

    Indian broadcaster Zee Network launched two 24-hour satellite channels on Saturday (March 18) - an English-language entertainment channel, called Zee English, and an English-language film channel, Zee Movies.Zee has acquired more than 700 films from US and UK companies for the launch, including Warner Bros International Television, MGM and CBS in the US and Pearson Television International and Carlton International in the UK. The broadcaster is also reportedly in talks with the movie a