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23 October 2000

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  • Alston issues warning to Oz post sector

    Australian communications, IT and arts minister, Richard Alston, has warned the local post sector that it has only about 18 months left to exploit its current competitive advantages, because bandwidth, which connects it to the rest of the world, is "virtually unaffordable".Australian post-production companies enjoy the dual advantages of being English-speaking and able to work "through the night" for UK and US clients because of time zone differences. But Alston recently hosted two sem
  • Applications pile up for new Japanese bird

    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has said that 25 companies have applied for licences to broadcast on the next-generation N-SAT-110 communications satellite (CS), which launched from French New Guinea on October 7. The ministry expects to receive about 30 to 40 applications in total and will announce the successful candidates in December. The satellite starts operating in the second half of next year. It will orbit in the same slot as the digital broadcast satellite tha
  • Asian, US titles lead EFA non-European film nods

    Three Asian titles - Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood For Love and Edward Yang's Yi Yi - are among the six films to be nominated for the Screen International Award for non-European film at the European Film Awards (EFA). US titles Erin Brockovich, Gladiator and O Brother, Where Art Thou' will also compete.Nominations for the rest of the EFA categories will be unveiled on November 7, with the aw
  • B4U signs Doordarshan supply deal

    International Hindi movie channel B4U has signed a three-year contract with Indian state broadcaster Doordarshan to supply 35 big blockbusters to the national network. The two partners will share advertising revenues generated from broadcast of the movies. B4U, which claims to have built a subscriber base of more than 40,000 in the US since February, also plans to invest $40m in launching two more channels in the US market.
  • Bac-Cryo tie-up bears fruit with Scary web-site

    French distributor Bac Films has launched a fully interactive 3D web-site for Scary Movie, marking the first tangible result of its link-up with video game specialist Cryo Interactive. provides information on the film's content and cast; trailers and extracts from "the making of"; and video games inspired by specific scenes and created by Cryo.Scol Engine, the software needed to access the 3D site (which also exists in a 2D version), is provided by C
  • Bread And Roses wins inaugural UIP Award

    Ken Loach's Bread And Roses scooped the first ever UIP Award for best European film at this year's Rio International Film Festival. The award, voted for by the festival audience, is accompanied by a purse of Euros15,000.A total of 99 European films competed for the prize. Runners-up included Lars von Trier's Dancer In The Dark, Etore Scola's La Cena, Patrice Leconte's La Veuve De Saint Pierre and Cedric Klapish's Peut-Etre. UIP launched the awa
  • Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale seduces Summit

    Summit Entertainment has taken international rights to Brian De Palma's next picture, the independently-financed noir thriller Femme Fatale, a $30m-$35m by Tarak Ben Ammar's Paris-based production company Quinta and Kirch/Mediaset European buying alliance Epsilon.Shooting is scheduled to start on the film in late November in Europe with Uma Thurman and Jennifer Lopez mentioned as possibilities for the title role, a woman who is haunted by the misdeeds of her past.De Palma
  • Canadian movie attendance hits 38-year high

    Canadians went to the pictures in record numbers in 1998-99 - the biggest years since 1972 - but that hasn't helped exhibitors' profitability, according to a recent report from Statistics Canada, surveying all 692 of the nation's cinemas and drive-ins.Lured by multi-screen theatres with stadium-style seats and expanded common areas featuring video games and fast-food franchises, attendance reached a 38-year high of 112.8 million admissions, a 12% increase from the previous year, and do
  • CanalSatellite hits 1.5 million subscribers mark

    Canal Plus' French digital satellite platform CanalSatellite has reached the 1.5 million subscribers mark, and claims to be the first European digital satellite platform to show a profit.The DTH platform, launched in 1996 as an analogue service, currently offers some 200 channels. Recent additions to its line-up include film news channel AlloCine Television, celtic channel TV Breizh and Motors TV. The operator has also been allowed to carry French public broadcasters France 2 and Franc
  • Cannes sets up Residence for new talent

    The Cannes film festival has opened a film-making facility, "Residence", which will be made available to a selection of young film-makers from around the world.Those selected will be able to use the facility to work on their first or second features for four and a half months.The CNC (Centre National de la Cinematographie), the French ministry of foreign affairs and several sponsors are backing the initiative.A jury, chaired by French film-maker Olivier Assayas, has alrea
  • Chopper leads race for AFI Awards

    Andrew Dominik's Chopper, about one of Australia's best-known living criminals, topped the nominations for the AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards with 10 nods including best film, best director and best screenplay.The other three titles vying for best film are Looking For Alibrandi with a total of nine nominations and Better Than Sex and Bootmen with eight each. Looking For Alibrandi and Better Than Sex have also both been nominated for bes
  • Deneuve leads Chatiliez latest for TF1

    Catherine Deneuve will star in Etienne Chatiliez's next film, an as-yet-untitled project produced by France's Telema and handled worldwide by TF1 International.The film, which is to go before the camera in February 2001, is to be the French film-maker's fourth feature film, after the offbeat comedy Life Is A Long Quiet River (La Vie Est Un Long Fleuve Tranquille), Tatie Danielle and the hugely successful Happiness Is In The Field (Le Bonheur Est Dans Le Pre), which
  • Denmark's Moviefan launches London sales outfit

    Start-up Danish financing house Moviefan Scandinavia has launched a London-based sales company, Moviefan Ltd, with former Beyond Films executive Dee Emerson heading up sales.Moviefan Scandinavia co-owner, Michael Lunderskov, is managing director of the new outfit which will debut at the London Screenings and MIFED. It's initial slate includes four titles, headed by Ralph Ziman's The Zookeeper, starring Sam Neill and Gina McKee. The completed title, executive produced by Lundersk
  • Dinosaur storms into UK's number one spot

    Six months after its North American release, Dinosaur hit UK screens with a robust three-day gross of $3m (£2.1m) last weekend. Playing at 374 sites, Walt Disney Pictures' computer-animation set in a real-life background secured a healthy screen average of $8,319 (£5,690) taking the number one place in the box office chart. It officially opened the previous weekend with a platform Scottish release where it grossed $100,650 (£68,845) in seven days.The second place film Road Tr
  • DreamWorks walks from Walk The Talk

    DreamWorks SKG, which financed and co-produced Australian comedy Walk The Talk on the back of director Shirley Barrett's debut feature Love Serenade, has had a change of heart about releasing the film and is shopping domestic rights. Evidently the film's disturbing nature did not fit well into the company's TV output deals, sitting uncomfortably alongside lavish, feelgood family movies such as The Legend Of Bagger Vance, Chicken Run and The Road To El Dor
  • Escape Artists ties up international partners

    A group of international distributors comprising the UK's Momentum Pictures, Spain's Sogepaq, Italy's Eagle Pictures, Scandinavia's Egmont and Germany's Constantin have been confirmed as partners with the Steve Tisch Co and sales outfit Summit Entertainment in long-gestating production outfit Escape Artists.Some of the distributors are understood to taking equity stakes in the company and all five will have seats on the board, which will make greenlighting decisions. While the
  • Feature Film Co to test UK censors with Baise-Moi

    In a move expected to mark the most high-profile test to date of newly relaxed UK film censorship rules on sex, local indie distributor Feature Film Company has picked up all rights to controversial French rape story Baise-Moi.The explicit story of two women on a sex and murder spree after one of them is brutally raped triggered uproar in France after courts cancelled its exhibition permit. The French government reinstated an 18 certificate after film-makers protested and many c
  • Fox, Lloyd reteam on Fireworks' Interstate 60

    Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the two stars of the Back To The Future trilogy, are reteaming in supporting roles in Fireworks Pictures' coming-of-age fantasy Interstate 60 which marks the directorial debut of Back To The Future writer-producer Bob Gale. James Marsden, Gary Oldman and Amy Smart are in the lead roles of the film which is also written by Gale and produced by Back To The Future co-producer Neil Canton. Ann-Margret, Chris Cooper and Amy Jo
  • Germany picks No Place To Go for Oscars

    No Place To Go (Die Unberuehrbare) has been selected as Germany's nominee for the foreign-language Oscar. The Export Union, which picked the film from eight candidates said: "The subject of reunification has never been portrayed in German cinema as succinctly and subtly differentiated as here". Directed by Oskar Roehler, the film was produced by Distant Dreams FilmProduktion, Geyer Werke Berlin and ZDF. Distributed by Advanced it has notched admissions of over 200,000 in
  • GMI's \'Uncensored\' Cuaron picture arouses Fox

    On the eve of what promises to be a hectic two weeks of deal-making for Good Machine International (GMI) in both London and Milan, the New York sales operation, has sold the French, German, Swiss and Italian distribution rights to Alfonso Cuaron's sexually-unbridled Y Tu Mama Tambien to 20th Century Fox International.GMI, which is marketing this as the first come under its "Uncensored Cinema" banner for films that explore the theme of sexuality without inhibitions, has also sold
  • Good Machine adds some Latin Backbone

    Good Machine International has picked up Latin American rights to Guillermo del Toro's thriller The Devil's Backbone, which is currently in post-production. Other territories are sold by Wild Bunch.The film is co-produced by Pedro and Agustin Almodovar's El Deseo company with Mexico's Producciones Anhelo and Tequila Gang. Good Machine has previously represented Anhelo, having picked up international rights excluding Latin America and Spain on Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambie
  • Good Machine plays hard to get

    Good Machine is once again being courted by several corporate suitors interested in marrying up with the decade-old New York production and sales operation that is currently enjoying its most successful year yet. So far, however, Good Machine's three partners are resisting that final walk down the wedding aisle. "There have been a substantial number of companies that have actively engaged us in discussions," confirmed Good Machine co-founder James Schamus. "But, in all honesty, I can s
  • Hannover Leasing throws $150m into Rings trilogy

    Munich-based leasing company Hannover Leasing (HL) has established a $150m (DM350.5m) fund to finance the third installment in New Line Cinema's $270m The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Return Of The King, which Peter Jackson is directing.Private German individuals looking for a way to reduce their tax burden in the last months of the financial year are invited to invest a minimum of $43,000 (DM100,000) in the fund with 56.4% of the investment being provided by a trustee
  • Hart, McElhone join Killing Me Softly cast

    UK actors Ian Hart and Natascha McElhone have joined the cast of Chen Kaige's first English-language project Killing Me Softly, currently gearing up to shoot from the end of October for eleven weeks in the UK. Festen's Ulrich Thomsen has also been confirmed for the film, which stars Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes. An erotic thriller, Killing Me Softly tells the story of an American woman living in London (Graham) who leaves her safe, loving boyfriend for a myste
  • Help! I'm A Fish sinks competition in Denmark

    Danish animation Help! I Am A Fish is currently storming the Danish box office, sinking local competitor Dancer In the Dark. Just two weeks after its release Help! I Am A Fish has achieved admissions of 177,243 and a gross of $915,945 (DKR8,101,536) from 60 screens. In comparison Lars von Triar's Dancer In The Dark has grossed $885,020 (DKR7,827,999) - the equivalent of 151,904 admissions - after six weeks. According to distributor Nordisk, much of the anima
  • IAC, Bregman head for Goldcoast with Pacino

    The UK's IAC Films is set to handle $65m drama The Goldcoast, starring Al Pacino, through a development and production venture with US producer Martin Bregman.The adaptation of a novel by Nelson Demille is to be directed by Harold Becker next summer in New York. Bregman's credits include Pluto Nash, The Bone Collector and Serpico.The producer's pact with IAC covers two operations, one to focus on Bregman's own projects, the second to handle films from
  • IFC Films gets Together for first acquisition

    The Brotherhood Of Wolves, backed by StudioCanal, has attracted a strong 1.5 million admissions in its first five days in France, but the $29m (FFr200m) title has yet to top records set by other domestic films such as Taxi 2 and Asterix Et Obelix Contre Cesar.The Christophe Gans-directed title, which stars Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, bolted out of the starting blocks on January 31, topping the French charts with 301,694 admissions on its op
  • Indian film sector wins industry status

    India's information and broadcasting minister, Sushma Swaraj, plans to grant the Indian film sector with "industry" status, thus enabling it to receive loans from banks and financial institutions. Indian films can now also be insured, as is the practice in the west. The move is part of the on-going corporatisation of the Indian film industry which is increasingly turning to the capital markets for financing. Following Swaraj's announcement, a rash of Indian film companies are expected
  • Intermedia puts Heaven into expanding line-up

    Intermedia has added Jeroen Krabbe's new picture The Discovery Of Heaven to its already expanding London and MIFED line-up.The picture is only the second as director by Krabbe, who scored highly with Left Luggage (Twee Koffers Vol). A supernatural drama, Heaven stars Gillian Barge, Timothy Bateson, Nicholas Farrell and Emma Fielding. Stephen Fry, Diana Quick, Greg Wise and Krabbe himself also make appearances. The English-language picture was adapted by Harry Mulis

    AB INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTIONAlso buying:Executives attending:Deputy managing director Frederik RangeInternational sales manager Valerie VleeschhouwerMarketing manager Nathalie Aymard132 ave du President Wilson, La Plaine, Saint Denis, 93213, France, tel: (33) 1 49 22 20 01 fax: (33) 1 49 22 22 16 e-mail: ventes@groupe-ab.frAKA MOVIESMarket address: Le Meridien Hotel, 21 PiccadillyE
  • Mancini appointed Cinecitta general director

    Italy's Cinecitta Studios has named Lamberto Mancini as its new general director, replacing Antonio More who had held the position for more than ten years.Mancini, 40, worked in business and marketing before becoming deputy general director of the Italian studio in June 1999. The appointment was voted in by Cinecitta Studios' board of directors, which is chaired by president Luigi Abete. More, who has been general director since 1989, becomes vice president.Cinecitta has increas
  • MDP, Crystal Sky spread

    Mark Damon's MDP Worldwide and Steven Paul's Crystal Sky have teamed up to handle the worldwide distribution of two new films - to be directed by William Malone (House On Haunted Hill) and sports action thriller The Extremists to be directed by Christian Duguay (The Art Of War). The deals follow the previous joint selling effort by MDP and Crystal Sky on D'Artagnan which stars Tim Roth, Mena Suvari and Catherine Deneuve.All three are c
  • Mechanic named as Berlin jury president

    Former 20th Century Fox chairman and CEO Bill Mechanic will preside over the jury at the next Berlin Film Festival, to be held February 7-18, 2001.Festival chief Moritz de Hadeln, who hands over to Dieter Kosslick after next year's event, described Mechanic as "a staunch supporter of the festival during his tenure at Disney and Fox".Mechanic, who in recent years has premiered Fox titles such as The Thin Red Line and The Beach at Berlin, said he was "honoured to ser
  • Media Vision takes Oz comedy quartet

    LA-based sales outfit Media Vision has picked up four "edgy mainstream comedies" which are being produced by Australia's Lance Peters and US producer Marina Martins under the joint production banner Cop-Outs Production. Peters has written all four projects which will shoot in Australia. LA-based Australian expat Marina Rose will co-produce. Media Vision's John Rodsett will executive produce.First out of the blocks will be the fantasy horror comedy The Widower, to be direc
  • Menemsha picks up Captain Pantoja

    Los Angeles-based Menemsha Entertainment has picked up worldwide rights to Peruvian hit Captain Pantoja And The Special Services (Pantaleon Y Las Visitadores), directed by Francisco Lombardi. The erotic comedy has attracted more than one million admissions in Peru, an impressive tally in a country that boasts an estimated 132 screens at best. The title also made a sweep of Brazil's Gramado Film Festival this year, reaping all the major awards, including Best Picture. Wri
  • Mothman flies at Screen Gems

    Screen Gems, the mid-budget releasing division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, has acquired all North American rights to Lakeshore Entertainment's psychological thriller The Mothman Prophecies which is set to start shooting in Jan 2001. Richard Gere will star and Mark Pellington (Arlington Road) will direct. The film is based on a true story about a journalist (Gere) investigating a bizarre series of supernatural events in a small country town. Producers are Tom Rosenberg
  • Myriad listens to Rash's Good Advice

    Myriad Pictures has added $6m comedy Good Advice, directed by Steve Rash, to its sales roster. The film, which stars Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards and Rosanna Arquette, will be distributed by Artisan Entertainment in the US. With the title currently in post-production, Myriad is screening a promo in London and Milan. The film follows a womanising investment banker who has lost everything, poses as his ex-girlfriend and becomes the toast of New York as a local newspaper's sensit
  • Neeson replaces Gianopulos as Fox Int'l chief

    Scott Neeson, former executive vice president of international marketing at 20th Century Fox, has been appointed president of 20th Century Fox International Theatrical, taking over from his former boss Jim Gianopulos who was upped to chairman of the studio last month.He will oversee the international theatrical marketing and distribution of all Fox films together with those distributed by Fox on behalf of Lucasfilm, MGM and Intertainment as well as acquired and co-produced projects.
  • New World, Nordisk among buyers for 51st State

    New World Films in Spain, Nordisk in Scandinavia and Les Films De L'Elysee in Benelux are among the buyers which have committed to Alliance Atlantis Pictures International's $25m action comedy The 51st State starring Samuel L Jackson. Momentum Pictures has UK rights and Kinowelt has German rights. Other buyers which have taken the film include Distant Horizon in South Africa, Spring Cinema in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, Shaw Renters in Singapore, Myndform in Iceland and Forum F
  • ONdigital postpones float; doubles subscribers

    UK digital terrestrial broadcaster ONdigital has reportedly postponed its planned flotation until next spring, due to unfavourable market conditions and parent company Granada Media's recent share slide.Granada and Carlton Communications, the two ITV companies that each own 50% of ONdigital, had been expected to sell about 20% of the pay-TV platform before the end of the year. The sale had already been put on hold earlier this year when Granada and Carlton were locked in battle over co
  • Oz's Pinefilm in line for cash boost

    Australian distributor Pinefilm Entertainment is in the final stages of negotiations to merge with an unnamed public company, in a move that will provide it with considerable new cash resources for film acquisitions. Pinefilm managing director Sean Rothsey confirmed the talks but said a non-disclosure agreement prevents him from naming the company, which is currently not involved in entertainment.The Rothsey Family Trust, through an intermediary, will become the largest single s
  • Parents holds off Bedazzled, Pay It Forward

    Neither 20th Century Fox's comedy Bedazzled nor Warner Bros' Pay It Forward could unseat Universal's Meet The Parents from the top slot at the domestic box office. The popular Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro fell just 23% in its third weekend to take $16.3m and bring its total to $81m - assuring its place in the $100m club and possibly as the biggest comedy of the year.Bedazzled, which was originally scheduled to open in the summer, opened to a strong $13.7m on 2
  • Pathe, Amuse lured by Killing

    Myriad Pictures has sold Chen Kaige's $30m Killing Me Softly to Pathe Distribution for the UK and Amuse Video for Japan. Gaga Communications will handle the film's Japanese theatrical release.Starting principal photography on October 30th in London, the erotic thriller stars Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes, with Natascha McElhone and Ian Hart co-starring. Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock's Montecito Pictures are producing.The story follows an American advertising executive
  • Quixote struggles against collapse

    Producers in Spain are fighting to keep Terry Gilliam's new film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote alive after shooting stalled last week when 70 year-old lead actor Jean Rochefort suffered a double disk hernia. Sources close to the production say that shooting can't resume until at least January, which might make it unfeasible for the large international cast and crew to reassemble. Meanwhile the completion bond company is expected to make a decision on the fate of the film by the
  • Renaissance adds Gilliam, Hytner projects to slate

    Terry Gilliam has for the second time this year secured financing out of Europe for a large-scale production, partnering with the UK's Renaissance Films to direct $50m comic fantasy Good Omens. Renaissance has also announced that it will handle Los Alamos, a $25m romantic thriller to be directed by Nicholas Hytner.The Gilliam picture is being adapted by the director and Tony Grisoni from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's best-selling book. UK and US-based Marc and Peter S
  • Risk

    Dir: Alan White. Australia. 2000. 92 mins.Prod co: MacGowan Films. Int'l sales: Beyond Films (61-2) 9281 1266. Exec prod: Marion Pilowsky. Prod: Marion MacGowan. Scr: John Armstrong, Steve Wright, based on the short story "The Adjuster" by Tracy Kidder. DoP: Simon Duggan. Prod des: Murray Picknett. Ed: Lee Smith. Mus: Don Miler-Robinson. Main cast: Bryan Brown, Tom Long, Claudia Karvan.Risk does for the insurance industry what Wall Street did for Wall Stre
  • Sky Perfect tumbles 20% on market debut

    Sky Perfect Communications, which operates the Sky PerfecTV communications satellite (CS) platform, made a disappointing debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's MOTHERS market for venture firms on Friday.On the first day of trading, October 20, Sky Perfect shares fell 20% from their pre-market price of $2.962 (Y320,000) to $2.083 (Y255,000) - the maximum allowed under market rules. Investors were jittery about the company's inability to turn a profit in six years of operation and it
  • Sony to distribute Hindi movies worldwide

    Sony's Indian channel, Sony Entertainment Television (SET), is moving into international theatrical distribution of Hindi films, starting with Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir which opens in the UK on October 26.The film, which features Indian star Hrithik Roshan, opens in the US the following day, before rolling out to six other European territories, including France and Germany, and Middle Eastern territories, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
  • Spain's Ono postpones flotation

    Following an international trend, Spanish cable supplier Ono (Cableuropa) has announced that it will postpone its IPO, planned for Thursday, due to the "poor conditions" of stock markets globally.Ono planned to float at least 20% of its shares on the recently launched "New Market" index of the Spanish stock exchange, La Bolsa. The company was reportedly valued at more than $1.6bn (PTS300,000m).In a statement released by the firm, CEO Richard Alden assured that Ono would "return
  • Suspicious River

    Dir: Lynne Stopkewich. Canada. 2000. 92 mins.Prod co: Tartan Films/Okulitch Pedersen. Int'l sales: Beyond Films (61-2) 9281 1266. Exec prods: Hamish McAlpine, Erik Stensrud. Prod: Michael Okulitch. Scr: Stopkewich, based on the novel by Laura Kasischke. DoP: Gregory Middleton. Prod des: Don MacAulay. Ed: Allan Lee. Mus: Don MacDonald. Main cast: Molly Parker, Callum Keith Rennie, Mary Kate Welsh, Joel Bissonnette.Lynne Stopkewich's follow-up to her well-regarded debut,
  • SW9 kickstarts Alibi, Irish Screen pact

    SW9, UK production outfit Fruit Salad Films' follow-up to rave culture hit Human Traffic, will kick off an exclusive partnership between sales outfit Alibi Films International and financing operation Irish Screen.Alibi, which has announced that it will handle worldwide sales on all upcoming Irish Screen features, will use London and Milan to screen a promo of the urban drama. Named after the post-code for its setting of Brixton, south London, SW9 is currently in po
  • TMC taps Giovalli to lure youth audience

    Italian publishing giant Seat has appointed Roberto Giovalli as Telemontecarlo's (TMC's) new chief of programming, as part of its drive to target the youth market and rake a healthy portion of the TV advertising market.Giovalli, who takes up the post on November 1, is currently director of Mediaset's youth-orientated channel, Italia 1. He was also previously director of programming and vice president of pay-TV company Telepiu."The choice of Giovalli is part of Seat's project of
  • UIP, MBS kickstart joint training programme

    UIP and the pan-European Media Business School (MBS) kicked off the inaugural edition of their joint training initiative in Seville, Spain on Tuesday, describing it as the "first international marketing and distribution training programme given by practitioners and for practitioners."MBS director Juan Pita, UIP president and COO Andrew Cripps and course director Jill Tandy, former head of legal and business affairs at PolyGram, welcomed 16 participants from across Europe for the first
  • UIP, UGC resolve legal battle over UK rental terms

    The legal battle between distributor UIP (UK) and UGC's UK circuit has been resolved three months after it began. Since the release of Mission: Impossible 2 in July, both companies have been at loggerheads over the terms agreed for tickets sold through the use of UGC's loyalty pass. UIP and UGC have now announced that the issue has been resolved, although no details are available.After UGC issued a writ against UIP in July, the exhibitor did not screen any of UIP's new releases
  • UK Govt waves through Pinewood-Shepperton merger

    The UK government has cleared the merger of the Pinewood and Shepperton filmmaking facilities, a decision that spares the proposed $180m super-studio from having to be scrutinised by the local anti-trust watchdog, the Competition Commission.The proposal was waved through on Tuesday evening by Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Stephen Byers as "the acquisition by Pinewood Studios Holdings of Shepperton Holdings." However, Pinewood Studios chairman Michael Grade has stressed that
  • USA Films to co-finance Zentropa horrors

    USA Films is taking North American rights to a slew of horror pictures from Denmark's Zentropa, in return for stumping up 35% of the slate's combined budget. Produced by the Danish company's international arm, Zentropa Internationale, the films will be labelled Zentropa Zhillers, and range in budget from $3.5m to $10m. UK financing house Visionview is supplying a further 25%. Zentropa-owned Trust Film Sales will sell the films internationally. 'We're not going to make teenage sl
  • Via Digital, ICO ink co-financing pact

    Spain's national credit institute (ICO) has signed an agreement with digital satellite platform Via Digital and the Spanish producers federation (FAPAE) whereby ICO will make available up to $18m worth of credits for film and TV product to which the Telefonica-backed Via acquires rights.According to the terms of the agreement, which runs through 2002, ICO and Via commit to jointly funding film and TV projects from producers associated with FAPAE (which includes nearly all producers in
  • Victory Media to finance EM.TV internet venture

    Private German film fund Victory Media plans to co-finance EM.TV & Merchandising's proposed internet platform Junior Web through its 16th MultiMediaFonds.The fund, which plans to raise the necessary capital from private individual investors by mid-December, will channel about $29m (DM66m) into the web-site and about $25m (DM57) into co-producing nine animated TV series from EM.TV's Junior stable.In addition, Victory is stumping up around $44m (DM100m) to be a 50% partner with It
  • Winchester reteams with Wind Dancer on actioner

    Winchester Entertainment has extended its relationship with US production outfit Wind Dancer Films to co-produce The Untitled Blake Masters Project, a "character-driven action film" to be produced and directed by Wind Dancer's Matt Williams. Williams made his directorial debut on Where The Heart Is, released domestically earlier this year by 20th Century Fox and starring Nathalie Portman and Ashley Judd.The two are already co-developing Harv The Barbarian, a pre-hi
  • Wright takes up acting head role at The Sales Co

    Jane Wright, head of business development for BBC Films, is stepping in as acting chief executive at UK-based The Sales Co following Alison Thompson's decision to move to Pathe International.Wright, who has been a director of the company for two years, will join The Film Consortium chief executive Chris Auty, who becomes chairman of The Sales Co. The moves come as the operation is riding high in terms of sales with a raft of brisk sellers including Liam, When Brendan Met Trud