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23 March 2004

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  • ...and mulls shifting dates to November

    Mar del Plata, Latin America's only A grade film festival,is considering shifting its dates from March to November, according to festivalchief Miguel Pereira.The festival, which wrapped its 19th edition on Saturday,finds it difficult to attract the films they want, says Pereira, as it issandwiched between Berlin and Cannes in the festival calendar.He hopes that a November slot will lessen the competitionfor films. "I am a realist and I have to understand the context of whenand w
  • Almodovar enjoys career-best Spanish opening

    Pedro Almodovar scored his best ever opening in Spain at theweekend when Bad Education (La Mala Educacion) grossed an estimated $1.6m and 245,000 admissions from 158prints in his home country.The El Deseo production, which will open this year's Cannes Film Festival in May, was released through Warner BrosPictures International and at time of writing appears to have just been beatento first place by Buena Vista International's adventure title Hidalgo
  • Arclight takes on two pictures from Cecchi Gori

    Arclight Films has acquiredinternational rights to two titles from Gianni Nunnari's Los Angeles-based Cecchi GoriPictures - family movie My Weststarring Harvey Keitel and David Bowie and the period drama Canone Inverso, which stars Hans Matheson and Gabriel Byrne.Arclight willtake both titles to MIP-TV in Cannes, which the company is attending for thefirst time at the end of the month.Both deals were brokered byCecchi Gori Pictures vice president of business and le

    Three new films failed to dislodge two Icon films, The Butterfly Effect and The Passion Of The Christ, from the top two spots in the charts and had to settle for third, fourth and fifth in the popularity stakes.The opening trio was UIP's Paycheck, which took A$756,656 from 192 screens, 20th Century Fox's Agent Cody Banks 2, which grossed A$634,634 from 171 screens, and BVI's Hidalgo, which sold A$521,160 worth of tickets to 150 screens.The thir
  • Belleville. Belvaux, Coninx among Belgium's Plateau nominees

    Organisers at the FlandersInternational Film Festival Ghent (FIFF) have announced the nominees for theJoseph Plateau Awards 2003. All titles are Belgian shorts and features and musthave been released in Belgian theatres between Jan 1 and Dec 31 2003.The Joseph Plateau ceremonywas launched under the auspices of the FIFF to honour the year's bestBelgian films. It is separate from the festival's feature film competition'The Impact of Music on Film'.The winners will beannounced on M
  • Berlin winner Head-On hits Turkish box office jackpot

    Turkish-Geman director Fatih Akin's Golden Bear winner Head-On(Gegen Die Wand) has hit the box-officejackpot in Turkey registering 65,547 admissions in its first week of release.The film is being distributed by RFilm through Warner Bros.Turkey on 55 prints in 10 cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and smallercentres like Antalya, Bursa, Mersin and Gaziantep.'This is considered to be a wide release for ourterritory and our company', RFilm's Erdi Zenc
  • Birmingham IMAX cinema to re-open over Easter

    The IMAX cinema in the UK city of Birmingham is to re-open over Easter after closing at the end of 2003 after massive losses.The giant 50x70ft Imax cinema, based at the Millennium Point, was forced out of business at the end of December when Cinegrand Birmingham, the UK company running the operation went into liquidation after losing £600,000 in a year.Now, according to local press reports, bosses at Millennium Point have signed a deal with Canadian parent company IMAX Corp to r
  • Blind Flight

    Dir: John Furse. UK. 2003. 96 minsExceptional performances from Ian Hart and Linus Roache lend a compelling authority to the true story of hostages Brian Keenan and John McCarthy. Both actors get under the skin of two very different characters, capturing their individual personalities but also illuminating the common humanity that allowed them to endure their ordeal as long-term captives in the Lebanon. Based largely on Keenan's bestselling memoir An Evil Cradling,
  • Burt & Raquel together again in Forget About It

    Filming is underway inArizona and New Jersey this week on Beverly Hills Film Studio's (BHFS) UScomedy adventure Forget About It,starring Burt Reynolds, Raquel Welch and Charles Durning.Styled as Grumpy Old Men meets Analyze This, Forget About It centres on an East Coast wiseguy whose efforts tostick to the straight and narrow under the FBI's Witness Protection Programmeare severely tested by the mischievous locals. Robert Loggia and Michael Palomaalso star.
  • Chokher Bali opens second Indian Film Festival in LA

    The secondIndian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) kicks off on Apr 14 with the LApremiere of Rituparno Ghosh's period piece Chokher Bali (A Passion Play) and closes on Apr 18 with SudhirMishra's drama Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi (A Thousand Dreams Such As These).All in all thefestival will screen 25 pictures including six North American premieres and aspecial tribute to the distinguished Indian actress Kirron Kher (Bend ItLike Beckham,
  • Christ beaten by the Undead at the box office

    StrikeEntertainment's zombie remake Dawn Of The Dead roared into life at the weekend as itopened number one for Universal Pictures on an estimated $27.3m, knocking ThePassion Of The Christfrom its top berth as that picture closed in on $300m in its fourth week.Elsewhere WarnerBros serial killer thriller Taking Lives opened third on $11.4m while Focus Features' brainteaser ofa romantic comedy Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind opened sixth on $8.6m.
  • Comment: UK tax changes hit middlemen

    The UK government has overhauled tax-based funding for films by cutting out the middlemen.Still no doubt smarting from the negative press over last month's clamp down on GAAP funds, finance minister Gordon Brown this week set out to tighten up a sector where some funds, he said, were abusing the system.Under the rules unveiled in this week's budget, film-makers will no longer need a group of wealthy investors to put their money into a film partnership. In fact, the new rules do
  • Crossroads acquires Acts Of Charity script for Winter to direct

    New York-based commercials,music video and movie producer Crossroads Films has optioned rights to thescreenplay Acts Of Charity by UKscreenwriter Chips Hardy and Alex Winter, the London-based film-maker who isalso attached to direct the film.Alan Rickman is attached toplay the role of British ex-pat journalist in the film which follows the trialsand tribulations of a young corporate executive sent on a hopeless humanitarianmission deep into the jungles of a struggling African na
  • CTFDI rake in $5.5m from Gothika including top slot in Netherlands

    The thriller Gothika added $5.5m from 1,700 screens in 30 markets through ColumbiaTriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) at the weekend to raise itsinternational running total to $44.5m.
  • Daskalakis named as acting head of MEDIA Programme

    Costas Daskalakis, the MEDIA Programme's head of Administration, Finance and Pilot Projects, is to become acting head of the unit when Jacques Delmoly leaves the post at the end of the month.Originally, Dr. Alain Dumort, head of the communication and youth department at the European Commission's Education and Culture Directorate General, was going to take over from Delmoly on April 1 (, 11 February 2004).In one of his last of his last public engagements a
  • Dawn Of The Dead

    Dir: Zack Snyder. US. 2003. 100mins.It may not have the intensity and satirical touch that made George Romero's original Dawn Of The Dead a modern horror classic. But this 're-envisioning' of Romero's 1979 cult favourite by commercials director Zack Snyder at least partially makes up for the lack with a gleeful excess of gory zombie action, odd characters and dark humour.Universal, which launches the film in the US this weekend, should be able to generate a

    Little changed on the top of the Danish chart as veteran Erik Clausen managed to stay on top for the second week as his new film Villa Paranoia dropped just 10%.It has already attracted 68,134 admissions (DKR3.494.645) on its high 62 prints despite not having a particular high screen average, and seems to be on the course to match the now 62 year-old filmmaker's last effort Release All the Horses, which sold 186,617 tickets in 2000.However, this week's best screen
  • Denmark's Madsen readies Kira's Reason follow-up

    Danish writer-director Ole Christian Madsen, who swept the national film awards in 2002 with Dogme film Kira's Reason, starts shooting his third highly anticipated feature Nordkraft on Mar 31.Set in Denmark's biggest Northern city Aalborg, the film is based on Jakob Ejersbo's debut novel from 2002, and follows a group of young misfits in search for a reason to live.Director Madsen adapted the novel in collaboration with Bo hr. Hansen (Wallah Be). "When I rea
  • Disney's Brother Bear claws in $200m

    An estimated $10.1m international weekend haul propelled Disney's BrotherBear past $200m inworldwide ticket sales, making it Disney's 16th animated title to reach themark.The picture raised its international running total to $115.5m andhas taken more than $85m at the domestic box office.Weekend business was fuelled chiefly by a $4.7m number one openingweekend in Germany from 740 screens, passing in dollar amount previous openingsby Tarzan, Shrek, Monsters
  • Elwes, Heard join cast of Millenium's thriller Edison

    Cary Elwes andJohn Heard have joined the cast of Millennium Films and Emmett/Furla Films'journalism thriller Edison, which stars Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, LL Cool J and JustinTimberlake and began production on Saturday in Vancouver.The storyfollows a young journalist (Timberlake) who teams up with a reporter (Freeman)and the district attorney's ace investigator (Spacey) to uncover a corruptpolice unit. Elwes will play the district attorney and Heard plays a policecaptain.
  • EU cinema admissions fall 5% in 2003

    Cinema attendance in the European Union's 15 member states dropped by 5% in 2003, according to first estimates from the European Audiovisual Observatory.Provisional data shows that admissions in eight of the biggest EU states fell to 890.5m last year. Germany registered the steepest drop of -9.1% to 149 million. The only country to show an increase was Ireland, where admissions rose 0.6% to 17.4 millionThe EAO also records figures for a number of the countries that join the EU i
  • Film journalist named new director of Sydney film fest

    Film journalist for The Australian newspaper, Lynden Barber, is the new director of the 2005 and 2006 Sydney Film Festival, taking over from Gayle Lake on July 1 after the completion of this year's event.Announcing the appointment, festival president Cathy Robinson said there had been "an exhaustive search in Australia and overseas, with dozens of candidates listed and a lengthy process employed to produce the best result for the Festival's future"."Lynden has emerged as a treme
  • Film-makers Alliance sets US DVD date for Madison

    The Film-makersAlliance has acquired US rights to Erik Moe, Peter Rudy and David Fleer's awardwinning comedy No Sleep 'Til Madison and will release it straight to DVD in April.The picture stars comedian Jim Gaffigan and won theSundance Channel Emerging Film-maker Award at the St Louis International FilmFestival.The storycentres on an obsessive sports fan's man's annual pilgrimage to the Wisconsinstate hockey tournament and the charact
  • Fox reaps Passion benefits with massive Latin American weekend

    The Passion Of The Christ enjoyed a mighty series of openings in Latin Americathrough Fox International at the weekend, grossing an estimated $10.2m overalland scoring a number of records in the process.Mel Gibson's epic accountof the final hours of Christ's life opened to

    Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller opened strong in Along Came Polly this week with nearly half a million tickets sold - narrowly beating out French romance Une Vie A T'Attendre which did nearly as well on slightly fewer screens. The Thierry Klifa directed film boasts a stellar cast with Nathalie Baye and Patrick Bruel as long lost lovers.Those two new entries knocked last week's top film Malabar Princess off of its top spot although the film continues to perform wel
  • France Telecom and Canal Plus merge cable ops

    Canal Plus and FranceTelecom have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to combine theirFrench cable networks in a sign of further upheaval in the troubled sector.The groups says that mergingtheir cable operations NC Numericable and France Telecom Cable, respectivelythe country's third and second largest networks, would "create the conditionsfor the necessary consolidation of the cable industry."Both companies have spentmany months unsuccessfully trying to sell off their
  • France's Spring cinema promotion attracts 2.5 million

    France's annual Spring promotional drive 'Printemps Au Cinema' clocked up 2.5 million spectators, who took advantage of the cut-price ticket offer at cinemas across the country.The three-day figure meant no change compared with the 2003 promo drive and was a touch disappointing after a strong start on Sunday, when numbers were up 15%. For three days (14-16 March) ticket prices at all the country's 5,300 cinemas are reduced to Euros 3.50, which represents a discount of up to 50% compare
  • French production hits record levels in 2003

    All lights went green lastyear in the French production sector.Production volume in Francereached an all-time high of 212 features; total production spend on Frenchfeatures or majority French co-productions soared by 34% from Euros861m in 2002to Euros1.15bn; and foreign investment doubled from Euros182m to Euros364m.According to new data fromthe National Cinema Centre (CNC) the number of features qualifying as Frenchpassed the 200 mark for the third year running and the number o
  • Fuse secures US distribution

    The Global Film Initiative, the US organisation set up to promotecross-cultural understanding through cinema, has picked up Pjer Zalica'saward-winning Bosnian comedy-drama Fuse, which has been selected for the 33rd New Directors/NewFilms series in New York.Set in the devastated Bosnian settlement of Teanj twoyears after civil war has ravaged the former Yugoslav region, the story followsthe frenzied antics of the townspeople as they attempt to drive out corruptionone week before
  • Gelber, Garfinkel, Fischer get senior promotions at Showtime

    ShowtimeNetworks has promoted three key programming executives with Danielle Gelberbecoming senior vice president of original programming, Gary Garfinkel risingto senior vice president of film acquisitions and Sara Fischer named as seniorvice president of production.All three willcontinue to work out of the company's Los Angeles office. Gelber will continueto report to executive vice president of original programming Gary Levine,Garfinkel to executive vice president
  • German police swoop in massive anti-piracy raid

    Germany's Federation Against Copyright Theft (GVU) has carried out the world's biggest ever anti-piracy operation.800 apartments, company premises and computer centres were raided in Munich, Frankfurt/Main, Bremen, Cologne and the Ruhr region on March 16 and 18.After two years of investigation, the GVU said it had exposed the activities of two groups behind the illegal production and distribution of German versions of films such as The Lord Of The Rings, Finding Nemo

    The Passion Of The Christ took $ 2.36m on its opening weekend from 406 screens, but it was robbed of the No. 1 ranking by Disney's Brother Bear which picked up over $ 4.6m from 741 sites. Brother Bear also scored the weekend's highest screen average with $ 6,240, followed by Passion's $ 5,829 and Berlinale Golden Bear winner Head-On's $ 5, 298.According to The Passion's distributor Constantin Film, admission figures for the film were uniform th
  • Germany's Senator holds crisis talks with banks

    German producer-distributor Senator Entertainment is to hold talks with its financing banks in a bid to save the company from collapse.The move was announced yesterday when the Berlin based company said it had to write-off the value of some of its film assets and investments - a move which could lead to the "exhaustion of half or all of the share capital" in the company.In a statement, Senator blamed "the continually deteriorating market conditions in the cinema sector as we
  • GREECE Production Listings - March 22 2004

    GREECE - March 22PRE-PRODUCTIONBLUE DRESS (TO GALAZIO FOREMA)(The Greek Film Centre, NIK-S Movies) Co-prod: Tania Bokomilova Prods (Bulgaria). Budget: Euros 900,000. Backers: Eurimages, ET1 Greek Public TV. Int'l sales: The Greek Film Centre. Social drama. A man who decides to change sex and has to bear with the ensuing dramatic developments in his daily life. Prod: Nikos Sekeris. Dir: Giannis Diamantopoulos. Scr: Panos Papadopoulos. DoP: Andreas Sinanos
  • Greek industry looks for success in int'l markets

    For full Greek production listings, click HEREThe outlook for the Greek film industry seems quite gloomy in the local distribution/exhibition sectors - despite the recent record admissions of Touch Of Spice - but prospects look much more promising abroad.The year started with the acclaimed presentation of Theo Angelopoulos' new opus, Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow, at the Berlin Film Fest
  • IMAX signs deal with Showplace Cinemas to open theatre in Indiana

    IMAX Corp has signed a dealto open an IMAX theatre in one of Indiana-based Showplace Cinemas' multiplexesin Evansville, Indiana.The opening is expected totake place in November at a specific location to be announced shortly and willemploy the company's unique MPX theatre system.The MPX technology allowsmultiplex operators to instal an IMAX theatre to an existing multiplex orretrofit two existing multiplex auditoriums into an IMAX theatre.Speaking to delegates atShoWest ye
  • India strengthens industry ties with Pakistan, UK

    The first ever entertainment industry delegation from Pakistan is currently in India to meet with its counterparts in Mumbai after a gap of 40 years.The twenty-strong delegation is led by Shaukat Zaman Khan, chairman, standing committee on Film Production & Censor Issues, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), and ex-chairman, Pakistan Film Producers Association (PFPA). The delegation will consist of prominent producers and directors, artistes and technicians.
  • Initial, Intermedia part ways after two-year marriage

    Initial Entertainment Group and Intermedia are finally partingcompany following an agreement whereby Initial president Graham King andpartner and chief operating officer Colin Cotter will acquire Initial fromIntermedia through their investment company Parliament Pictures.
  • Irreversible faces second Oz ratings review

    Australia's Classification Review Board is to re-examine the "R18+" rating given to director Gaspar Noe's Irreversible next Monday despite the film having been on release for six weeks.George Papadopolous, general manager of the film's distributor Accent Film Entertainment, told that the Australian Family Association had applied for a review of the original decision.The film, which has grossed $107,000 (A$143,000) from three screens in Sydney and Me

    Penelope Cruz has scored an impressive double whammy, starring in the top two films at the Italian box office: Medusa's Italian-language picture Don't Move, and Columbia Tristar Italia's Gothika.Actor-director Sergio Castellitto's Don't Move took the number one spot on its second weekend, grossing an extra $1,769,784 which brings the Italian-Spanish co-production's tally to date to a highly promising $4,105,766.As Medusa hiked its number of screens to 331, t
  • King continues to return, rising 11% in 12th weekend

    New Line International's TheLord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King is on the cusp of $700m at the international box office as thepicture's recent Academy Awards triumph powered another strong weekend.The picture grossed $10.7mfrom 3,151 screens in 61 markets - an impressive 11% rise in its 12th weekend -to bring its international cumulative total to $695.6m.Combined with a domestictally of $371.1m The Return Of The King has taken $1.07bn worldwide.The
  • Lantern Lane to handle US distribution of Seeing Other People

    Lantern Lane Entertainmenthas picked up US distribution rights to film and television companyPariah's romantic comedy Seeing Other People, which recently earned a US Comedy Arts Festivalbest actress prize for Julianne Nicholson.A limited US release isplanned in New York, Los Angeles and two additional markets on May 7, expandingto other cities at a later date.Directed by Wally Wolodarsky(Sorority Boys) and produced byPariah chief Gavin Polone, Seeing Other Peopl
  • Madstone launches film school editing programme with 50 hours of a real film

    New York-basedentertainment company Madstone has launched a film school editing programmethat will allow students to experiment on footage from Aaron Woodley's upcomingcoming-of-age drama Rhinoceros Eyes.The picture,which is the first to emerge from the Madstone Directors Programme and won the2003 Toronto Film Festival Discovery Award, will serve as the basis for a filmediting lab at nine film schools in the US.Students willget access to all 50 hours o
  • Malaga opens with Violet Gaze

    The Violet Gaze willinaugurate the 7th annual Spanish Film Festival of Malaga (April 23-May 1),which is also set to honour director Fernando Trueba, distributor EnriqueGonzalez Macho and actress Geraldine Chaplin.Directed by Nacho Perez and Jesus Ruiz (Marta AndSurroundings), Gaze (La Mirada Violeta)stars Cayetano Guillen-Cuervo in a story of female infidelity, love andrelationships. Mundo Ficcion and Violeta Films co-produce.Gaze will be one of16 new Spanis
  • Mar del Plata celebrates Buena Vida

    Latin America's only A grade film festival, Mar del Plata inArgentina, wrapped on Saturday (March 20) with the prize for best film, theGolden Astor, going to a local picture, Buena Vida Delivery.Leonardo Di Cesare's directorial debut, which received backingfrom the Argentinian film institute (INCAA), Film Sud in France and the HubertBals Fund, is a gentle comedy-drama about a kind-hearted young man who falls inlove with moody but beautiful woman.After she moves in with hi
  • Mar del Plata chief postpones Village shoot

    Argentine film-maker and Mar del Plata festival chief Miguel Pereira has postponed principal photography on his next feature, The Man Who Came To A Village, for six months, citing last month's changes to the UK tax rules as being the catalyst for the decision. The film's financial package is to be restructured and the budget scaled back.Pereira was due to begin shooting the film, which was co-written by Pereira and Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton and executive produced by anoth
  • Media 8 boards Wayne Kramer's Running Scared

    Media 8Entertainment, the sales and co-financing outfit behind Oscar-winner Monster, has agreed to co-finance, along with VIP Medienfonds, RunningScared, the new filmfrom The Coolerdirector Wayne Kramer.Paul Walker isin final negotiations to head the cast of the $12m film which is a PulpFiction-style ensemblecrime movie following an assortment of characters trying to gain possession ofa gun owned by the mob and used to kill a corrupt cop. Walker plays a youn
  • Mickie, Chesneau join Celluloid Dreams

    Charlotte Mickie and Sebastian Chesneau are to bolster the sales team of French film sales powerhouse Celluloid Dreams. Their arrival coincides with the forthcoming departure of long-standing Celluloid sales executive Pierre Menahem.Having handled titles including Bowling For Columbine and Ararat, veteran seller Mickie recently saw her job eliminated by Alliance Atlantis as part of its latest cost-cutting measures (, 17 Dec 2003). Chesneau joins from
  • Mumbai cinemas threaten permanent closure

    Over 900 cinemas in Mumbai and the surrounding Indian state of Maharashtra have threatened to close indefinitely on March 19 in protest against the government's entertainment tax policy.The call for action was sounded by the Cinematograph Exibitors' Association of India (CEAI) president Nester D'Souza and Theatre Owners' Association (TOA) president R V Vidhani.The Association claims that the Maharashtra government has reneged on its promise to reduce entertainment tax from 55% t
  • Myriad promotes Rappaport, Chiu, Chordia

    Los Angeles- and London-based MyriadPictures has made three promotions, according to a statement from presidentKirk D'Amico.JC Rappaport has beenpromoted from manager of acquisitions to director of acquisitions anddevelopment in the company's LA office; Linda Chiu, also in the LA office, hasbeen promoted to creative executive, international production. Both will reportto DC;Amico.Meanwhile Neil Chordia hasbeen named co-production manager in the company's London office report
  • New UK distributor builds release slate

    Enjoy Cinema Ltd., the new UK theatrical distribution outfit set up earlier this year by Simon Gosling (ex-HanWay), has announced details of its first acquisitions.To mark the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid, Enjoy is to release Jason Xenopoulos' Promised Land in the early summer. Based on the novel by Karel Schoeman, this is a thriller about a young London-based lawer who returns to South Africa to scatter his mother's ashes. He encounters a country where embittered wh

    New Zealanders are proving to be god-fearing types. That is one explanation, anyway, for The Passion Of The Christ being the most popular film for the fifth consecutive weekend. The film's NZ$234,685 gross for the four days to March 21 was higher than each of the two previous weekends but this was helped by screen numbers being boosted from 29 to 39.Next down the chart was Columbia TriStar's Mona Lisa Smile, which took NZ$180,581 on previews from 53 screens, then BVI's
  • Newmarket goes Bush-whacking with Sayles

    Indie hothouse NewmarketFilms has acquired North American rights to John Sayles' Silver City, a star-studded political satire about the state ofAmerican democracy that will be released this autumn to coincide with the final weeks of this year's USpresidential race.Written, directed and editedby John Sayles, Silver City wasproduced by Maggie Renzi and shot in Denver last autumn by Haskell Wexler,Sayles' collaborator on films such as Limbo, The Secret Of Roan Inis

    While the top three spots remained in the hands of Spykids 3D: Game Over, Brother Bear and The Young Olsen Gang Rocks, a fourth family oriented film, Cheaper By The Dozen, managed to push Something's Gotta Give from fourth to sixth.Disappointingly, despite a solid screen average and highly favourable reviews, Hans Petter Moland's The Beautiful Country's 15 prints were only enough for a seventh position on the chart.The film, which was also well
  • Oz's Rialto aquires arthouse trio

    Rialto Entertainment has picked up three arthouse titles for distribution in Australia and New Zealand as a result of negotiations at the AFM.The three titles are: Joshua Marston's Maria Full Of Grace from HBO Films London, Ken Loach's Ae Fond Kiss from The Works and Ondrej Trojan's Zelary from Menemsha Entertainment.Among Rialto's upcoming releases is director Jim Jarmush's Coffee And Cigarettes and Gus Van Sant's Palme D'Or winner Elephant, w
  • Paramount steps in for DreamWorks on Ask The Dust

    ParamountPictures is stepping in to replace DreamWorks as the domestic distributor onRobert Towne's Ask The Dust which is being financed with German media fund VIP andLondon's Capitol Films. Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek are scheduled to star.Paramount is infinal negotiations to board the film which is being produced by Tom Cruise andPaula Wagner's Paramount-based C/W Productions and Jonas McCord (TheCompany, Eulogy).
  • Parliament ratifies Belgian tax shelter

    Members of the Belgian parliament yesterday unanimously voted in favour of the country's proposed tax shelter scheme (see 8 Jan 2004)The scheme, which took practical effect from Jan 1, permits reductions in corporate tax bills in return for guarantees on production spending in Belgium.Investors are able to enjoy a 150% corporation tax reduction against their investment, while producers have to spend 150% of the equity portion of the investment in Belgium.
  • Passion fever hits Latin America through Fox

    Cry havoc and let slip ThePassion Of The Christ. Mel Gibson'sBiblical epic and number one US smash hit is gearing up for some divine boxoffice performances this upcoming weekend when Fox International opens thepicture in its first Latin American markets.Passion is going out on1,216 prints in nine mostly Catholic markets, with almost half the print count(555) reserved for what should be a mighty Mexican bow on Mar 19.The picture also opens thesame day in Brazil on 400 prin

    Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ racked up a running total box office gross of $3,822,060 in its second week at number at the Polish box office.An earlier announcement that the Pope had seen the film undoubtedly boosted box office in the highly Catholic country.But Polish contemporary romance Nigdy W Zyciu! (Never Again) was doing excellent business in its fifth week in the charts and with a running gross of $4,614,846 it reaffirmed the continuing upbeat tre
  • Polly is top in Taiwan, Argentina for Universal, strides past $50m

    Universal's romantic comedy Along Came Polly passed $50m in international ticketsales at the weekend as it added an estimated $8.8m through UIP from 2,600dates in 24 markets for a $53.1m running total.

    Cold Mountain kept its leading position at the Romanian box office for the second week running despite a hefty 44% fall-off compared to its opening weeks' performance.Same can't be said about The Last Samurai which is still making a strong 5,000 each weekend despite running for six weeks already.Of last week's newcomers only family comedy Cheaper By The Dozen was able to manage a strong opening, Timeline and The Barbarian Invasions only managed
  • Rozier to be Critics Week patron

    Jacques Rozier, the Frenchdirector who was one of the founding fathers of the Nouvelle Vague, has beenappointed patron of the Critics' Week (13-21 May) sidebar for the forthcomingCannes film festival.As patron Rozier willsupport and advise the event and on Monday 17 May lead an organised debate withthe directors whose films appear in the Critics' Week selection.The Critics Week will inturn hold a special screening of his first feature Adieu Philippine, a filmwhich contras
  • Saved! will open New York Gen Art festival on Apr 14

    The Ninth Annual Gen ArtFilm Festival will open on Apr 14 with the New York premiere of BrianDannelly's dark comedy Saved!starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin.The American independentfestival runs until Apr 20 and will showcase New York premieres of sevenfeatures and seven shorts. The closing night film will be announced shortly.Saved! tells the tale of a group of high school studentswho team up to help each other survive their
  • Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

    Dir: Raja Gosnell. US. 2003. 93 mins.The sequel to Warner's surprisingly powerful summer 2002 hit Scooby-Doo adds more characters and more effects to the formula first used to turn the long-running Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon into a live action feature - and it also delivers more genuine fun than its painfully forced predecessor. The extra oomph may be especially needed in the domestic market, where Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed gets a pre-Easter release and wil
  • Seducing Dr Lewis leads Canada's Genie nods

    Jean-Francois Pouliot's Seducing Dr. Lewis grabbed 11 nominations while Denys Arcand's Academy Award winner The Barbarian Invasions earned nine nominations and Robert Lepage's The Far Side Of The Moon earned four nominations for the 2004 Genie Awards.All three Quebec titles were nominated in the Best Motion Picture category, as were Charles Martin Smith's The Snow Walker, which had nine nominations, and Richard Kwietniowski's Owning Mahowny, a Canada-
  • Senator admits it has no remaining share capital

    The possibility ofinsolvency is no longer being ruled out at beleaguered Germanproducer-distributor Senator Entertainment after it admitted that its sharecapital has now been completely exhausted in writing off its film assets and investments.German press reports quotedSenator's head of investor relations/corporate communications Karl-W. Homburgas saying a decision on the concern's future would be decided 'in a fewweeks'. 'There will be a quick reaction to restore t

    In spite of its gradual decline, Robbery Of The Third Reich is still stealing most of the Serbian-Montenegrin box office. In its fourth weekend, the local blockbuster sold another 20,297 admissions and remained unchallenged in the top position with a total gross of $669,716 for Mirius.Tuck opened Something's Gotta Give in second place with 6,652 tickets which added to previews and screenings at Belgrade International Film Festival FEST to make a cumulative of $42,240.
  • Silver Bullet to open Bucharest Studios in April

    Romanian production company Silver Bullet Film is to open new studio facilities in the country at the end of April.Work began on Bucharest Studios, situated in Romania's capital, at the beginning of February. Initial work is underway on a 1000 square metre sound stage, which is expected to be operational by late April 2004.Silver Bullet is also planning to refurbish one of the biggest water tanks in Europe, next to the studio, in expectation of at least one production in 2004 wh
  • Singapore to host India's international Academy Awards

    Singapore is to host the fifth International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards on May 22.The IIFA Awards, which are designed to raise the international profile of Indian film, have previously been held in London, Sun City in South Africa, the Genting Islands in Malaysia and Johannesburg.Stars from both Indian and international cinema look set to attend this year's event, including Amitabh Bachchan, Mira Nair, Shah Rukh Khan, Shekhar Kapur, Angelina Jolie, Kylie Minogue, Jackie C
  • Spanish film-makers pin hopes on incoming Socialists

    The Spanish film industry, as surprised as the rest ofsociety by the upset in last week's national elections, is lookingforward to positive changes under a new Socialist government.But with only vague electoral promises and the generous filmpolicies of the party's prior 14-year reign to go on, the industry mustnow wait to see what the future holds when Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero takesover the presidency as expected next month.A key talking point will be increasing funding for
  • Spearritt moves from S Club 7 to Seed Of Chucky

    HannahSpearritt, the British actress formerly with pop group S Club 7, has joined thecast of Focus Features' Seed Of Chucky, which began filming in Romania earlier this week.Spearritt made herHollywood debut in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London opposite Frankie Muniz for MGM whichopened in the US last weekend.The fifthinstalment in the horror franchise started by Child's Play in 1988 centres on Glen, the son ofhomicidal dolls Chucky and Tiffany, who bec
  • Spring, Summer proves a winner at Las Palmas

    Kim Ki-Duk's South Korean festival favourite Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...And Spring won best film and cinematography prizes at Spain's fifth annual Las Palmas International Film Festival (March 12-20).Recuperating from the shock of the March 11 Madrid bombings, which saw opening night festivities cancelled, the festival picked up steam during the week with visits from celebrities such as honorary award recipients Mia Farrow and Omar Sharif, and actor Hayden Christensen.
  • Starsky & Hutch claim top spot in UK on $8.2m

    Starsky & Hutch claimed the number one spot inits second weekend in the UK on an estimated $8.2m from 429 screens followingwide expansion through Buena Vista International (BVI).The 1970s television adaptation opened on platform releaselast weekend and has taken $8.6m in the early stages of its international run.It opens in Germany later this week.Elsewhere, the distributor reported that Hidalgogrossed $2.6m at the weekend for a $6.6m internatio
  • Sufrin promoted at MGM's home entertainment group

    Ron Sufrin hasbeen promoted to executive vice president of business and legal affairs at MGMHome Entertainment Group, where he will oversee business and legal affairs forthe company's home entertainment, video-on-demand, pay-per-view and consumerproducts operations.Sufrin reportsto group president and chief operating officer David Bishop and Jay Rakow, MGMStudios' senior executive vice president and general counsel."Ron has playeda leading role in MGM's conti
  • Taking Lives

    Dir: DJ Caruso. US. 2004. 103 mins.Serial killer thrillers don't come slicker than this good-looking Montreal-set production from Mark Canton and Warner Bros. Boasting a stellar cast led by the larger-than-life Angelina Jolie, Taking Lives is an enjoyable studio outing in the vein of Copycat or The Bone Collector but, don't believe the ads, it should never be mentioned in the same breath as classics of the genre like The Silence Of The Lambs and
  • The Ladykillers

    Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen. US. 2004. 104 mins.After the Coen Brothers' unmemorable Intolerable Cruelty last year, The Ladykillers represents another awkward fusion of their distinctive style and studio-originated material. More suited to their sensibilities than the fizzy screwball high-jinks the brothers attempted to whip up in Cruelty, The Ladykillers is still half-baked Coens, neither the peculiar and delicious pitch-black crime comedy of Blood
  • Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo

    Dir: Luca Lucini. Italy. 2004. 102 mins.Federico Moccia's novel Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo (which translates as 'Three Steps Over Heaven') was a real teen phenomenon in Italy: first published in 1992, it soon went out of print, but high-school students continued to circulate photocopied copies of the work - one of which eventually found its way into the hands of producer Riccardo Tozzi at Cattleya.A contemporary, Rome-set variation on the age-old 'nice
  • UA takes up Turturro's Romance And Cigarettes

    United Artistshas picked up rights in North America, Australia/New Zealand and South Africato Romance And Cigarettes which is scheduled to start shooting in New York this month.The movie iswritten and directed by actor John Turturro and features an ensemble castincluding Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon, Christopher Walken, Mandy Moore,Mary-Louise Parker and James Gandolfini.John Penotti andhis New York-based financing and production house GreeneStreet Films areproducing the
  • UK exhibitors talk up prospects for 2004 box office

    A marked optimism for cinema's prospects in 2004 wasevident among UK exhibitors and distributors who attended last week's 7thNational UK Cinema Industry Conference in London (March 18).Good news for the UK industry came in the first sessionwhich looked at areas such as marketing, audience tastes and the admissionsblip of 2003.Tomas Jegeus, senior vice president of internationalmarketing for UIP, put 2003's marginal fall off down to the quality ofthe product, "The only reason adm
  • UK film sector welcomes new funding rules

    UK qualifying films will be able to access 20% of their budget in tax-related support under dramatic new rules unveiled by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown in today's (March 17) budget.Replacing tax-based support under Section 48, the new system will offer filmmakers a credit or rebate worth 20% of budgets that they can offset against profits or surrender to the Treasury for a cash payment. The system will launch next year, when Section 48 expires.The move is aimed at cutting back the
  • UK video industry bankrolls anti-piracy outfit

    The UK video industry has raised £1.2m to bankroll a new company to help fight piracy.The Industry Trust for IP Awareness Ltd has been registered as a non-profit making company with the objective creating a fighting fund to tackle copyright theft, which it says is costing the film and video industry upwards of £500 million.The inaugural meeting took place on Thursday last week, with key high street retailers and video distributors agreeing the terms of engagement for a concerted

    Three new films impressed in the UK this week while three more were left out in the cold. It was little surprise after it opened top in the Republic of Ireland and took $2.6m (£1.4m) in UK nationwide previews last weekend that Starsky & Hutch would top the table this week. Opening wide at 450 locations BVI's comedic remake of the cult '70s cop show boasted a stunning site average of more than $11,000.Following gushing reviews Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi managed an all-time

    While the UK chart saw a new leader in Columbia TriStar's Mona Lisa Smile this week and surprisingly strong support from second-placed UIP romantic drama Honey, it was limited releases that held most sway.BVI launched '70s TV spin-off Starsky & Hutch in London's Odeon Leicester Square and in sites across the Republic of Ireland to score the best screen average of the week and land fifth place in the chart. This impressive debut, combined with the massive $2.5m (£1.
  • Unifrance returns to UK with French Film Season

    French film export body Unifrance has unveiled the programme for its annual promotional event in the UK, the Renault French Film Season.In partnership with the French Institute of London and exhibitor UGC UK, Unifrance will underwrite a tour of the UK by four French films that are soon to start their UK theatrical releases. (Previous promo events in the UK were sponsored by drinks group Martell.) Talent and directors from the four films will travel to London on March 25 and the followi
  • Valenti: Hollywood's global ticket take passes $20bn

    The worldwidetheatrical marketplace was worth an unprecedented $20.5bn in ticket sales forthe US studios and their affiliates, declared MPAA chief Jack Valenti on theopening day of ShoWest exhibitors' convention in Las Vegas.With worldwideadmissions dropping 5% last year, Valenti also acknowledged that thisrecord-breaking dollar figure came as a result of rising ticket prices ratherthan any underlying improvement in the theatrical business. He attributed at least partof that admissions
  • Van Peebles gets ShoWest international lifetime award

    Melvin Van Peebles will receive the ShoWest 2004International Lifetime Achievement Award, completing a distinguished talentroster set to appear when the Las Vegas industry convention runs from Mar22-25.Van Peeblesfamously directed and starred in the 1971 blaxploitaiton picture SweetSweetback's Baadasssss Song and his other credits include the 1968 drama The Story Of AThree Day Pass.Van Peebles' sonMario has created a documenta
  • Verve takes UK rights to Winterbottom's Code 46

    Fledgling UK distributor Verve Pictures has acquired Michael Winterbottom's Code 46 and is planning a 60 print release for the film in September.Code 46 is the biggest title which Verve has yet handled. The sci-fi drama, starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton, received its world premiere at last year's Venice Festival.Verve was formed in 2003 by Giorgia Lo Savio, Julia Short and Colin Burch. Lo Savio and Burch worked formerly at FilmFour as head of press and publ
  • Viacom extends TV accords in China

    Viacom, the media conglomerate that owns Paramount, Blockbuster, MTV and CBS, announced that it had reached several new agreements with Chinese partners covering programming, production and information technology.The agreements follow a week-long tour of China by veteran Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone. However, Redstone failed to obtain the extension to the existing broadcasting permit for music channel MTV that he had aimed for.In a deal which it says marks the first investmen
  • Vivendi reduces its losses to Euros 1.1bn

    Vivendi Universal recorded a net loss of Euros1.14bn for 2003, down from the record breaking loss by a French company of Euros 23.3bn that it registered in 2002.The group said that the results reflected tighter management of costs and the disposal of several assets, although the sale of the US studio assets (Vivendi Universal Entertainment), announced in October, have not yet been completed.Pay-TV subsidiary Canal Plus provided one of the most dramatic areas of improvement. It r
  • What Will Become Of Us earns 12 Italian Oscar nods

    In a surprise turn of events, Giovanni Veronesi's coming-of-age tale Che Ne Sara' Di Noi (literally, What Will Become Of Us) scored a massive 12 nominations for the David di Donatellos awards, Italy's most prestigious accolade - beating films from long-established directors such as Marco Bellocchio, Marco Tullio Giordana and Gabriele Salvatores.Distributed and produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis's Filmauro, the Italian picture which was released just two weeks ago, won nomi
  • Williams-Jones re-surfaces at Miramax International

    Michael Williams-Jones, theveteran distribution executive who left United International Pictures (UIP) totake a self-imposed sabbatical, is back in the picture and has taken thepresident job at Miramax International.Based out of the company'sLondon offices, Williams-Jones will oversee the marketing and distribution ofMiramax's films outside North America and will report to co-chairmen Bob andHarvey Weinstein and COO Rick Sands.Meanwhile, MiramaxInternational's two executive vice
  • Winterbottom signs on to shoot Goal!

    Michael Winterbottom is set to direct Goal!, the first film in a trilogy that follows a Latino soccer player as he moves to the UK to play for one of the territory's top-flight Premiership teams.The second and third films in the trilogy will follow the player as he moves to a club in Spain, and then plays in the World Cup, although Winterbottom is only confirmed for the first one at this stage.Reportedly set up as a three-way co-production between Milkshake Films, Icon En
  • Wu joins Genz's Chinaman in Denmark

    Los Angeles-based Chinese actress Vivian Wu has agreed to play the female lead in Henrik Ruben Genz' Danish comedy drama Chinaman, which shoots in Copenhagen from April 16 for seven weeks.Wu, who was born in Shanghai in 1966, had her acting breakthrough in The Last Emperor (1987).She will appear opposite Bjarne Henriksen (Festen), who plays a divorcee who agrees to a bogus marriage with the sister of the owner of his local Chinese restaurant. In spite of eve
  • Young Adam branded with NC-17 by MPAA

    Sony Pictures Classics will release an uncut NC-17 version ofDavid MacKenzie's drama Young Adam in the US next month following yesterday's failed eleventh hourbid to overturn the restrictive rating.