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25 February 2000

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  • ABC's theatrical arm acquires Tank Engine movie

    ABC Films has confirmed it has acquired all Australian and New Zealand rights to the US$20m family film Thomas And The Magic Railroad which director Britt Allcroft has adapted from the Thomas The Tank Engine hit television series she also created. To avoid Olympics fever, which will take over Australia in the lead up to September, ABC Films will launch the film in December 2000, about six months after the US and UK release. The film began shooting on the Isle of Ma
  • AFM: Alliance Atlantis has head in Clouds

    Alliance Atlantis Communications (AAC) is to finance White Clouds, the Italian-set kidnapping drama that was the last completed feature film screenplay from the late British dramatist Dennis Potter.Adapted from on the novel Cara Massimina, by Italy-based British expat author Tim Parks, the story involves the abduction of a girl by an English teacher. AAC Motion Picture Distribution president Patrice Theroux said that the project will go ahead next year as a co-production
  • AFM: Armstrong, Blanchett in talks for Charlotte

    Gillian Armstong is in advanced talks to direct FilmFour's adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' best-selling novel, Charlotte Gray.John Madden was previously expected to direct the high-profile project but he is now attached to Working Title Films' Captain Corelli's Mandolin. As previously reported, Cate Blanchett, the Australian actress who starred in Armstrong's Oscar & Lucinda, is in talks to star in Charlotte, which is based at UK production outfit Ecosse Films, the produc
  • AFM: Breillat's Fat Girl sexes up FPI slate

    Flach Pyramide International (FPI) is once again at a film market selling sex. After the hugely controversial Romance, FPI is at the AFM handling Catherine Breillat's next picture, Fat Girl, an explosive examination of female sexuality set on the slopes of Mount Etna.The picture, which examines the troubled relationship of two teenage sisters, is set to go before the cameras at the end of March. Breillat this week finally cast two little known child actresses for the lead
  • AFM: Cineart, A-Film acquire Magnolia

    The freshly-formed Benelux distribution alliance between Cineart and A-Film is understood to have secured Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, its first title from New Line Cinema.Cineart targeted the ensemble drama even before it scooped three Oscar nominations this month (including one for Tom Cruise as Best Supporting Actor) and then walked away with the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Under a partnership forged last autumn, A-Film handles Cineart's Benelux
  • AFM: Eastwood to be feted by Venice festival

    Clint Eastwood will be awarded a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at this year's Venice Film Festival (Aug 30-Sept 9).The award, to be presented on the festival's opening night, will be followed by the European premiere of Space Cowboys, Eastwood's latest directorial effort.Venice president Paolo Baretta and festival director Alberto Barbera said: "Clint Eastwood is one of the few remaining legends still active in the industry. In a career spanning 45 years, Eastwood
  • AFM: Franchise, Mark Canton reteam for Six

    Elie Samaha's Franchise Pictures and Mark Canton's The Mark Canton Co - whose first collaboration Get Carter opens later this year and who are about to shoot Angel Eyes with Jennifer Lopez - have pacted to reteam for the third time on action thriller Six.To be directed by Kirk Wong (The Big Hit), the movie is the story of a military man infused with an intensive adrenaline flow that causes super-human strength and speed when he's angry. Craig Baumgarten and
  • AFM: Harlin tapped for Stallone's Champs

    Renny Harlin is in talks to direct Sylvester Stallone's long-cherished motor racing thriller for Franchise Pictures. Formerly titled Champs, the movie is now simply known as Untitled and will be executive produced by Franchise's Andrew Stevens.Untitled would reteam Harlin, hot off worldwide hit Deep Blue Sea, and Stallone, who has just completed Get Carter, for the first time since 1993 smash Cliffhanger.Stallone has been working on the
  • AFM: Harrison Ford drops out of Traffic

    Harrison Ford has dropped out of Traffic, the highly publicised drug trafficking movie to which Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) bought international rights last week. Director Steven Soderbergh, domestic distributor Fox Searchlight and IEG are already talking to other major male stars with a view to replacing him and are hoping to seal a deal in the next 24 hours. IEG said yesterday that its involvement in the picture is contingent on finding on the right casting replacement.
  • AFM: HBO Asia signs five-picture deal with J&M

    HBO Asia has licensed five pictures from London-based production and sales outfit J&M Entertainment, including House On Haunted Hill which was distributed in the US by HBO sister company Warner Bros.The other movies in the deal are The Guilty and History Is Made At Night, both starring Bill Pullman, Bruno, with Gary Sinise and Kathy Bates, and A Texas Funeral with Robert Patrick and Martin Sheen."This is another example of our commitment to bri
  • AFM: Kinowelt snaps up Lolafilms trio

    German mini-conglomerate Kinowelt International has bought all German-speaking rights to three films from Spain's Lolafilms - That Girl From Rio, The Dancer Upstairs and Gaudi Afternoon.All three films are being produced by Lolafilms' UK-based production outfit. Comedy Gaudi Afternoon, which stars Juliette Lewis and Judy Davis, is currently shooting in London with Susan Seidelman directing. The film is an adaptation of Barbara Wilson's novel.The Da
  • AFM: Lion's Gate picks up Race To Space

    Lions Gate Films International has acquired foreign rights to Race To Space, a true story drama about the first chimpanzee in space, which stars James Woods, Alex Linz, Annabeth Gish and William Atherton. Columbia TriStar Home Video has domestic rights to the movie which started principal photography this month with Sean McNamara (Three Ninjas) directing. McNamara and David Brookwell of BME are producing and they concluded the Lions Gate deal with international chief Joe
  • AFM: Metrodome forms prod venture with Danish duo

    Metrodome Distribution, the UK distributor of British hit Human Traffic, has formed a UK production company with Nicolas Winding Refn and Henrik Danstrup, the up-and-coming film-makers behind the two Danish films Pusher and Bleeder.Titled NWR UK, the company will produce English-language features from the Danish duo, with director Winding Refn's English-language debut to shoot in October.The company, jointly-owned by Metrodome and the Danish director-produce
  • Artisan seeks to raise $140m from Nasdaq IPO

    Artisan Entertainment has announced that its seeking to raise $140m from its upcoming initial public offering and has applied to trade its shares on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol "RTSN". Merrill Lynch & Co., Bear Stearns & Co and ING Barings have been engaged as Artisan's IPO underwriters.According to a preliminary prospectus filed Friday with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Artisan intends to use a portion of the net proceeds to repay $15 million of the company's
  • AtomFilms teams up with Forefront

    Seattle-based Internet distributor AtomFilms has boosted its catalogue through a partnership with off-line short film distributor Forefront Films.Forefront's library of short films will be added to AtomFilms own catalogue which has recently been expanded through a deal with the UK's Aardman Animation and with South Africa's Primedia Pictures to acquire UK broadcaster Channel 4's acclaimed Short And Curlies series.As part of the Forefront collaboration, the company's two founders
  • Audition

    Dir: Miike Takashi. Japan. 1999. 115 mins.Prod co: Omega Project. Int'l sales: Omega Project (83 1 5468 1212) Scr: Tengan Daisuke, based on novel by Murakami Ryu. DoP: Yamamoto Hideo. Prod design: Ozeki Tatsuo. Ed: Shimamura Yasushi. Mus: Endo Koji. Main cast: Ishibashi Ryo, Shiina Eihi, Matsuda Miyuki, Ishibashi Renji.The talk of this year's Rotterdam Film Festival, Takashi Miike's startling blend of gentle family melodrama and graphic horror is easy to either admire or
  • Bellens appointed new chief of CLT-Ufa

    Luxembourg-based broadcaster CLT-Ufa has named Didier Bellens chief executive officer and Ewald Walgenbach chief operating officer. Bellens takes over from joint chief executives Remy Sautter and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz who were appointed to represent CLT and Ufa when the two companies merged three years ago. The appointments will take effect on March 10. Bellens is currently managing director of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, co-chairman of the executive committee of CLT-Ufa and chairman
  • Callahan set to acquire Deutsche cable assets

    Deutsche Telekom is expected to confirm today the sale of a 55% stake in its cable television network in North Rhine-Westphalia, for about $3bn to Denver investment company Callahan Associates International (CAI).In addition, DB Investor, an investment unit of Deutsche Bank, is expected to take a minority stake in the network. The deal will more than double to 15 million the number of European homes reached by CAI, which is headed up by former US West executives. CAI plans to u
  • Canada's Lux, Jet team up for production venture

    Montreal's Lux Films has joined forces with commercials house Jet Films to form a new feature film company Go Films.The new company, headed by Lux president Nicole Robert, director Gabriel Pelletier and Jet's Jacques Langlois and Richard Speer, will focus on producing features for the domestic and international marketplace."We decided to create Go because with the various experience of the four partners we thought we could build a strong company," said Robert. "We will continue
  • Cecchi Gori faces up-Stream battle

    Italian media mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori is taking legal action against his partners in pay-TV platform Stream over a capital increase which he claims is designed to give Rupert Murdoch control of the company.According to Italian press reports, Cecchi Gori has filed an urgent suit with a Rome court to try to overturn the $276m (lire540bn) capital increase which was decided at a board meeting on Feb 4. He claims he was only given a few hours notice for the meeting, and that the capital
  • China Star licenses martial arts pics to Yahoo!

    Hong Kong film production house China Star Entertainment has signed a distribution agreement with Yahoo! Hong Kong to supply martial arts pictures for Internet distribution.Under the terms of the deal, 100 China Star titles will be digitised and distributed on the Internet free of charge. China Star chairman Heung Wah-keung said he hoped free distribution would combat video compact disc (VCD) piracy.China Star has optioned some of the titles to be digitised from Golden Harvest E
  • Cinar shares slide following review admissions

    Montreal-based Cinar Corp, a producer of family films and children's television, watched its shares plummet this week after the company admitted that an internal review, prompted by tax fraud charges, could adversely affect its financial results."The financial and accounting impacts of the outcome of those reviews, although not yet determined, are expected to be greater than initially anticipated," the company said in a release. "However, the company expects that the outcome of such re
  • Clouds Of May (Mayis Sikintisi)

    Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Turkey. 1999. 130mins.Prod co: NBC Ajans. Int'l sales: Keriman Ulas Ulusoy (33 1 48 87 36 26). Scr, DoP, Prod des, Ed: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Main cast: Ermin Ceylan, Muzzafer Ozdemir, Ermin Toprak, Muhammed Zimbaoglu, Sadik Inescu, Ebru Yapici.Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan evokes the spirit of Chekhov's Cherry Orchard in this film set in a small village in contemporary Anatolia. With little action and dialogue punctuated with long silences, this
  • Fandango

    Dir: Matthias Glasner. Germany. 2000. 103mins.Prod co: Calypso Filmproduktion, Buena Vista International Filmproduktion (Germany). Int'l sales: Bavaria Film International (49 89 6499 3506). Prod: Werner Possardt. Scr: Glasner. DoP: Sonja Rom. Prod des: Ingrid Buron. Ed: Markus Goller. Mus: Fetisch/meister. Main cast: Moritz Bleibtreu, Nicolette Krebitz, Richy Muller, Corinna Harfouch, Volker Spengler.A high-gloss, high-speed rush through Berlin's clubland, Fandango
  • Filmax launches Galician animation studio

    Spain's growing mini-studio The Filmax Group has joined with post-production laboratory Filmtel and a Galician capital risk fund to launch animation producer Bren Entertainment. The new outfit, which describes itself as an 'animation factory', will service both Filmax-originated projects as well as those from other producers from both Spain and abroad. Filmax owns 58% of the venture and Filmtel 30% with the capital risk fund - Xes Galicia - holding a 12% share. The three partner
  • Finland's Ambush sweeps local Jussi Awards

    Finnish box office smash Ambush, directed by Olli Saarela, swept seven of the Finnish Film Awards - the Jussi - last weekend taking prizes for best film, direction and cinematography as well as editing, music, sound and set design.The film, produced by Marko Rohr and Ilkka Matila for MRP Productions, was written by director Saarela with author Antti Tuuri based on his novel which takes place in the first days of the Second World War in Russian Karelia.Ambush was re
  • First Look Pictures acquires The Opportunists

    First Look Pictures has acquired North American theatrical and TV rights to Sundance American Spectrum entry The Opportunists from the film's producers Prosperity Pictures and New Beginnings Media. First Look's parent company Overseas FilmGroup was the international sales agent on the film which stars Christopher Walken and Cyndi Lauper.As reported in screendaily last week, Blockbuster Entertainment had already bought domestic video rights to the film.World premiered at the Lo
  • Germany's RTV buys Australian Energee

    German animation production-distribution entity Ravensburger Film & TV (RTV) has purchased a 69% stake in one of Australia's most significant animation companies, Energee Entertainment, in a move that will spur production activity at the company's new studios opened late last year in Sydney. RTV paid $24.6m (DM48m) in shares and cash for the stake. Energee is currently in production on animated feature The Magic Pudding which Icon Entertainment International is selling overseas.
  • Giffoni children's fest gets cash boost

    The Giffoni Film Festival has had a $1m budget increase (70% from public organisations, 30% from private sponsors) for this year's event which runs from July 15-22.Sharon Stone and Oliver Stone and expected to be among the guests at the event which celebrates its 30th birthday this year. The festival, which is the only one featuring a jury made up entirely of school children, has seen its popularity grow since its launch in 1971 and has helped revitalise cinema awareness in the Campani
  • Globe buys Human Voices for Australia, New Zealand

    Despite withdrawing from international acquisitions, The Globe Film Co has signed on to handle Australian and New Zealand distribution on Til Human Voices Wake Us, one of two features which have just secured investment from the Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC). Director-writer Michael Petroni has sold several scripts to Hollywood studios but Human Voices will be his directing debut. Production is scheduled to start in late April. The film is being made under the
  • Grade consortium buys Pinewood for $99m

    After announcing yesterday that it has sold Odeon Cinemas to private equity financier Cinven, the UK's Rank group today confirmed the sale of British film studio Pinewood Studios to a consortium headed by former Channel 4 boss Michael Grade for $99m (£62m). The deal sees Grade become chairman of Pinewood Studios while fellow consortium member Ivan Dunleavy takes up the reins as chief executive.Dunleavy joins Grade in a management buy-in of the UK facility, led by one of Europe's
  • Hilltop debut slate boasts Miller, Leven

    In an attempt to become a new supplier of studio-level pictures, Hilltop Entertainment has unveiled a debut slate featuring Gone To Earth - the second film from director Rebecca Miller starring Oscar nominee Samantha Morton - and Lovers Liars And Thieves which marks the first feature from writer/director Jeremy Leven since Don Juan De Marco.Hilltop has also boarded Paul Sorvino's long-cherished modern update of King Lear to which MGM has acquired domestic r
  • Hippolyt

    Dir: Barna Kabay, Katalin Petenyi. Hungary. 1999. 92 mins.Prod co: Europe 2000. Supported by RTL Klub. Int'l sales: Europe 2000. Prod: Barna Kabay. Scr: Gabor Nogradi, Robert Koltai. DoP: Tibor Mathe. Ed: Mari Miklos. Music: Gabor Berkes. Main cast: Karoly Eperjes, Robert Koltai, Judit Pogany, Kata Husazrik, Attila Arpa, Sandor Gaspar, Agi Szirtes, Peter Balazs, Monika Ullmann.Already tipped for international festival exposure, this new comedy is part of the new wave of l
  • Hollywood returns to Serbia

    Serbian distributor Vans, which handles UIP's slate in the region, is opening The Mummy on February 24, marking the third studio distributor to return to Serbia since Hollywood ceased distribution activity in the region in March 1999.All but one studio - 20th Century Fox - is now active in the region. The US majors withdrew from Serbia and Montenegro when the NATO bombings started in March last year. Vans plans to follow The Mummy with the release of American Beauty
  • Home Game (Heimspiel)

    Dir: Pepe Danquart. Germany. 1999. 95 mins.Prod co: Quinte Film, Arte, Goethe Institut. Int'l sales: Amberlon Pictures. German distribution: Senator Film. Prod: Mirjam Quinte. Scr: Pepe Danquart. DoP: Michael Hammon. Ed: Mona Brauer. Mus: Walter W. Cikan, Eddi Siblik. Before embarking on his rousing documentary about an East Berlin ice-hockey team, director Pepe Danquart went to see the team play on their home ground every week for six months. His commitment certainly pai
  • IEG to finance historical epic Smoke And Mirrors

    Initial Entertainment Group (IEG), which last week bought international rights to high profile Harrison Ford-starrer Traffic, has unveiled another acquisition - the rights to historical adventure Smoke And Mirrors, one of the most famous never-produced scripts in Hollywood in recent years. IEG will fully finance the film and handle worldwide rights. Catherine Zeta Jones, who'll also act in Traffic, is in talks to star in the movie, which is being produced by Joel Douglas and Kevin Bro
  • India's GV, Asian Online form webcasting venture

    Madras-based production outfit GV Films is linking up with UK internet portal Asian Online to create a joint venture focusing on internet broadcasting and related ventures.A memorandum of understanding was signed in London between GV chairman and managing director G. Venkateswaran and Asian Online on February 18. The board of directors is scheduled to meet on February 23 to formalise the joint venture. Asian Online was set up in 1996 as an internet service to the Asian community
  • Initial teams with Jodie Foster on Altar Boys

    In its third major acquisition of the week, Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) has boarded The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys, a project developed by Jodie Foster's Egg Pictures, which Foster will co-produce and take a supporting role in - as a one-legged nun.IEG will fully finance the $15m-$20m film which was originally set up with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (PFE) - and then Universal - under Egg's deal with PFE.Foster will produce alongside her Egg partner Meg LeFauve and J
  • Israel's Yana's Friends adds BO success to awards

    Israeli film Yana's Friends, directed by Arik Kaplun, is fast becoming one of Israel's best performing movies as well as its most decorated.The bitter-sweet comedy, about Russian immigrants trying to find their bearings in Israel during the Gulf War, has racked up about 100,000 admissions since its release in October 1999 - the best performance for a local picture in the last 12 months. Yana's Friends, which was co-produced and is being distributed by Israel's Tran
  • Italy's Eagle appoints Sodano, plans buying spree

    Italian distributor Eagle Pictures plans to make several big-budget acquisitions at this year's AFM following an investment boost from private equity financier B&S and the appointment of former SACIS chief Giampaolo Sodano as president. B&S Private Equity Group has taken a 20% stake in Eagle which is gearing up to float on the Italian stock exchange before the end of the year. B&S has a co-investment agreement with Italian Private Equity Fund III, a $300m fund aimed at investments in t
  • Kidman, Norton lift UGC's $32m Veil

    Gillian Armstrong's long-gestating adaptation of Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil has re-surfaced as a $32m project on the sales slate of France's UGC International, with actors Nicole Kidman and Edward Norton the targeted leads.Maugham's turn-of-the-century tale is set in China and follows an adulterous doctor's wife who redeems herself during an epidemic. Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) adapted the book, which has already inspired two previous US movies: Richard Boleslavsky's
  • Korea's CJ unveils production drive

    Encouraged by economic recovery in the region, DreamWorks backer CJ Entertainment is stepping up production in its native Korea to 10-12 pictures a year. The company has produced only 10 pictures to date."We stepped back from production during the economic crisis, but the time is now right to increase our investment," said Mark Yoon, CJ Entertainment's general manager for international sales and acquisitions.'The quality of Korean films has improved massively in the last few yea
  • Little Vilma: The Last Diary

    Dir: Marta Meszaros. Hungary. 1999. 115mins.Prod co: Dialogue Studios. Supported by: Eurimages, Mafilm, Duna TV. Int'l sales: Dialogue Studios. Prods: Csaba Bereczki, Karoly Makk. DoP: Nykia Jancso. Ed: Grzesuik Cezary. Main cast: Jan Nowicki, Barbara Hegyi, Kitty Keri, Lukas Nowiczki, Cleo Ladanyi, Lili Monori.Critics and cinephiles have long-awaited the last installment in Marta Meszaros' internationally acclaimed diary series. The 68-year-old Hungarian director complet
  • Love Me

    Dir: Laetitia Masson. France. 1999. 105mins.Prod co: Lilo Films. Int'l sales: Flach Pyramide International (33 1 42 96 02 20). Prod: Alain Sarde. Exec prod: Nicolas Daguet. Co-prod: Christine Gozlan. Scr: Masson. DoP: Antoine Heberle. Prod des: Arnaud de Moleron. Ed: Ailo Auguste. Music: John Cale. Main cast: Sandrine Kiberlain, Johnny Halliday, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Aurore Clement, Julian Sands, Julie Depardieu.Laetitia Masson's third film charts the dreamlike romantic
  • New Line locks down Japanese package deals

    New Line International (NLI) has sealed two high-profile package deals in Japan - with Nippon Herald for 15 Minutes starring Robert De Niro and ensemble piece Knockaround Guys, and with Gaga Communications for Jennifer Lopez-starrer The Cell, The Invisible Circus with Cameron Diaz and teen comedy Detroit Rock City.Rolf Mittweg, New Line's co-chairman of worldwide theatrical marketing and president of NLI, traditionally sells to Japan on a package basi
  • Nikkatsu forced to sell studio to clear debt

    Japan's oldest film production company Nikkatsu is selling its studio - one of the largest and most active in Japan - for $72.7m (Y8bn). The buyer is Maru, a real estate management company owned by Masaya Nakamura, the president of Nikkatsu's corporate parent Namco.The sale will enable Nikkatsu to raise more than half the funds it needs to clear its corporate debt, which currently amounts to $109m (Y12bn). The company hopes to reach an agreement with its creditors to pay the remaining
  • Nora

    Dir: Pat Murphy. Ire-UK-It-Ger. 2000. 106mins.Prod cos: A Natural Nylon Prod. Volta/Metropolitan Films, Gam Film, Road Movies. Int'l Sales: IAC Films. Exec Prod: Guy Collins. Prods: Bradley Adams, Damon Bryant, Tracey Seaward. Co-Prods: Ewan McGregor, James Flynn, Ulrich Felsberg, Gerhardo Pagliei. Scr: Murphy, Gerard Stembridge based on the biography by Brenda Maddox. DoP: Jean Francois Robin. Prod des: Alan MacDonald. Ed: Pia Di Ciaula. Music: Stanislas Syrewicz. Main cast: Susan
  • Odeon, ABC merge to form UK's largest circuit

    The Rank Group has confirmed the sale of Odeon Cinemas to private equity financier Cinven, which plans to combine the circuit with its own ABC Cinemas to create the UK's largest cinema chain.Cinven paid $450m (£280m) for Rank's 75 cinemas following several weeks of speculation. Odeon chief Richard Segal has been appointed chief executive of the 132-site combined circuit which he will run with the rest of Odeon's management team. The head of ABC Cinemas, Barry Jenkins, will become deput
  • Quebec gears up for co-production conference

    Quebec-based international financing and co-production conference CONTACT has selected 20 feature film projects for this year's event (March 3-6).The initiative, organized by the Societe de Development des Enterprises Culturelles du Quebec (SODEC) with the involvement of Brussels-based Linking Market Forces (LMF), is open to French and English-language projects with co-production and foreign distribution potential that need international financing.Producers submitted proposals l
  • Record-breaking previews for Australia's Wog Boy

    Australian comedy The Wog Boy has grossed a highly impressive A$1.2m from just three days of preview screenings (Feb 18-20), which would have placed it at number three in the chart had it been included. Previews are traditionally excluded from box office charts. Only two films performed better than this unusual local film: UIP's critically acclaimed The Green Mile (pictured) and American Beauty, which are in their second and fourth weeks on release respectively.
  • Renaissance, Clear Blue Sky strike three-year pact

    UK producer Renaissance Films has teamed up with Paul Allen's Clear Blue Sky Productions in a three-year co-financing and co-producing deal.Renaissance will handle international sales on at least five films to be produced under the agreement which will see the partners share investment and profits. The first project under the deal is Marleen Gorris' The Luzhin Defense starring Emily Watson and John Turturro, which is now in post-production.Both companies are cash rich - R
  • Softbank invests in Content Capital

    Japanese venture capitalist Softbank has taken a strategic stake in Australia's Content Capital, one of two government-sanctioned Film Licence Investment Companies (FLICs) aimed at coaxing private investment into Australian production. The investment is Softbank's first venture capital investment in Australia. Legislation restricts foreign companies from owning more than 33% of the FLICs share capital, but Content Capital executive Greg Smith said Softbank's stake was not that high and
  • Spain gets greenlight for super studio

    Spain looks set to gain its biggest ever studio complex after the backers behind the proposed 'Audiovisual City' greenlit the project this week.The complex, newly dubbed "The City of Light" (La Ciudad de la Luz)', is being supported by the Valencia regional government and as-yet-unnamed partners from the 'Spanish and international film industries'.The project, spearheaded by Valencian director Luis Berlanga, is being billed as the most ambitious studio planned for construction i
  • Star mulls Indian Internet drive

    Star TV has joined the rush to invest in Internet ventures by unveiling plans to pump between $50m-$100m into Asian Internet properties including consumer portals in India.The company is planning to take between 10 and 20 per cent equity stakes in popular Indian consumer portals, according to News Corp India chief executive Peter Mukerjea. It is also looking at the option of forming a joint venture with an Indian Internet service provider (ISP).The first deal is expected in the
  • Summit has Panic attack

    Summit Entertainment has acquired all international rights to Panic - the Sundance American Spectrum entry which was picked up by Artisan Entertainment for domestic release earlier this week.Panic stars William H Macy as a man having a mid-life crisis drawn to a manic young woman (Neve Campbell) he meets in his therapist's waiting room. Joining Macy and Campbell in the star-studded cast are Tracey Ullman, John Ritter and Donald Sutherland. It was directed by Henry Bromell
  • Suzhou racks up sales at quiet Berlin market

    Philippe Bober's Berlin-based The Coproduction Office could claim the accolade of "buzz title" at last week's European Film Market (EFM) for Chinese director Lou Ye's Suzhou (pictured) which has sold to 12 territories and is expected to clean up the rest of the key territories at this week's AFM.With 14 invitations from international festivals also in his pocket, Bober sold the film to Germany (Bayerischer Rundfunk), Japan (Uplink), France (Goutte D'Or), Austria (Polyfilm), Swit
  • The Captain's Daughter (Russkij Bunt)

    Dir: Alexander Proshkin. Russia-France. 2000. 130 mins.Prod co: NTV-Profit, Roissy Films, Production Le Pont, Canal Plus, Goskino, Globus Studios of Orenburg. Int'l sales: Roissy Films-Celluloid Dreams (33) 1 53 53 50 50. Exec Prod: Vialy Koshman. Prod: Igor Tolstunov, Mikhail Zilberman. Scr: Galina Arbuzova, Stanislav Govorukhin, Vladimir Zheleznikov, based on the novel by Alexander Pushkin. DoP: Sergei Yurizditsky. Prod des: Alexander Tolkachev, Vladimir Yermakov. Music: Vladimir
  • Toshiba joint venture cranks up first production

    Towani Corp, a joint venture between Toshiba, Warner Bros and Nippon Television Network, has started production on its first feature film, action fantasy Sakuya, which has Tomoo Haraguchi directing.Haraguchi is one of Japan's leading make-up artists and special effects supervisors with credits including the horror hit Ring and the Gamera science fiction fantasy series. Sakuya is about a teenage girl with supernatural power who battles goblins with a magic sw
  • Toshiba moots link-up with AOL-Time Warner

    In a bid to boost its low profile in the Internet business, Toshiba has announced plans to enter into talks with AOL-Time Warner about the distribution of content in Japan."We have long had a strong relationship with Time Warner. Since the merger with AOL they have been emphasising their Internet business and that is one area we are certainly interested in, particularly the supply of content," said Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Omori. The date and agenda for talks between the two co
  • Toy Story 2, Beach and Beauty show legs

    The triumvirate at the top of the record-breaking UK chart last weekend maintained eye-popping screen averages for the three days Feb 18-20. Despite Toy Story 2's unprecedented $12.4m (£7.8m) gross last weekend, the computer-generated animation fell just 16% this weekend, with a 3-day gross of $10.4m (£6.5m). This brings its tally to an amazing $27.7m (£17.3m) after 10 days on wide release. The Beach and American Beauty also held over well at number two and three
  • UK partners join forces for urban production

    Leaping on the Blair Witch guerilla filmmaking bandwagon, UK production company Samuelson Productions is linking up with BSkyB, Whitecliff Film and Television and British Screen Finance to produce a slate of low-budget, digital films for distribution theatrically, on television and on the Internet.The films - to be shot on digital video - will be based on urban myths which have been written up into a series of books by Jan Brunvand, a professor of contemporary mythology at the U
  • UK's Carlton Cinema channel set for cable launch

    UK digital terrestrial channel Carlton Cinema is launching on cable on March 1 in a move that will increase its subscriber base by 1.5 million viewers. The 24-hour film channel, owned by UK media group Carlton Communications, has concluded agreements with UK cable operators Cable and Wireless, NTL, Telewest and Atlantic. The channel, which was launched in November 1998, currently reaches 550,000 homes through digital terrestrial platform ONdigital, which is jointly owned by Carlton and
  • UK's Warriors, Kid scoop Nymphs at Monte Carlo

    UK productions dominated the mini-series category of the 40th Monte Carlo Television Festival (Feb 17-23) with the BBC's Warriors walking away with the top award and Channel Four's Kid In The Corner scooping three of the four remaining prizes.Peter Kosminky's Warriors - which focuses on a group of British UN peacekeepers in Bosnia and is distributed worldwide by the UK's Itel - was awarded the Golden Nymph for the best programme in its category. Kid In Th
  • UPI floats Bullwinkle, Hannibal

    Universal Pictures International (UPI) is sounding out selected territorial buyers at the American Film Market (AFM) on a clutch of high-profile studio titles headed by the $90m The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle and Ridley Scott's Hannibal, the sequel to Silence Of The Lambs.The move is seen as a bid by Universal to find a middle way between shouldering films' entire budgets and offloading all international rights through independent sales houses.
  • US, German titles take top honours at Berlin

    Magnolia, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, was awarded the Golden Bear at the 50th Berlin International Film Festival on Sunday night (Feb 20), a choice that proved popular among critics and audiences alike. US films also picked up Silver Bears for best actor and director, but for the second year running German film-makers were also among the prize-winners called onto the stage at the Berlinale Palast on Potsdamer Platz. Following the success of Andreas Dresen's Night Shapes
  • USA, Canal Plus backing Finch start-up Eclipse

    Former William Morris Agency (WMA) UK heads Charles Finch and Luc Roeg have formed a management and production company - Eclipse - with the backing of USA Films and Canal Plus.London-based Eclipse will produce four pictures a year under the terms of the three-year deal, with USA label October Films handling domestic distribution and Canal Plus handling international sales. Budgets will be 'beyond $15m with some exceptions' according to Finch. The company will also produce television pr
  • Venus outshines Joan at Cesars

    With eight nominations each, Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc and Patrice Leconte's The Girl On The Bridge (La Fille Sur Le Pont) may have been the hottest contenders for the Cesar awards - France's equivalent of the Academy Awards - but it was a smaller film Tonie Marshall's Venus Beaute which finally picked up top honours, much to everyone's surprise.The romantic comedy - a sleeper hit in France in 1999 with over 1 million admissions - won fou
  • Visionview taps Berliner Bank's Robbins

    Veteran UK film and television financier Jim Reeve has ramped up his financing outfit Visionview with the appointment of Steve Robbins.Robbins joins Reeve's outfit from Berliner Bank where he has spent the last seven years, most recently as the bank's head of media finance.The duo will work side by side at Visionview to arrange financing structures for film and television production including sale and lease-back deals for producers and sourcing potential film investment.V
  • Whole Nine Yards, Hanging Up tie for top place

    It was a healthy Presidents Day weekend at the North American box office with the three-day Friday-to-Sunday figures (final four-day figures will emerge on Tuesday) proclaiming $15m apiece for both SPE's Hanging Up and Warner Bros' The Whole Nine Yards (pictured).Meanwhile Paramount/Nickelodeon Movies' Snow Day showed legs with a second weekend take of $11.4m. Other openers included USA Films' sci-fi thriller Pitch Black, an Interscope Communications movie g
  • Working Title taps Cruz for Captain Corelli

    Spanish actress Penelope Cruz has signed to star opposite Nicolas Cage in John Madden's Captain Corelli's Mandolin for Working Title Films. Eric Fellner and Kevin Loader are producing the film which is being backed by Universal Pictures and Canal Plus. Miramax has UK and Australian rights. Production is scheduled to start in May on the Greek island of Cephalonia.Earlier this week Working Title revealed that it had secured Renee Zellweger to play thirtysomething singleton
  • Zellweger to play Bridget Jones for Working Title

    Renee Zellweger has been cast as thirtysomething singleton Bridget Jones in Working Title's adaptation of Helen Fielding's best-selling novel Bridget Jones' Diary.Sharon Mcguire is directing the film from a script by Fielding, Richard Curtis and Andrew Davies. Producers are Jonathan Cavendish and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.Zellweger, who is working with a dialogue coach to play the role with an English accent, will next be seen with Jim Carrey in
  • Zentropa wins producer award at Monte Carlo

    Danish production outfit Zentropa has picked up the award for best European producer at the 40th edition of the Monte Carlo Television Festival (Feb 17-23). The Monte Carlo jury cited Zentropa for the quality of programmes submitted - The Kingdom and TV movie Morten Korch ' and the volume of its co-productions and sales over the last two years.The prolific company, which is headed by Peter Aalbaek-Jensen and Lars von Trier, produced von Trier's potential Cannes tit