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25 February 2004

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  • Isle Of Man Film steps in to rescue The Libertine

    The Libertine, one of the high-profile productions caught up in the UK's tax financing crisis, has secured replacement funding through a deal with Isle of Man Film.The Isle of Man typically provides around 25% of the budget as a direct equity investment, which would plug most of the 35% gap left by the suspension of Grosvenor Park's First Choice scheme. The production, which stars Johnny Depp, John Malkovich and Samantha Morton, will start shooting next week as planned. The pro
  • AFM claims 11% rise in buyers

    AFMA's three top executives sounded a confident noteyesterday ahead of the American Film Market's opening day of trading in Santa Monica,highlighting the trade body's 40% non-American contingent and high projectedattendance as key drivers in what they expect to be a vibrant AFM this week.Speaking at a press conference to launch the event, AFMApresident and chief executive officer Jean Prewitt, executive vice presidentand market managing director Jonathan Wolf and AFMA chairman Michael
  • AFM: deals in brief

    *Myriad Pictures has closed a seven figure-deal with Rai Cinema in Italy for its psychological thriller Trauma starring Colin Firth. The deal was negotiated by Myriad's senior vice president, international distribution, Samantha Horley with Rai's head of film rights Paola Malanga. The film, which was produced by the UK's Little Bird and its horror label Ministry Of Fear, was directed by Marc Evans and also stars Mena Suvari and Brenda Fricker. Warner Bros has UK rights.* Lions G
  • AFM: Focus clinches key sales on Synergy, Seed Of Chucky.

    Focus Features has closed a score of deals on two key titles inthe run-up to the American Film Market, which starts today in Santa Monica.Synergy,the new comedy from Paul and Chris Weitz, which stars Dennis Quaid, ScarlettJohansson, Topher Grace and Selma Blair, will open domestically in the thirdquarter through Focus' parent company Universal Pictures.Entertainment has bought the film for the UK, Tobis forGermany, Roadshow for Australia and New Zealand,
  • AFM: Moviehouse strikes trio of US sales

    UK sales outfit Moviehouse Entertainment has secured US sales for three of its crossover art-house titles The Rage In Placid Lake, Live Forever and Dead Dog Blues.Larry Meistrich's Film Movement, a first-run DVD subscription service set up last year, bought rights to The Rage In Placid Lake, a dark comedy written and directed by Tony McNamara that stars Ben Lee, Miranda Richardson, Garry McDonald and Rose Byrne.First Look Media took North American rig
  • AFM: Myriad strikes sales Deal with Front Street

    Myriad Pictures has pacted with Front Street Films, the producer of Sundance hit We Don't Live Here Anymore, to handle international sales on The Deal, a Wall Street thriller which is set to star Christian Slater and Selma Blair.Slater will play a financial hot shot and Blair his eager new recruit in the film that encompasses government secrecy, illegal oil trading and the Russian mafia. The Deal was written by Ruth Epstein and will be directed by Front Street chie
  • AFM:Maria full of sales for HBO

    Maria Full Of Grace, the Spanish-language story about female drug 'mules', was one of Berlin chief Dieter Kosslick's first selection forcompetition and has proved a strong draw for buyers.Buoyed by Berlin andSundance successes, HBO Films London, its sales house, has now closed deals on Maria with ARP for France, Icon for the UK, Istituto Lucefor Italy, Movie Eye the new Japanese distributor staffed by former Gaga executives,Golem for Spain, Scanbox for Scandinavia, Ascot
  • Almodovar's Educacion to open Cannes

    Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education (La Mala Educacion) will open the 57th Cannes Film Festival on May 12 organisers announced on Friday.Festival organisers told that they are as yet unsure if the film will be screened in competition.In a statement, Almodovar said, "The joy that has overcome me at the announcement that my latest film will inaugurate the next Cannes Festival is that of a little kid rather than an adult. When they told me I became once ag
  • Asian film commissions join forces to attract shoots

    A group of leading film commissions from Asia have agreed to join together in a regional network to be called the Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet).The network intends to make it easier for local and international productions to shoot throughout the region by promoting co-operation among member film commissions, encouraging greater training and professionalism, and undertaking joint marketing efforts.The first organisational meeting for the launch of AFCNet was hosted by t

    Roadshow's ambitious release of Australian dance party film One Perfect Day - 152 screens is a big number for a local film - earned it the seventh spot in the box office chart with a gross of A$437,248 from 152 screens.Another opener, Mona Lisa Smile from Columbia TriStar, leapt into the top spot from being in tenth position last week on previews. It took A$2,049,665 from 237 screens and scored the highest screen average of the week.BVI's Under The Tuscan Sun
  • Barbarian plunders top Cesar prizes

    Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions (LesInvasions Barbares) scooped three key Cesarawards on Saturday night in Paris winning in the best picture, best directorand best screenplay categories.The film, which won acting and writing awards at Cannes last year, is alsonominated for two Oscars next Sunday in the best foreign film and best originalscreenplay races.With 11 nominations heading into the Cesars - the French equivalent to theOscars - Jean-Paul Rappenneau's Bo

    A slew of new openers bombarded the Belgian box office this week but neither diverse US fare including Brother Bear, 21 Grams and Jeepers Creepers 2 nor big-budget French western actionner Blueberry could match the might of Belga's Podium.Yann Moix's French comedy, which stars Benoit Poelvoorde and features Gerard Depardieu's daughter Julie, eased into the top spot with nearly double the second placed film's (Brother Bear) take off less half the scree
  • Bollywood specialist Eros joins UK distributor body

    Eros Group, which specialises in distributing Bollywood films in the UK, is to become a member of UK trade body the Film Distributors' Association on March 1It will be the first Bollywood distributor ever to join the FDA.Established in the 1970s, Eros has library of approximately 1,500 titles, and regularly releases new films to the UK multiplex circuits as well as to independent cinemas. Recent Eros successes screened in the UK include Baghban, Chalte Chalte and
  • Cannes firms up closing weekend changes

    The Cannes Film Festival has announced its schedule for the closing weekend of May 22 and 23.As previously reported, the awards ceremony will be moved from its traditional slot on Sunday to Saturday evening.Following the prizes, a premiere screening will be held although it is not yet known what the film will be.A fireworks show will be put on to usher in the awards party which will end with a live concert. Again, the identity of the act is a secret for now.Screeni
  • Cannes to open with Almodovar's Bad Education

    Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education (La Mala Educacion) will open the 57th Cannes Film Festival on May 12,the event's organisers announced on Friday.At an impromptu press conference called at the Madrid officeof El Deseo on the same day, Almodovar confirmed that he did not plan tocompete with Bad Education at Cannes."In terms of going to Cannes, this is the best way togo," the director said. "I love the idea of walking up the redcarpet with these actors and seeing the
  • Cheaper By The Dozen adds $4.3m from 11 markets for Fox

    Fired by a second place $1.5m opening on 250 screens in Spain CheaperBy The Dozen added $4.3mfrom 994 screens in 11 markets at the weekend to raise its internationalrunning total to $27.1m.
  • Code 46 set for UK premiere at Birmingham fest

    Michael Winterbottom's Code 46 will receive its UK premiere as the closing night film of this year's Birmingham Screen Festival.The event opens on March 4 with the UK Premiere screening of Woody Allen's Anything Else.The festival's line-up includes films from directors such as Julio Medem (Basque Ball); Martin Scorsese (The Blues - I Feel Like Going Home); Mike Figgis (The Blues - Red White and Blue); Hector Babenco (Carandiru); Robert A
  • Countdown to $1bn: King is now number two

    The Lord OfThe Rings: The Return Of The King has overtaken Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone to become the second highest worldwidegrossing picture of all time behind Titanic.Figuresyesterday (Wednesday) from New Line International (NLI) put Peter Jackson'strilogy finale on $981.9m. This comprises $624.2m in international and $357.7min domestic ticket sales and passes the $975.8m mark set by Harry Potter, which Warner Bros released in 2001.Tita
  • Czech producers battle against the odds

    For full Czech listings click HEREFollowing 2003's banner year for local cinema, Czech producers are looking out for another winner. But with the usual local sources of film funds drying up and with a slate of upcoming releases that includes only a few of the most famous Czech directors, the Czech Republic is unlikely to produce a local blockbuster of the order of last year's Pupendo, the runaway succ
  • CZECH REPUBLIC Production Lists - Febuary 25 2004

    IN PRE-PRODUCTIONTHE BEST FILMS OF OUR LIVES (NEJLEPSI FILMY NASEHO ZIVOTA)(Negativ) Black comedy. A Tajik emigre comes to the US to show a stolen film at a film festival, an American crook is disowned by his daughter for acting in a porn movie when he was young, and two Japanese men decide to die the same death as the heroes of Easy Rider. Prod: Pavel Strnad. Dir: Petr Zelenka. Scr: Petr Zelenka. Shooting in 2005.Contact: Pavel Strnad, Negativ, (420) 224 933 472
  • Dates staves off four wide new openers

    Despite four new entries in the top 10 none was strong enough tochallenge Columbia's 50 First Dates, which held on to number one in its second week on $21m for a$72.3m running total.

    Though dropping some 54% Brother Bear stayed on top of the Danish box-office chart, while the veterans in Something's Gotta Give managed to squeeze in front of The Last Samurai to the second spot with this weekend's best screen average, almost twice that of the animated hit.However, this week's two other new releases failed to live up to that despite their relatively high number of prints. Thus The Haunted Mansion opened fifth taking 9,199 admissions on 25 p
  • Depp is surprise SAG winner for Pirates

    In a surprise turn attonight's Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, Johnny Depp won the prizefor best film actor for his comic performance in Pirates Of The Caribbean:The Curse Of The Black Pearl,defeating frontrunners Bill Murray and Sean Penn.The upset adds an element ofintrigue to next Sunday's Academy Awards race which so far looks like it willhold few surprises as The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King is expected to win in picture and directorcategories
  • Diagonale festival unveils Austrian premeries

    Pjer Zalica's Silver Leopard-winner Fuse (Gori Vatra), the documentaries Virtual Borders by Manu Luksch, Accordion Tribe by Stefan Schwietert, Fucking Freedom by Chris Krikellis and the avantgarde film WAR by Thomas Steiner are among 66 Austrian premieres at this year's Diagonale - Festival of Austrian Cinema in Graz which will be opened on March 3 by Goetz Spielmann's new feature Antares.In addition to being a showcase of national production,
  • EasyCinema drafts in veteran exhibitor as CEO

    Exhibition veteran Charles Wesoky has been appointed chief executive of no-frills UK exhibitor EasyCinema.Wesoky's appointment is part of a move by EasyCinema to win over film distributors, many of which have cold-shouldered the exhibitor by refusing to supply it with first run films.Wesoky was chairman and CEO of London-based EuroPlex Cinemas, which has screens in Switzerland, Italy and Greece. He joined EasyCinema on Feb 1, and will remain chairman of EuroPlex's supervisory bo
  • FCC commissioner Copps booked in for AFMA breakfast

    FederalCommunications Commissioner Michael J Copps will attend an AFMA membersbreakfast to discuss US media consolidation at the Le Merigot Hotel in SantaMonica on Feb 26.Copps is one ofthe FCC's most outspoken opponents of consolidation and launched an impassionedstand during the FCC's 2001-2003 policy review hearings that resulted in looserlaws governing broadcasting market share."There has been a steady erosion of opportunities forindependents in the United
  • Film Bridge strikes three-picture deal with Philippe Mora

    Santa Monica-based financingand sales outfit Film Bridge International has signed a three-picture deal withproducer-director Philippe Mora for When We Were Modern, Strange Matters and Hamlet Unzipped.When We Were Modern is due to shoot later this spring In Australia and Londonand tells the story of the Australian painter Sidney Nolan who escaped from a notoriousmenage a trois in Melbourne to become one of the Queen's favourite beknightedartists.Jennifer Jaso
  • Focus closes key sales on Synergy, Seed Of Chucky

    Focus Features has closed a score of deals on two key titles inthe run-up to the American Film Market, which starts today in Santa Monica.
  • Focus closes key sales on Synergy, Seed Of Chucky.

    Focus Features has closed a score of deals on two key titles inthe run-up to the American Film Market, which starts today in Santa Monica.
  • Fortissimo handles third Eye

    Fortissimo Films has acquired worldwide sales rights to The Eye- Infinity, the thirdinstalment in the wildly popular Asian horror series.The third film, just like the first two, will be directed bybrothers Danny and Oxide Pang and is set to start shooting this spring fordelivery in early 2005.The Eye 2is set for release in Asia in March 2004 and will roll out in the rest of theworld during summer and the second half of the year.The Eye - Infinity is s
  • Fortissimo orders up Super Size Me

    Fortissimo Filmshas acquired all international rights to Morgan Spurlock's hit Sundancedocumentary Super Size Me and will represent the picture at next week's AFM."We are thrilledto be working with this creative and talented new director to bring SuperSize Me to the world,"Fortissimo co-chairman Michael J Werner said in a statement."Morgan Spurlockhas created an important, eye-opening film that will also be a crowd pleaser atfestivals and cinemas around the world."

    A smash in its first week out, Podium cracked the one million admissions mark to earn over $8m on 554 screens. The film, which stars Benoit Poelvoorde, handily beat out the Jan Kounen directed Blueberry which opened in fourth place.The comic book adaptation from producer Thomas Langmann was a disappointment both at the box office and with audiences and critics. With a roughly Euros 40m budget, the film will have a hard time making its money back as projections are that it
  • French wine flows into production sector

    French wine producers have begun actively sponsoring French production in return for their wines being prominently displayed in films.The next work from Claude Lelouch, Les Parisiens - the first part of a trilogy called Le Genre Humaine - benefited from a sponsorship deal with the Conseil Interprofessionnel Des Vins d'Alsace (CIVA).CIVA paid Euros 30,000 in return for four scenes where Alsace wines are prominently displayed.While product placement is old hat
  • Frustration mounts as producers await tax decision

    Producerswere forced to wait another day yesterday to hear if any transition arrangementswere to be made for films hit by last week's UK tax clamp down.Despitemany industry insiders being hopeful of news as early as Wednesday, sourcesclose to talks with the government said on Thursday that it was still"too close to call".The lack ofa decision is causing mounting frustration amongst producers already spendingmoney in pre-production. Amongst those on a critical list submitted to t

    Despite an 18% drop in box office over the previous weekend, Warner's Something's Gotta Give held on to the top spot against two new entries and also posted the Top 15's highest screen average with $5,364 from its 622 screens.Cold Mountain, which was the opening film at this year's Berlinale, sidled in at No 2 with a screen average of only $ 2,748 from 477 prints, followed by Michael Keusch's screen version of the video game Autobahnraser with $2,567 from each of i
  • Gibson's Passion earns 18 certificate from UK censor

    Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ has received an 18 certificate from UK censor, the British Board Of Film Classification.The censor ruled that the film, which is expected to open through Icon Film Distribution on March 26, "contains extended scenes of strong violence."A spokeswoman for the BBFC cited an extended scene in which Jesus was "viscously whipped with flesh flying about and large amounts of blood" and the whole sequence of the crucifixion itself.Such
  • Gosling named male star of tomorrow at ShoWest

    Ryan Gosling has been namedShoWest 2004 male star of tomorrow and will collect his award once the industryconvention kicks off in Las Vegas on Mar 22.
  • Grosvenor Films turns to EIS scheme for Messages

    Grosvenor Films, a new UK production company, aims to raise up to £2m through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), a tax-based funding mechanism unaffected by this month's clamp down.The cash raised is to finance supernatural thriller Messages, which is scheduled to begin shooting this year at Ealing Studios. Grosvenor Films is hoping that EIS schemes will be increasingly attractive for investors following this month's closure of the First Choice and Inside Track funds.
  • HBO Films starts shooting Rwanda drama in Rwanda

    Production isunderway in Rwanda on HBO Films' ...Sometimes In April, which stars Debra Winger as a USofficial during the Rwandan genocide of the mid-1990s.The US-Frenchco-production between HBO Films and Cinefacto is being directed by Raoul Peck (Lumumba), who also wrote the screenplay andserves as co-executive producer along with Joel Stillerman. Sam Martin is theHBO executive in charge of production.Set in 1994 andpresent-day, the picture stars Winger as an inter

    Even though both UIP-Duna Film's new release, Paycheck and InterCom's Farrelly offering, Stuck on You had decent openings at the Hungarian box office with over 14,000 and 12,000 admissions respectively, the momentum still belongs to Gabor Herendi's Hungarian Vagabond (Magyar vandor) which in just under three weeks has passed the magical 200,000 admissions mark.SPI's MIX which had its initial premiére at the Hungarian Film Week performed strongly due to
  • Infernal Affairs star backs gangster thriller

    Andy Lau's Focus Films is co-financing a $5m (HK$40m) gangster thriller, Jiang Hu, which combines a stellar cast with one of Hong Kong's most promising new directors.The film, which started shooting earlier this month, reunites many stars from recent Hong Kong blockbuster Infernal Affairs including Lau himself, Eric Tsang, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue and Lam Ka-tung. In addition, Jacky Cheung (July Rhapsody) and mainland newcomers Xiao Hai and Lin Yao have joined the ca
  • Irreversible clears Singapore censors uncut

    Signalling that Singapore may be easing its strict film censorship stance, Gaspar Noe's controversial drama Irreversible has been cleared for an uncensored release in Singapore cinemas.The country's Film Appeals Committee overruled the Board of Film Censors' earlier decision to screen the film with some cuts.Committee chairman Pang Cheng Lian was quoted as saying that 'we should provide Singaporean movie-goers with greater choices as the country moves ahead', but she adde

    Popular Italian actor-director Carlo Verdone's latest film, Love Is Eternal For As Long As It Lasts (L'Amore E Eterno Finch Dura) opened at number two at the Italian box office, grossing a strong $2,529,564. Released by Medusa Film on a wide 335 screens, the picture registered an impressive screen average of $7,551.The film, which focuses on couples of 40 and 50 year-olds who are torn between the need for stability and the desire for new emotions, also marks the first pic
  • Italy's Cinecitta launches acting academy

    Rome's Cinecitta Studios has announced that it is setting up an Actors Studio-type academy for professional and emerging Italian talent.Named Campus, the 1000 square metre structure will be located inside the studios and will focus on theatre, cinema, TV, music and dance. It will kick off its activities in mid-March, and will also mark the first time in 70 years that Cinecitta opens its doors to the general public.The academy will host courses, experimental labs, shows and premi

    Love Actually opened the strongest of the four new entries on the nine-major-cities chart, with a screen average of $56,684 on 17 screens. Also drawing audiences was Red Moon, a drama set in Manchuria at the end of World War II. TV drama diva Takako Tokiwa stars as a Scarlett O'Hara-like woman trying to survive and rebuild her life in the aftermath of Japan's defeat. Trailing far behind was Out Of This World, Junji Sakamoto's drama about Japanese jazzmen playing for Ameri
  • John Malcolm enlisted to head MPAA's worldwide anti-piracy ops

    John G Malcolm, a former Department of Justice deputy assistantAttorney-General, has been named senior vice president and director ofworldwide anti-piracy operations at the Motion Picture Association of America(MPAA).
  • Kal Ho Na Ho dances off with eight Indian Oscars

    Nikhil Advani's debut film Kal Ho Na Ho has emerged as the main winner at India's Oscar equivalent, the 49th Filmfare awards.The film, which was screened in the International Forum of New Cinema section at this month's Berlin Film Festival, won eight awards including best actress for Preity Zinta, best supporting actor for Saif Ali Khan and best supporting actress for Jaya Bachchan.The film won the best music direction award for Shankar-Ehsan-Loy and the best lyrics award
  • Kinowelt revives broadcasting ambitions

    Germany's Kinowelt has revived its ambitions to become a player in the German broadcasting arena with plans for a free-TV niche film channel for nationwide distribution.Kinowelt Television has been granted a broadcasting licence by the Kassel-based media watchdog LPR Hessen subject to a final green light from the assembly of regional media watchdogs DLM and the KEK watchdog. Frankfurt-based Kinowelt Television is a 50-50 joint venture between Michael Koelmel's investment company MK Me
  • Lightning acquires teen horror Dead Scared

    LosAngeles-based sales and distribution outfit Lightning Entertainment hasacquired international rights to Honey Creek Pictures' first feature production,the teen horror picture Dead Scared.Dead Scared will get a world premiere screening atthe AFM and centres on five college children trapped in a haunted mansion whoeach become possessed by a demonic spirit.It stars BradDourif (The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers), Parry Shen (Better
  • Love's Brother

    Dir: Jan Sardi. Australia/UK. 2004. 90 minsJan Sardi's screenplay for the gritty biopic Shine was nominated for all the major international awards in 1997. Now he makes his directorial debut with this lightweight romantic fable from a self-penned screenplay which could have done with a tougher editor. Sardi's stretched story is set in a well rendered 1957, mainly in picturesque rural Victoria but with impressive visits to a magnificently unspoiled hilltop Italian villa
  • Manga sues Miramax over Kill Bill, Miramax countersues

    Twoweeks before the scheduled March 5 opening of Kill Bill Vol I in Spain through BVI, Spanish distributor MangaFilms last week filed a suit against Miramax Films in a Barcelona courtclaiming non-completion of a distribution agreement for both Vol I and Vol II.
  • Medem's Basque Ball sparks UK festival funding row

    The Spanish government's Instituto Cervanteshas pulled its contribution of funding to the Viva Spanish Film Festival ofManchester (March 18-28), ostensibly over the inclusion of Julio Medem'scontroversial documentary The Basque Ball: Skin Against Stone in this year's line-up.The documentary, a flash of 70 interviewsaddressing the emotionally-charged issues of nationalist identity and terrorismin Spain's Basque region, has been at the centre of a storm ofcontroversy since its wor
  • Mercier re-appointed as Directors' Fortnight scout

    Chris Mercier has been appointed as the scout for English-language territories for Cannes' Directors' Fortnight sidebar (Quinzaine Des Realisateurs) for the second year.The announcement was made by Olivier Pere, the Fortnight's new artistic director, who said: "we are dedicated to discovering new talents and to supporting an eclectic range of features from innovative film-makers."The British Council will work with Mercier to source English-language films from the UK, Ireland, So
  • MIFED unveils AFM counter-offensive

    Launching an all-out counter-offensive against the AFM, MIFED has announced that it is officially moving its dates forward by three weeks, and will now host the 71st edition of the Milan market from October 12 - 16, 2004.AFM, which kicks off today, is holding a second market this year, from Nov 3 - 10, before moving permanently to a November slot in 2005 in an effort to force a more limited calendar and knock out MIFED from the annual timetable. (In 1991, AFM also moved its dates to M
  • Mountain set for four major openings including Germany, Mexico

    Milestones will be reached this weekend in the internationalmarkets as The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King will pass $1bn in worldwide ticketsales, while The Last Samurai is expected to slice through $300m in international and Something'sGotta Give should racepast $50m.
  • MPAA hails court order blocking DVD copying software from 321

    Motion Picture Associationof America (MPAA) chief Jack Valenti has hailed a court order blocking UScompany 321 Studios from making, distributing or selling its DVD-copyingsoftware.The Burbank-based MPAA, aninfluential congressional lobbyist that represents the global interests of theUS majors and other affiliates, sought legal action in keeping with itspro-copyright philosophy.Judge Susan Illston of NewYork's Southern District Court granted the studios motion for summary judgmen

    Until recently, family-films and especially those based on children's books, seemed a sure-fire success for Dutch cinemas.However, the disappointing opening results of the Belgian-Dutch coproduction Suske And Wiske: The Dark Diamond, with a meagre screen-average of Euros 465 came as a nasty surprise for distributor Independent Films.The company expected the source material, a popular Belgian comic book series that has run since 1945 with 282 episodes to date, would attrac
  • New fantasy trilogy emerges from four-company indie partnership

    Franchise Pictures is partnering with Story Island Entertainment,Origin Entertainment (which will operate under the new banner of CanyonlightEntertainment), and Entertainment Business Group (EBG) on production of the$80m fantasy franchise The Runelords.
  • New Films International makes first international acquisitions led by Grand Theft

    Hot on the heelsof launching its film production and sales division at Sundance, New FilmsInternational has acquired worldwide rights excluding North America to GrandTheft Parsons, Easy 6and Undermind.David Caffrey's GrandTheft Parsons screenedat Sundance and stars Christina Applegate and Johnny Knoxville in a true-lifeaccount of the theft of country-rock singer Gram Parsons' body by his managerPhil Kaufman.Chris Iovenko's Easy6 st
  • New Films Int'l acquires Holedigger duo

    New Films International, the recently launched worldwideproduction and sales arm of the eight year-old distribution outfit, has signeda two-picture deal with Holedigger Films to handle international sales on Marie& Bruce and OffThe Map.Both films were produced by Holedigger. Marie And Bruce, which premiered at the Sundance FilmFestival last month, stars Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick, while OffThe Map, which premieredat Sundance 2003, stars Joan Allen
  • New indie collectives preach cost efficiencies

    Is small beautiful' Certainly not was the verdict of the panellists on "Collective Power: Buying and Selling Alliances," speaking this month at Screen International's Modernising European Cinema Summit at the Berlin Film Festival - all of whom are involved in the new wave of indie-combos set up across Europe in recent years.Indie Circle, the five-partner Pan-European distribution outfit launched two years ago, is currently releasing its first title, the Golden Globe winning Osama
  • Oscar nominee Watanabe is the latest addition to Batman cast

    Ken Watanabe hasjoined the cast of Christopher Nolan's Batman project, which is due to begin shootingin London in March and will be released by Warner Bros in 2005.Watanabe, who garnered a best supporting actor Oscarnomination for his role in The Last Samurai,will play the villainous Ra's Al Ghul opposite Christian Bale as BruceWayne/Batman.The picture willexplore the origins of Batman and also stars Michael Caine as Wayne's butlerAlfred, Katie Ho
  • Oz popstar signs for lead role in Hating Alison Ashley

    Australian pop princess and former Neighbours star Delta Goodrem has made a move into movies by accepting the title role of Hating Alison Ashley, which goes into production in the first half of this year in Melbourne."I have been offered quite a few roles over the past two years and whilst the timing for this movie is not ideal, I really felt a strong desire to accept the part of Alison Ashley because I adore the book," Goodrem said in a statement released today.He
  • Oz's Accent takes My Flesh from Films Transit

    Fledgling Australian distributor Accent Film Entertainment has struck a deal with Films Transit International for Australian rights to Jonathan Karsh's My Flesh And Blood.The film about a woman and her 11 adopted children, all of whom have various disabilities and special needs, won an audience award last year at Sundance and was one of 12 films shortlisted in the documentary category for a 2004 Academy Award.Accent emerged in December and is a joint venture between gener
  • Polly opens top in Brazil for Universal

    Universal's Along Came Polly opened top in Brazil through UIP at the weekend on anestimated $300,000 from 144 sites. The romantic comedy has grossed $8.2m fromAustralia, Brazil, Portugal, Singapore and Thailand and has a further 45countries to open.
  • Potato Men digs its way out of critical mauling

    Despite some of the most negative reviews ever experienced by a film in the UK, Entertainment Film Distributor's comedy Sex Lives Of The Potato Men escaped a complete mauling at the box office over the weekend.The 18-certificate comedy managed an okay $663,785 (£355,125) from its 233 locations - placing it ninth in the UK top 20.The result is likely thanks to the popularity of the two stars on whom it was sold - comedian Johnny Vegas and Mackenzie Crook, who had a starrin
  • Quinn leaves Goldwyn for Magnolia

    Tom Quinn isleaving his post as vice president of acquisitions at Samuel Goldwyn Films tohead up a more aggressive acquisitions effort at Magnolia Pictures.Effectiveimmediately, Quinn will represent the company at the AFM and will beresponsible for the day-to-day responsibilities of acquisitions, workingalongside Jeff Reichert (marketing and publicity) and John McCarron(distribution). He will report directly to Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles."This is anexciting opportunity for
  • Renaissance takes the world on Cattaneo's third film

    London-based financing andsales outfit Renaissance Films has acquired worldwide sales rights from theUK's Academy Features to Poppy And Dingan, the third film by British director Peter Cattaneo after The FullMonty and Lucky Break.Renaissance will bepre-selling the film at next week's AFM. Casting is now underway, withprincipal photography set to start in July in Australia.A rites-of-passage story setin the Australian outback, Poppy And Dingan is based
  • Richard Propper elected new president of IDA

    Richard Propper, the founder and chief of documentary licensingfirm Solid Entertainment, has been elected president of the InternationalDocumentary Association (IDA).
  • Rings prove precious to Svensk Filmindustri

    Strong earnings from its film division helped Swedish media major Bonnier AB - owner of Scandinavia's largest film company Svensk Filmindustri (SF) - post a net profit of $140m (SEK 1,011m) in 2003.SF distributes The Lord Of The Rings films, which helped its parent company's entertainment division achieve record profits. Sales rose by 5 percent and operating profit more than doubled to $57m."SF's success with the Lord of the Rings movies throughout the Nordic Region is a

    New Hollywood comedies, the Farrelly brothers' Stuck On You and David Zucker's My Boss's Daughter were no match at the Romanian box office for The Last Samurai which, released on an impressive fifteen copies, still managed nearly 12,000 admissions in its second week.Local film production and distribution company, Media Pro Pictures released new local production Alone Versus Myself (Dulcea Sauna A Mortii) into tenth position.Directed by Andrei Blaier,
  • Russian exhibitor wins Euro backing for five multiplexes

    Russian exhibitor, Rising Star Media, a joint venture between exhibition giant National Amusements and Soquel Ventures headed by American Paul Heth, has secured a $27.5m loan to build five new multiplexes in Russia.The seven year loan was provided by The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Raiffenfeisenbank Zentralbank Osterreich. It is the first time the EBRD has backed an exhibition project in Russia.Rising Star opened Russia's largest multiplex last year, an
  • Samurai soars with new grand total of $310m for Warner

    Warner Bros' The Last Samurai added an estimated $8.4m with 1.4madmissions from 3,361 screens in 57 territories at the weekend for a $310.6minternational running total.

    The Last Samurai continues to dominate the Serbian-Montegrin box office, having sold another 10,576 tickets in its third weekend and has now grossed a total of $241,643.Tuck also released Gothika which attracted 6,265 tickets and total gross of $22,480. The Halle Berry vehicle pushed Love Actually down a position and it now holds third place with cumulative $46,342 for the new distributor Cinears.This year's worldwide hit The Return Of The King has fa
  • Sharif, Chaplin in line for Spanish honours

    Omar Sharif and Geraldine Chaplin will travel to Spain to receive honorary lifetime achievement awards at the upcoming Las Palmas International Film Festival and the Spanish Film Festival of Malaga, respectively.Las Palmas, which celebrates its 5th annual edition March 12-20, will bestow its Lady Harimaguada prize to the Egyptian-born actor at its opening ceremony. The veteran Sharif has earned kudos recently for his role as an Arab deli owner who befriends a young Jewish boy in Franco
  • Shochiku crosses swords again with Yamada

    Shochiku is to produce andsell Kakushi Ken Oni No Tsume,the next picture by Yoji Yamada, director of this year's foreign language Oscarnominee Twilight Samurai.Production begins this month with the Japanese release scheduled for the autumn.The picture is anotherperiod Samurai drama that includes a love story that transcends class barriers.It is set in the Edo era when western influence was rapidly changing Japan. Thescreenplay, adapted from the Hidden Sword
  • Showcase adds Dorm Daze, Italian Husband to AFM slate

    Showcase Entertainment has secured international distributionrights to the comedies National Lampoon's Dorm Daze and Our Italian Husband in addition to worldwide rights to thrillerPuerto Vallarta Squeeze,as previously announced.
  • Silmido

    Dir: Kang Woo-suk. South Korea. 2003. 133 minsIf Quentin Tarantino ever gets around to his men on a mission flick, he could do worse than cast an eye over Silmido. Kang woo-suk's muscular tale of Death Row desperados combines brawn and brain to compelling effect. The political complexities of a true story from South Korea's recent past might not resonate with international action audiences but the film should still travel. There's enough Jerry Bruckheimer-style bombast
  • Stanton to get ShoWest award for animation director

    Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton has been named ShoWest 2004Animation Director of the Year and will collect his honour during the event,which runs in Las Vegas from Mar 22-25."To think that Nemo, Marlinand Dory were first introduced to the industry at ShoWest 2003 when Disney andPixar screened Finding Nemo isvery exciting," Mitch Neuhauser, co-managing director of ShoWest 2004, said ina statement."The world that AndrewStanton and his Pixar t

    Due to its massive number of prints Disney's Brother Bear managed to stay on top of the Swedish chart this week in front of the new release of Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, despite the latter serving a better screen average on its 83 prints.Impressively the local coming of age drama, The Ketchup Effect (Hip Hip Hora!), again moved up the chart in its fourth week, while the local action-thriller The Threat dropped to fourth despite its higher number of prints.
  • Sylvain Chomet does tartan jig

    Oscar-nominated animator Sylvain Chomet is reported to be considering establishing a base in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.Chomet, an Oscar contender for The Triplets Of Belleville, will be working with Four Way Pictures, the Scottish company established by Robert Carlyle, Antonia Bird, Irvine Welsh and Mark Cousins.The Triplets Of Belleville received its UK premiere at the 2003 Edinburgh International Film Festival where Chomet met representatives of the compa
  • Tartan checks into the US

    Tartan Films, Hamish McAlpine's UK distribution and production company, is launching a DVD-driven US arm called Tartan USA.McAlpine and Alan Partington, CEO of the group's home entertainment division, are already in Los Angeles setting up the US video operation and meeting video sales and distribution companies.The company will echo the UK operation and will consist of three labels: Tartan Video, Tartan Terror and Asia Extreme.McAlpine and Laura De Casto, CEO of the UK t
  • Tartan Films gets UK rights to My Architect from Film Sales Co

    Tartan Films has picked up all rights in the UK and Ireland toNathaniel Kahn's Oscar-nominated documentary My Architect from The Film Sales Company.
  • The Passion Of The Christ

    Dir: Mel Gibson. US. 2004. 127 mins.It has become difficult to think about The Passion Of The Christ without being influenced by the storm of passion it has stirred up over the last six months, and some of the questions raised. Is it an act of hubris on the part of Mel Gibson' Is it anti-semitic' Is it a dangerous tool designed to incite hatred' Is it a monumental error of judgement of the politically sensitive times we live in' Well the film is finally here to assess
  • The Return Of The King passes $1bn at the box office

    Finally, after weeks of anticipation, The Lord Of The Rings:The Return Of The Kingofficially passed $1bn in worldwide ticket sales at the weekend.
  • THINKFilm acquires Sundance winner

    THINKFilm has picked up all North American rights to ShaneCarruth's micro-budget thriller Primer, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's SundanceFilm Festival.Carruth wrote, directed, produced and starred in the picture,which centres on the discovery by two men of a device that enables them to doanything they want. Newcomer David Sullivan also stars."Primer is a mind-blowing experience that both celebrates andreinvents the sci-fi genre," THINKFilm's theatric
  • Translation, Splendor take top screenplay prizes from WGA

    Sofia Coppola won best original screenplay for Lost InTranslation and ShariSpringer Berman and Robert Pulcini took adapted honours for AmericanSplendor in the 56thAnnual Writers Guild Awards at the weekend.
  • Tykwer's Perfume noses its way to Summit

    Patrick Wachsberger's salespowerhouse Summit Entertainment has lined up a slate of five high profile newpictures for buyers at AFM headed by Tom Tykwer's film adapatation of PatrickSuskind's bestselling 1985 German novel Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer.Summit is selling allinternational rights to the English-language movie which is being produced byBernd Eichinger's Constantin Film and which continues a long relationshipbetween Summit and Eichinger which started when Eichinger
  • UK government lambasts 'abusive' film financing schemes

    Facing a PR backlash over its changes to tax rules this month, the UK government has sought to justify the move by saying that financiers were drawing up "abusive" schemes "at the expense of honest taxpayers."Although the threatened collapse of major productions such as The Libertine, Man To Man and Tulip Fever has generated plenty of negative headlines, an Inland Revenue statement on Monday said that government tax reliefs were "generous" and would continue to be so.
  • UK launches post-production trade body

    Industry veteran Mike Luckwell has been appointed chairman of the new association charged with representing the UK's post-production sector at home and internationally.The new post-production trade body will initially be jointly financed by the DTI, UK Film Council and companies from the post-production community.An open meeting will be held with post-production companies at BAFTA in London on 4 March 2004 at 6.30pm to outline the aims and objectives of the new association and t

    The second (and final) weekend of the February school half-term holiday inevitably proved a boost for children's and family fare. The Haunted Mansion slipped just 7% from its opening weekend, while excluding previews. Cheaper By The Dozen (23%), Looney Tunes: Back In Action (57%) and Tooth (81%) all saw rises week-on-week against their launches.The most impressive performance of the weekend came from the four-screen release of Turkish title Vizontele Tuub
  • UK's Entertainment sees profits leap on back of Rings

    The UK's Entertainment Film Distributors has seen its post tax profits leap almost threefold to $61.5m (£32.6m) in the year to March 31, 2003, according to recent documents filed at official UK business registry, Companies House.The $61.5m figure compares to a post-tax profit of $24.5 for the year to March 31 2002.Entertainment's turnover soared to $237.3m from $147.8m the year before. Operating profit stood at $86m compared to $34.1m.The profits would have been fuelled b
  • UK's Optimum launches stand-alone DVD arm

    Independent distributor Optimum Releasing is launching a stand-alone DVD arm under the banner of Optimum Home Entertainment.Stuart Henderson, previously at VCI, joins as the company as marketing manager: home entertainment as the first appointment to the division. Sales for the new label will be handled by Elevation Sales, with a team headed by Graham Davidson.Bracketing product in strands such as Optimum Classics, Optimum World and Optimum Asia, the unit will handle current Opt
  • Void sets British box office record as biggest ever doc

    Kevin Macdonald's Touching The Void has overtaken Bowling For Columbine as the highest grossing documentary in UK box office history.Released by Pathe Distribution on December 12, and now in its eleventh week in cinemas, the Bafta winning film has so far taken $3.17m (£1.68m). By comparison, Bowling For Columbine took $3.15m in 2002.Pathe expects the documentary to gross over $3.8m (£2m).Other top documentaries at UK theatres include 1991's In Bed
  • Working Title launches training scheme

    Working Title Films is launching a nation-wide search for three trainees who will work for a year at the UK's leading film company.The scheme, titled Action, aims to cut through film industry nepotism by providing a route into film for people without personal connections in the sector.Instead, the company, whose credits include Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill and the upcoming Thunderbirds, will pay a year's bursary of around £12,000 to three people with a prove
  • Your Next Life (La Vida Que Tu Espera)

    Dir: Manuel Guttierez Aragon. Spain. 2004. 110 mins.It's doubtful that audiences can recall seeing so many cows in a single film since O Brother, Where Art Thou' The ruminants in veteran director Gutierrez Aragon's 15th feature don't get machine-gunned like their cousins in the Coen brothers' Odyssey-caper, though one does get used as a shield by an escaping murder suspect at one point. Cows apart, this rural comedy-romance-thriller set in the remote Pas valley is supe