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24 June 2002

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  • Alan Parker rallies industry to develop skills strategy

    Alan Parker, chairman of UK support body, the Film Council, has called on the film industry to support a major research project that will inform a new and comprehensive skills strategy for the sector.Parker, whose role at the Film Council reflects his support for skills and training in the industry, urged employers, industry bodies and educational institutions to recognise the importance of the research and participate fully."Training is vital to every part of the UK film indust
  • Anant Singh snaps up Deepak Chopra film rights

    South African producer Anant Singh, head of Videovision and Distant Horizon, has snapped up the much sought-after film rights to 'mind-body-spirit' guru Deepak Chopra's fictional works The Return Of Merlin and Soulmate. The deal was negotiated and concluded during Chopra's visit to South Africa last week. The rights to The Return Of Merlin were originally controlled by Peter Guber (Batman, Batman Returns) of Columbia Pictures."The Return Of Merlin and
  • Another German media company files for insolvency

    German production outfit H5B5 Media, which co-produced Cannes film Welcome To Collinwood, has become the latest in the growing list of German media companies filing for insolvency.In a statement, the company said that an ongoing production for children's animation specialist RTV had encountered cash flow problems. In addition, a Euros 3.9m commission of a 26-part 3D computer-animated children's series for Hamburg-based United Stardust (USD) had been cancelled after investors ren
  • Austin, Gladstone promoted in business & legal affairs at Artisan

    Erin Austin has been promoted to executive vice president, business and legal affairs, and Jim Gladstone has been promoted to senior vice president, business and legal affairs, at Artisan Entertainment.Austin is charged with overseeing the company's business and legal affairs for acquisition and production of theatrical, home entertainment and TV product. She was previously senior vice president. In her new capacity, she will increase her responsibilities in line with Artisan's corpora
  • Australia's Southern Star predicts debt eradication

    Australia's Southern Star Group this week announced that it will be debt free with $12.5m (A$22m) in cash when net proceeds of $35.9m (A$63m) from last year's sale of duplication subsidiary Duplitek to Technicolor are received next month.The company also revealed that revenue for the 12 months to March was up 11% to $127m (A$223m) and pre-tax profit was up 12% to $5.07m (A$8.9m), reflecting improvements all areas of the business and lower central costs. Southern Star no longer a
  • Avex enters adult animation market

    Leading Japanese music company Avex, is launching into the animation business with a major new project that it expects will generate international sales of $806m (Y100bn) by 2003.The company is setting up a new subsidiary, Avex Mode to work with best selling author Yoshimi Ishikawa on the project, Son Goku no Boken (Son Goku's Adventure), an animation about a monkey with magical transformative powers. The story is based loosely on a well-known Chinese folk tale that also served
  • Beckham scores in Sydney

    Bend It Like Beckham won the Euros 15,000 Prix UIP for best European film on Friday 21 June at Sydney Film Festival closing night and was voted the most popular film by audiences at one of the event's two venues. Another UK film, Paul Greengrass's Bloody Sunday, was voted best film at the other venue."I am absolutely thrilled and delighted," said director, producer and co-writer Gurinder Chadha, who was a guest of the festival. "Sydney is the first festival Bend It Lik
  • Blueprint for ottfilm/Telepool distribution deal

    German theatrical distributor ottfilm and Munich-based Telepool have concluded a three-year first look deal for the international distribution of feature films.The first title under the arrangement will be Rolf Schuebel's Euros 4.5m Blueprint, starring Franka Potente (Run Lola Run), Sebastian Koch (Amen) and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason (101 Reykjavik), which begins shooting on July 9 for Relevant Film in co-production with Studio Hamburg and broadcasters WDR and A
  • Cat bags Spain's top Cinema Jove prize

    Korean director Jeong Jae-Eun took home the top Valencian Moon award Saturday from Spain's youth-oriented Cinema Jove International Film Festival (June15-22) for his debut feature film, Take Care Of My Cat (Go Yang I Rul Boo Tak Hae). The tale of five childhood friends grappling with young adulthood walked away with the award and Euros 18,000, beating out nine other feature films from directors under the age of 35 around the world. Special mentions went to Christian Zubert's
  • Chapman honoured for contribution to OZ film

    Australian producer Jan Chapman will be awarded this year's prestigious Chauvel Award for her outstanding contribution to local filmmaking. The award will be presented as part of the Brisbane International Film Festival, which begins on July 9. "Her commitment to producing exceptional Australian drama has long been acknowledged in the Australian film and television industry and she is revered as one of Australia's most talent producers today," said Brisbane City Councillor David Hinchl
  • Chinese drama scoops three awards at Shanghai festival

    Life Show, a drama directed by China's Huo Jianqi, scooped three awards at the sixth Shanghai International Film Festival (June 8-16) on Sunday night, including best film, best actress for Tao Hong's performance and best cinematography for Sun Ming.Japanese feature, All About Lily Chou Chou, picked up the Special Jury Award and the award for best music which went to Takeshi Kobayashi. The film, directed by Iwai Shunji, has already had wide festival exposure, screening at
  • Cinema Expo highlights importance of local product

    Media Salles' Focus On Europe seminar at the Cine Expo exhibition conference in Amsterdam today, highlighted the importance of local films in creating sustainable box office growth across European territories.Total admissions in Europe's 11 main cinema markets have risen by 41.76% from 1992, according to Media Salles' data. Significantly, European films accounted for 20% of this growth.Not only do successful local films help buoy circuits outside of the key US summer release se
  • Credit line saves RTV Family Entertainment

    Animation production house RTV Family Entertainment has moved out of temporary insolvency after receiving a bridging credit line from its bank syndicate backed by a letter of credit from majority shareholder Ravernsburger AG. This step restores RTV to full financial solvency, but additional cash funds of Euros 4m will be needed up to the end of 2002.In a statement, RTV noted that Ravensburger was prepared to close this additional gap "dependent on further successes in the restru
  • Dear Fidel (Lieber Fidel - Maritas Geschichte)

    Dir. Wilfried Huismann. Germany. 2000. 92mins. The story that unfolds in Wilfried Huismann's documentary Dear Fidel is so unexpected and off-kilter that it can be watched in the same fashion as a car crash: with a mute, horrified slow-motion fascination. About a woman who claims to be the lover of Cuban leader Fidel Castro returning to the island, the film displays little commercial promise; but due to its very strangeness, it may find a niche with specialised arthouse
  • Dobson gets senior vp stripes at Warner Theatres

    London-based Peter Dobson has been promoted to senior vice president, international film relations, at Warner Bros International Theatres (WBIT) from his previous position as vice president. Reporting to WBIT president Millard Ochs, Dobson will have full responsibility for overseeing the company's film buying, booking and strategic planning throughout Europe and Asia.He will also oversee all competitive issues and dealings with international distributors as the company moves into China
  • Empire, First Run team for US rights to Chabrol's Chocolat

    Empire Pictures and First Run Features have pacted to buy US rights to Claude Chabrol's popular thriller Merci Pour Le Chocolat which premiered at the Venice Film Festival two years ago and won the Prix Louis Delluc in 2001.Empire will oversee the film's theatrical release this summer and First Run will handle the home video release in spring 2003. The deal was negotiated by First Run president Seymour Wishman on behalf of the partnership with Florence Stern of sales agent MK2.
  • Endeavour finishes photography on biggest budget Russian picture since 1998

    Major photography has just finished on new English language co-production, The St Petersburg Cannes Express, the biggest budget production to shoot in Russia since the 1998 financial crisis and the first in a slated series of new Russian projects being developed by Los Angeles-based Endeavour Productions. Directed and scripted by John Daly, the co-founder of UK production outfit Hemdale, the film is being backed by Parallel Films (UK), Contact Media Fund (Germany) and PCE Produc
  • Europeans proving faithful to Gere thriller

    20th Century Fox's adult thriller Unfaithful is enjoying success as counter-programming to the chart storming blockbuster fare, Spider-Man and Star Wars: Episode II.Aimed at a more mature audience the film has enjoyed a host of strong openings and performances in Europe since debuting in Sweden on May 31. With an international tally of $12.8m to date to add to its $50.5m and counting US gross, and with a host of territories to go, Unfaithful looks to be one
  • Finnish cinema operator to build 14-screen site in Latvia

    The Finnish multiplex operator Finnkino OY and local department store group Stockmann will invest $39m in a cinema and retail complex in the Latvian capital of Riga. Stockmann is providing $23m, while Finnkino will contribute $16.2m to the project.The six-storey building to be completed in the autumn of 2003, will house 14 screens with 3,000 seats to be operated by Baltic Cinema SIA, a subsidiary of Finnkino. The department store will cover an area of 11000 square metres and include re
  • Fox South Africa switches from Ster Kinekor to Nu Metro

    After 37 years distributing its product theatrically through Ster Kinekor in South Africa, 20th Century Fox is transferring its theatrical business to rival distributor/exhibitor Nu Metro from the 1 August 2002. Nu Metro has handled the video distribution of Fox product since 1994 and the decision is seen as a move by the Studio to consolidate its Home Entertainment and Theatrical business under one distributor. Michelle Hemphill, 20th Century Fox South Africa's representative s
  • Gaia's new Golden Prize goes to Heaven

    The newly-launched Gaia International Film Festival of Portugal closed its first annual edition Saturday night (june 22) with the awarding of its non-monetary Golden Prize for Best Film to Tom Tykwer's Heaven. Guillermo del Toro won the festival's Silver Prize for The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo Del Diablo) and the Bronze Prize was shared by Ray Lawrence for Lantana and Juan Jose Campanella for The Son Of The Bride (El Hijo De La Novia). Gaia, which
  • German broadcaster RTL joins film funding institution

    German private broadcaster RTL is to become a shareholder in regional public fund Filmstiftung NRW on July 1, contributing some $2.9m to the overall $28.5m annual budget. On the eve of this year's Medienforum NRW, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia's prime-minister Wolfgang Clement, RTL's managing director Gerhard Zeiler and Filmstiftung NRW CEO Michael Schmid-Ospach signed an agreement which will see RTL's divisional head for fiction Peter Weckert join Filmstiftung's funding committe
  • German Camera Awards announced

    Directors of photography Peter Nix (Wie Feuer Und Flamme) and Hans-Guenther Buecking (Der Tanz Mit Dem Teufel) were among the prize-winners at this year's German Camera Awards in Cologne, which also included an Honorary Award for veteran cinematographer Juergen Juerges.Other Awards went to Matthias Fleischer for the short Der Kuscheldoktor, Joseph McCarthy for Attacke WTC 11.09.01, Peter Moers for Die Baustelle Des Herrn, and to Juergen Eichinger for
  • German production community faces 90% reduction

    The German production community is facing a crisis which could see the numbers of film and TV producers decimated by the end of next year, according to Stefan Arndt of X-Filme Creative Pool.Speaking at a discussion during Cologne's Medienforum on the future structure of the new German Film Law (FFG), Arndt declared that the Kirch crisis, the controversy about the new copyright legislation and the Media Decree could see the 1,000-odd producers in Germany reduced to 100-150 in the next 1
  • Germany, Luxembourg sign co-production treaty

    Co-productions between film producers in Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg were given a boost this week after the signing of a formal co-production treaty between the two countries.Co-productions made under the auspices of the new treaty will be regarded as national films in both states and therefore enjoy all of the incentives provided for local film productions. German culture minister, Julian Nida-Ruemelin, said that in recent years Luxembourg had become an "interesti
  • Germany's TiME Group confronts insolvency

    Germany's TiMe Group has filed for protection from creditors two months after it was forced to dramatically scale back distribution and licence trading arm TiMe Medienvertriebs. Although TiMe founder Wolfram Tichy described the filing as "a legally imperative precautionary measure," the likelihood of TiMe joining Germany's growing list of high-profile media casualties looks high. "Unfortunately, one cannot assume in the light of the present drought in the media landscape that he
  • Germany's TiME Group confronts insolvency

  • Hamill, Struthers star in Pied Piper's thriller Constricted

    Mark Hammill and Sally Struthers have taken the lead roles in independently financed psychological thriller Constricted which started shooting yesterday in the US. The film, being produced by Pied Piper Productions' Holly Mosher, is written and directed by Christian Otien (Lady In The Box). It also stars Brad Hunt, Majandra Delfino, Brian Wimmer, Angela Featherstone and Missy Crider.Constricted is the story of a 36 year-old man who returns to his mid-west hometown
  • Hong Kong's FilMart to be biggest event yet

    The sixth Hong Kong International Film and Television Market (FilMart) is set to be the biggest yet, with a 23% increase in the number of pre-registered buyers to 1,400, according to organisers, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC).Exhibitor numbers for the three-day event, which kicks off Wednesday (June 26), have also swelled by 45% to 190 from 20 territories.China and Hong Kong continue to dominate the ranks of sellers with 32 and 31 companies respectively. However,
  • IEG pumps fresh blood into Jordan's $55m Borgia epic

    Neil Jordan's European epic Borgia is back on its feet after partnering with Graham King's Initial Entertainment Group.The $55m production is set to star Ewan McGregor, Christina Ricci, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Antonio Banderas and John Malkovich. Initial will handle world sales, with 20th Century Fox retaining North American rights.The story of the notorious Renaissance family hit trouble a week ago when it emerged that sales agent Myriad Pictures and producer Stephen Wo
  • India's film industry counts the cost of Bolly-flops

    Bollywood is facing a serious downturn this year, after a string of high-profile flops and not a single local box office success in the first six months of 2002. Inspired by 2001's hits including Lagaan and Gadar, a number of period films were launched this year. The two big features on Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh including Raj Kumar Santoshi's The Legend Of Bhagat Singh and Guddu Dhanoa's 23rd March 1931 Shaheed failed to generate any significant int
  • Irish government's new film policy considered out of place

    Ireland is struggling to retain its attraction as a location for film producers thanks to increasing labour and service costs, growing competition from cheaper foreign locations and now, a new government arts department that seems oddly unenthusiastic about film.Although the country's 2002 production tally looks healthy enough - seven feature starts in the first five months alone - all are either TV movies such as The Roman Spring Of Mrs Stone with Helen Mirren for Showtime, or
  • Italia Cinema appoints new president

    Marina Cicogna has been appointed president of Italia Cinema, Italy's film promotional body. Cicogna is the granddaughter of Count Volpi, the founder of the Venice Film Festival in 1932. After studying film, theatre and literature in the US, she worked in film production and distribution in Italy, producing several films in the 1960s and 1970s, including Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea and Vittorio De Sica's Una Breve Vacanza. She also briefly worked for Paramount.Cico
  • Italy's Giffoni film festival to welcome Streep, Makhmalbaf

    Meryl Streep and Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf will be among the guests at this year's Giffoni Film Festival, one of the premier festivals dedicated to youth-oriented cinema and the only one whose jury is entirely composed of international school children.Artistic director Claudio Gubitosi, who founded the festival 32 years ago, also unveiled the first titles in the event's competition line-up: these include Abandoned, Hungarian director Árpád Sopsits's drama whi
  • Japon

    Dir: Carlos Reygadas. Mexico-Spain. 2002. 122 mins. Carlos Reygadas's visionary and impressive feature debut announces the director as an exciting new talent. It is also highly uncompromising: Reygadas states that he's interested in film as a way of creating sensations rather than of making a statement or telling a story, and Japon's stately pace and wilfully enigmatic story (even the title is unexplained) will divide critics and limit its audience. Entrepreneurial art
  • Jeremy Thomas reveals cast of Bertolucci's Dreamers

    Michael Pitt, Eva Green and Louis Garrel will star in Bernardo Bertolucci's next film, The Dreamers, producer Jeremy Thomas announced on Wednesday.Newcomers Green and Garrel play a brother and sister in Paris in 1968 who invite a young American played by Pitt to stay. Set against the turbulent political backdrop of France in spring 1968, they experiment each other's emotions and sexuality.'It's an intimate and intriguing story of relationships,' said Bertolucci. 'We've c
  • Karlovy Vary reveals full competition line-up

    Sean Connery will visit the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary for its 37th annual film festival this year (July 4-13), where he will receive an award for outstanding contribution to world cinema. Connery will be in the Czech Republic for the upcoming shoot of Fox's League Of Extraordinary Gentleman starting in July. The festival also announced Wednesday the full list of 18 films in the main competition this year. Year of the Devil from the Czech Republic, directed by Petr Ze
  • Lolafilms' refinancing deadline extended to mid-July

    The deadline for shareholders to participate in the Euros 18m capital amplification of Spanish production powerhouse Lolafilms has been pushed back until mid-July. The amplification of capital was approved on March 22 by Lola shareholders, led by 70% backer Admira, the media unit of Telefonica, and Lola CEO Andres Vicente Gomez, who owns the bulk of the remaining 30%. According to unconfirmed reports, Gomez recently acquired a further 7% stake from Lolafilms board member Manuel Lombard
  • Mexico City exhibitor Cinemex sold to Onex Corp and Oaktree

    Onex Corp of Toronto and Los Angeles-based investment firm Oaktree Capital Management have acquired top Mexico City exhibitor Grupo Cinemex for approximately $295m. Cinemex co founder Matthew Heyman, who was closely involved in the transaction, has resigned from his post as co-chief executive officer. "I have reached a point in my life where I would like to seek new and different opportunities with respect to my career and investments, " said Heyman in a statement. "The sale of Cin
  • Minority Report

    Dir: Steven Spielberg. US. 2002. 145 minsThe work of the late Philip K Dick has been a fertile source for films since Ridley Scott's Blade Runner in 1982. The latest gloomy futuristic vision, from a 1956 Dick short story, is Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, which takes themes from Blade Runner, Total Recall and especially the little seen Gary Fleder-directed Impostor and stirs them up into an absorbing thriller. The end result manages to
  • Myriad options Cannell bestseller Riding The Snake

    Myriad Pictures has optioned the film rights to Stephen J Cannell's best-selling novel Riding The Snake, a conspiracy thriller set in the world of Chinese organized crime. The film will be produced by Kirk D'Amico, president of Myriad Pictures, alongside Doug Rosen, vice president of production at Cannell Studios, Lucas Foster, president of production at Myriad, and Cannell, who will also write the screenplay.Cannell is best-known as a pioneering TV writer/producer with credits
  • National Amusements becomes first Int'l exhibitor in Russia

    National Amusements has announced plans to build Russia's largest cinema, an 11-screen multiplex in Moscow, making it the first major international exhibitor to venture into the Russian market.Called Kinostar, the new complex will be built and operated by Rising Star Media, a new joint venture set up by National Amusements and Paul Heth one of the founders of the Kodak Kino Mir, which was Russia's first Western style cinema.Kinostar which is slated to open in spring 2003 is the
  • National general strike won't cripple Spain's film industry

    Despite a call by the Spanish Actors' Guild to support a nationwide general workers' strike planned for Thursday, June 20, the film industry will not come to a full stop.Several film production companies contacted said they would not halt work on films currently shooting or rehearsing in Spain. A spokesperson for the Spanish Producers' Federation says the organisation has no indication of other guilds or professional groups striking within the sector.However, as sources at produ
  • Off-screen drama at Czech TV station

    The fate of Czech private television station TV Nova, is once again in doubt, as an ongoing off-screen drama took another unexpected twist with the attempted removal of CEO Vladimir Zelezny According to reports, Zelezny has apparently been sacked by his former allies in his ongoing battle with original Nova investor Central European Media Enterprises (CME). Ales Rozehnal, an executive of Nova's license holder CET-21 and former right-hand man of Zelezny's, announced last week tha
  • Perrine Teze to head Miramax/TF1 French distribution arm

    Perrine Teze, currently managing director of TF1's film financing and sales division TF1 International, is expected to be appointed managing director of the Miramax/TF1 joint French distribution venture.Teze, who came to TF1 from the Bouygues group (the broadcaster's main shareholder) to launch TF1 International's film co-financing and sales division, was instrumental in building the outfit into a major player on the international film scene.Along with head of European co-produc
  • Photo finish for Minority Report and Lilo & Stitch

    In a photo finish race at the North American box office, 20th Century Fox's epic futuristic thriller Minority Report directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise topped the chart with an estimated $36.9m, just $1m ahead of Buena Vista's animated comedy Lilo & Stitch which took $35.8m. Whether those positions hold will be seen when the official figures are released later today. Throughout the weekend, Lilo & Stitch was tracking ahead of Minority Report and,
  • Photo finish for Minority Report and Lilo & Stitch

  • Polish media giant prepares major floatation

    Polish media giant ITI Holdings S.A. is to launch an initial public offering of up to 48% of its shares, making it the biggest float on the Warsaw market for two years.The company revealed last month that it was planning to raise between $80m and $130m through the IPO to finance its acquisition of Luxembourg-based SBS Broadcasting's 33% stake in Polish TV station TVN for $150m in cash and SBS ordinary shares.Poland's third-biggest broadcaster, TVN had a 20.4% share of local TV a
  • Publishers Springer and Bauer join KirchMedia bidders

    German publishing empires Axel Springer Verlag and Heinrich Bauer Verlag have set up a consortium to acquire at least 51% of insolvent KirchMedia when it emerges from restructuring.This latest development comes just two days after the WAZ publishing group withdrew from the consortium including the Commerzbank and Sony's Columbia TriStar which was preparing a bid for KirchMedia.The 50/50 alliance between Springer and Bauer indicated that agreement had been reached on accepting o
  • Scala boards dialogue-free debut feature

    The UK's Scala Productions has boarded Wounded, a dialogue-free feature from new UK production outfit Kaos Films.A contemporary thriller set in the wilds of North America, the film is produced by Arif Hussein and Piers Jackson, who was previously head of development and production at Screen Production Associates. "Basically, two guys go fishing," says Hussein. "One is killed and the other survives."Scala will co-produce the film, expected to start shooting later th
  • Scooby-Doo

    Dir: Raja Gosnell. US. 2002. 86 mins.Corporate film-making has become so transparent these days that Hollywood studios are not even making a pretence of masking their priorities on a project like Scooby-Doo. Moving at a pace so frenetic it makes MTV look stately, and blanketed in radio-friendly pop tunes (rock group Sugar Ray actually appear in the movie), the film is a bundle of cross-promotional gimmicks masquerading as a narrative feature. But however unimaginativel
  • Scooby-Doo takes $1m in three Asian territories

    Scooby-Doo complemented its memorable bow in the US over the weekend by storming to the top of the box office in three Asian territories with a combined gross of $955,000 from Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, according to estimates released yesterday (June 17). In the first international roll-outs for the Warners Brothers live-action picture, Scooby-Doo registered the third highest opening of all time for a family entertainment movie in Thailand behind Harry Potter An
  • Sidney and De la Iglesia retrospectives open 17th Cinema Jove

    The 17th youth-oriented Cinema Jove International Film Festival of Valencia, Spain (June 15-22) opened on Saturday night with retrospectives of recently deceased American director and producer George Sidney and popular Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia.De la Iglesia launched the festival on a joking note, comparing his relatively small body of work - which nevertheless includes some of Spain's biggest box office hits such as Dying Of Laughter and Commonwealth - to that
  • Spain's Lolafilms secures Euros 18m capital boost

    The financial restructuring of Spain's Lolafilms has concluded with majority backer Admira and Lola CEO Andres Vicente Gomez both subscribing to the Euros 18m capital amplification for the company. Gomez lifts his interest in Lola from 13% to 30% after buying out minority shareholders, while Admira - the media unit of telecoms conglomerate Telefonica - remains 70% owner through its newly created Telefonica Contenidos (Contents) division. The pact reinstates Gomez, who founded Lo
  • Spider-Man swings past Episode II's international revenues

    Despite performing below expectations, Spider-Man's UK opening gross helped the Columbia TriStar blockbuster swing past the $200m international box office mark at the weekend.Continuing success in territories where the film still leads the chart, such as Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, combined with top spot grabbing debuts in the UK and Hungary this week have seen Spider-Man hit $218.6m.This tally puts Sam Raimi's film ahead in the battle of the
  • Spidey meets his match in UK soccer fever

    Spider-Man met his match this weekend failing to live up to opening box office expectations in the UK as audiences stayed in with World Cup fever.After its record-breaking launch in the US was followed by a slew of records around the world, much was expected of the web-slinger in the UK. However the superhero had to contend with a 12-certificate and lunchtime England and Ireland football matches on Saturday and Sunday.Spider-Man's opening gross for the UK and Irela
  • Stark contrast in 2002 cinema admissions across Europe

    Following news that 2002's US box office is running some 20% ahead of last year, results from European territories are revealing some stark contrasts in box office fortunes for the first five months of this year.According to the Danish Film Institute, 2002 could be the most profitable in 20 years for local exhibitors. During this year's first five months, admissions have risen by 30% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, in Spain, admissions for the first five months
  • Sutherland, Hunnam, Winstone join Cold Mountain cast

    Anthony Minghella has rounded out the star-studded cast for his epic new film Cold Mountain and production is scheduled to begin in Romania on July 15. Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Kathy Baker, Ray Winstone, Ethan Suplee, James Gammon and Charlie Hunnam are the new additions to the cast which already includes Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellwegger, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni Ribisi and Brendan Gleeson.The film, a co-production between Miramax Films a
  • Sweden appoints Dane as film commissioner

    After years of casting a covetous eye in the direction of booming Denmark, the Swedish Film Institute has appointed Per Nielsen, a Danish national, as its new Commissioner for feature film. The 45-year-old producer, scriptwriter and musician has previously been a Film Commissioner for the Danish Film Institute. For the past two years, he has worked as a producer at Denmark's Zentropa Entertainment."My love for film as a form of art is genuine - it unites drama, music and picture
  • The Hard Word

    Dir: Scott Roberts. Australia. 2002. 103 mins.Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths, two Australian actors running hot in the States, return home to lend class to this lively but otherwise undistinguished gangster comedy-thriller. Screenwriter Scott Roberts' directorial debut has plenty of bloodthirsty violence shared between a strong cast of tough guys - cops, crims and dodgy lawyers - plus a helping of nuzzled breasts and juicy sex. Certainly there's international potential to se
  • The Tunnel's Teamworx team picks up producers' prize

    German production company Teamworx's Nico Hofmann, Ariane Krampe, and Bettina Reitz, the team behind "event television" productions The Tunnel and Tanz Mit Dem Teufel - Die Entfuehrung Des Richard Oetker, have been awarded this year's Producers' Prize at the Cologne Conference. Picked up in January at the Rotterdam Film Festival for a US theatrical release by Roxie Releasing, the originally made-for-TV Tunnel was subsequently sold by Beta Cinema, in an edited theat
  • Three Oz talent management companies merge

    Three of Australia's talent management companies: Morrissey Management, WildCat Personal Management and the Artist & Entertainment Group, have merged to create new entity, Encompass Management..Morrissey has many actors and a limited number of writers and directors on its books, Wildcat is best known for its representation of cinematographers and other film technicians, and the third company is billed as an investment and development company.The amalgamation of the clients and s
  • Two Spanish digital TV channels launch, reluctantly

    Frustrated subscribers of Spain's failed digital terrestrial TV (DTT) pay platform Quiero TV are enjoying an unintended consolation. They are currently among the only consumers with the technology to view Spain's two new free-to-air DTT platforms, Net TV and Veo Television, which launched on Tuesday. After months of complaining about market conditions - including a lack of availability of reasonably priced DTT signal decoders, and soaring, unregulated fees for transmission - Net and Ve
  • Ufa Theater faces the final curtain

    Production, distribution and now exhibition - German cinema chain Ufa-Theater looks like becoming the latest in a growing list of insolvent German media companies.According to business daily newspaper Handelsblatt, a shortfall of Euros 4m could bring down the once dominant German exhibitor. Company shareholders have already spent weeks considering various rescue plans while managing director Stefan Lehmann even won approval from backers Apax Partners and Pricoa (who hold 45% of
  • UK's Film Consortium names Neil Peplow head of production

    Neil Peplow is taking over as head of production at UK National Lottery franchise The Film Consortium, replacing Julie Baines with immediate effect.Peplow recently produced Mike Bassett: England Manager and The Abduction Club. He was co-producer on Waking Ned and Shooting Fish, working with Richard Holmes, the former managing director of the franchise's parent, Civilian Content."Neil is an experienced producer, respected in the Industry," said Chris A
  • US producer Saban Entertainment joins KirchMedia bidders

    US producer Haim Saban is set to join the growing list of bidders for the insolvent KirchMedia, albeit in collaboration with further strategic partners, according to the latest issue of the German news weekly Focus.The magazine reported that Saban Entertainment, a regular business partner of Kirch in the past, had fresh cash in the kitty totalling around $1.45bn after recently selling its stake in the Fox Family TV channel.In addition, Focus noted that Kirch arch-rival Herbert
  • Vivendi liquidates environment assets

    In another bid to cut its debt and raise its status with the financial community, Vivendi Universal is to sell 15% of Vivendi Environnement.The move should cut its stake to 40% and raise up to $1.9bn (Euros 2bn), but the company did not publish a timetable for the disposal saying only that it will be completed "when market conditions are appropriate and as soon as practicable". The business, which operates water, sewage and transport activities, will also raise $1.4bn (Euros 1.5
  • Vivendi prepares to sell set-top box maker

    Vivendi Universal is expected to put its Canal Plus Technologies (CPT) unit up for sale in the latest debt debt-reduction move.The business, which produces software for pay-TV encryption and interactive broadcasting and set-top boxes for Canal Plus' channels, is valued at between Euros500m and Euros1bn. That could mean Vivendi's debt levels would be brought down by upto Euros500m. Likely bidders are expected to include Liberate Technologies of the US and Kudelski of Switzerland.
  • Witherspoon hires Simpson at Type A

    Jennifer Simpson has been appointed president of Reese Witherspoon's production company Type A Films which is based at Intermedia in Los Angeles. Simpson will oversee acquisition, development and production of all projects for the company and will report to Witherspoon, the actress with credits including Legally Blonde and The Importance Of Being Earnest.Simpson began her career at ICM and was recently head of development and production at Barry Mendel's Disney-based prod