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25 September 2000

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  • Almost Famous

    Dir: Cameron Crowe. US. 2000. 121 mins.Prod co: Vinyl Films, DreamWorks Pictures. US dist: DreamWorks. Int'l dist: Columbia TriStar. Prods: Cameron Crowe, Ian Bryce. Scr: Crowe. DoP: John Toll. Art dirs: Clay A Griffith, Clayton R Hartley. Eds: Joe Hutshing, Saar Klein. Mus: Nancy Wilson, Danny Bramson. Main cast: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Zooey Deschanel, Noah Taylor, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour HoffmanCameron C
  • Bailiffs move in on Russian media group Media Most

    Bailiffs moved on Friday to freeze the shares of Media Most Group, Russia's sole independent media empire, after talks between the troubled group and its major creditor, the state-controlled gas concern Gazprom, broke down.The move came after a court order was granted to Gazprom's media arm, Gazprom-Media, which is trying to recoup debts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Media Most head Vladimir Guzinsky refused to honour a deal struck in July whereby he was to hand over the compa
  • Beautiful

    Dir: Sally Field. US. 2000. 112 mins.Prod co: Beautiful Productions. Int'l Sales: Cathy Morgan International (310) 979 9100. Prods: John Bertolli, B.J. Rack. Exec prods: Richard Vane, Kate Driver, Wendy Japhet, Barry London, Brent Baum, Steve Sabler, Marty Fink, David Forrest, Beau Rogers. Co-prods: Mark Morgan, Jon Bernstein, Jade Ramsey. Scr: Jon Bernstein. DoP: Robert Yeoman. Prod Des: Charles Breen. Ed: Debra Neil-Fischer. Mus: John Frizzell. Main cast: Minnie Driver, Hallie Kat
  • Buena Vista Film Sales is closed down

    As anticipated, Buena Vista International (BVI) has closed down its international sales division Buena Vista Film Sales (BVFS) in the wake of the departure of executive vice president of acquisitions and business affairs Jere Hausfater. Very much a Hausfater initiative, BVFS handled such films as The 13th Warrior, He Got Game and Summer Of Sam on behalf of Disney as well as pick-ups such as Beacon Pictures' Family Man and Bruce Paltrow's Duets.In a s
  • Canada's Rogers buys Cable Atlantic for $102m

    Days after bowing out of the battle for Groupe Videotron, Rogers Communications has purchased Newfoundland-based cable outfit Cable Atlantic for $102m.The acquisition raises Rogers' Canada-wide subscriber base to 2.3 million and boosts the company's maritime presence. Cable Atlantic has approximately 75,000 subscribers.Rogers used a chunk of its consolation prize for not securing Videotron to pay for Cable Atlantic. Under the terms of the merger agreement reached by Rogers and V
  • Carlton scores $1m DVD deal with Spain's Filmax

    Carlton International has scored a $1m DVD deal with Spanish distributor Filmax.The 15-year deal provides Filmax with over 100 titles from Carlton's ITC library for distribution on DVD in Spain and Portugal. Classic titles covered by the latest deal include All Quiet On The Western Front, The Big Sleep, The Eagle Has Landed and The Boys From Brazil.The pact follows a 100-title deal with Filmax for Carlton's Rank library. Other DVD deals that Carlton h
  • Catch 23 acquires two Melissa Banks short stories

    Catch 23 Entertainment has announced that it has acquired the film rights to two stories from Melissa Banks' short fiction collection The Girl's Guide To Hunting And Fishing. The stories are The Worst Thing A Suburban Girl Could Imagine and My Old Man, personal favourites of Catch 23 chairman Bob Sturm who brought them into the company for a sum in the low-to-mid six figures.The Girl's Guide To Hunting And Fishing is a set of stories about a contemporary wo
  • Chinese Film Festival kicks off in LA on Monday

    The Chinese Film Festival, an annual showcase of new Chinese cinema presented by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) with the goal of fostering dialogue and cultural exchange between China and the US, kicks off in Los Angeles on Monday (Sept 25) with the US premiere of Zhang Jianya's Crash Landing.Seven films will be screened, then toured to San Francisco (Oct 1) and New York (Oct 4-7). A delegation of Chinese representatives including film-makers and government officials will
  • Civilian in talks to up stake in The Sales Co

    Civilian Content, owner of UK National Lottery studio franchise The Film Consortium, is continuing talks about raising its stake in international sales outfit The Sales Co, despite last week's resignation of highly-regarded Sales Co chief executive Alison Thompson.While Thompson's departure to join Pathe's London arm will no doubt lower the sales operation's value, Civilian managing director Richard Holmes said he is "still keen to develop the future of The Sales Co". Civilian has long
  • Dennis O'Connor joins Universal Focus as vp

    Dennis O'Connor, who was previously senior vice president, specialised theatrical, at Trimark Pictures, has joined Universal Focus, the studio's fledgeling specialised division, as vice president, distribution.Reporting to Nikki Rocco, president of distribution at Universal Pictures, and Paul Hardart, senior vice president at Universal Focus, he will handle the distribution of Universal Focus' release slate.At Trimark, which is in the process of being acquired by Lions Gate En
  • EC extends deadline on Vivendi-Seagram probe

    The European Commission (EC) has extended its deadline for examining the proposed Vivendi-Canal Plus takeover of Seagram. "They've offered us concessions and so we've extended the deadline (to rule) from October 2 to October 13," said EC spokeswoman Amelia Torres.The proposed creation of the $40bn Vivendi Universal group has already been cleared by authorities in the US, Canada and France. But it is the subject of a full four month investigation by the EC on anti-trust issues.
  • Erin Austin promoted to senior vp at Artisan

    Artisan Entertainment has promoted Erin Austin to the post of senior vice president, business and legal affairs. In addition to her current responsibilities for supervising business and legal affairs with respect to the company's theatrical productions, Austin will expand her role to include responsibility for Artisan's TV productions and Artisan's new internet investment vehicle.She was previously Artisan's vice president, business and legal affairs. She has overseen a number of thea
  • Europe ready to block AOL and EMI deals

    The European Commission (EC) is proposing to reject America Online (AOL)'s $113bn takeover of Time Warner (TW), having already warned that it is likely to ban the related merger of TW and EMI. The EC has apparently drafted a preliminary rejection of the AOL-TW deal citing concerns over vertical integration in on-line music distribution. The companies now have until Sunday to meet with EC officials and make concessions or amendments. In a statement the EC said: "a negative recommend
  • European players unite in film drive

    As reported in Screen International weekly this morning, the UK's BBC Films, Germany's Kinowelt and Spain's Lolafilms have formed a development and production alliance aimed at creating a European powerhouse that can offer film-makers an alternative to Hollywood.The partners, key film operations in their respective territories, aim for the initial three-year pact to yield a slate of English-language, mainly larger budget films that can cross borders. Projects budgeted up to $12m
  • FilmFour launches money back stunt for Dancer

    In a highly unusual move, FilmFour Distributors is offering UK audiences for Dancer In The Dark their money back if they are unsatisfied. Cinema-goers will be given a full refund if they walk out of the film in its first 30 minutes.The move is the latest step in FilmFour's "see it for yourself" campaign on the Lars von Trier musical. Adverts exhorting audiences to make their own minds up were placed in newspapers to counteract fierce criticism from critics. "If you go to
  • FilmFour seals package deal with Spain's Alta

    FilmFour International, the sales arm of the UK's FilmFour, has closed an all-rights package deal with Spain's Alta Films, the division's first with a Spanish company.Titles in the deal include Alan Taylor's The Emperor's New Clothes, which is currently shooting in Malta and Italy; Werner Herzog's Invincible, starring Tim Roth; and Lucky Break, director Peter Cattaneo's follow-up to The Full Monty. FilmFour previously sold Spanish rights on a title-by-title
  • Germany's VCL buys Denmark's Scanbox

    Datty Ruth's Munich-based media company VCL Film and Medien has acquired 100% of Danish distributor Scanbox Entertainment.The cost of the acquisition, around $2.5m, will be mostly paid in VCL stock, which was valued at $17 per share for the purpose of this deal. Although the deal is subject to the approval of VCL and Scanbox shareholders, who will meet in early October, the four main shareholders have already agreed to the terms and conditions in the agreement. With a market-sha
  • Gilliam, Scott support genre shorts competition

    Terry Gilliam and Ridley Scott have lent their support to a new competition for short films, backed by the Sci-Fi Channel and the First Film Foundation.Sci-Fi Shorts said it is "the first genre-dedicated short film competition to guarantee theatrical distribution". It has teamed up with exhibition chain UCI to ensure that films reach cinema audiences as well as those on TV. Scripts, which must be submitted by Nov 30, will be judged by a jury which includes A Hitchhiker's Guide T
  • Goldberg to emcee BAFTA LA Spielberg tribute

    Whoopi Goldberg will emcee the BAFTA LA 10th Annual Britannia Award presentation to Steven Spielberg to be held in Los Angeles on Nov 4. Spielberg will be honoured with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence In Film.A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Shoah Foundation of which Spielberg is the founder; the event is being sponsored by New Economy business Sapient.Goldberg was directed by Spielberg in 1985 in The Color Purple for which she receive
  • HanWay offers Triumph Of Love

    HanWay Films, the sales arm of producer Jeremy Thomas' UK-based production outfit Recorded Picture Company, has taken up international sales duties on The Triumph Of Love, starring Mira Sorvino and Ben Kingsley.Worldwide distribution rights outside Italy belong to Germany's Odeon Pictures. Medusa has Italy.The adaptation of Marivaux's 18th century play is currently shooting in Tuscany. Clare Peploe directs; Bernardo Bertolucci is producing. The cast also includes Fiona Sh
  • Harris to head UK production at CTIT

    Columbia TriStar International Television (CTIT) in the UK has named production and programming executive Ann Harris to the post of vice president, production.Harris will be responsible for developing and producing original programming by working closely with the UK independent production community. The former managing director for Delta Ventures/Circle Communications has spent the last three years serving as a consultant for Columbia, Channel 4, A&E Television Networks and Southern St
  • Jackie Chan stars in biggest Hong Kong-backed film

    Jackie Chan is to produce and star in The Highbinders - a police action film budgeted at $40m, thought to be the highest amount of Hong Kong capital ever invested in a film.The Asian super-star is partnering with Emperor Movie Group (EMG) rather than his usual Hong Kong financier Golden Harvest on the project, Albert Yeung, chairman of EMG parent Emperor Group Holdings, announced on Wednesday.Yeung sees the partnership with Chan as "our first step in marching into America
  • Jason Cassidy leaves USA Films for Miramax

    Jason Cassidy has been named vice president of marketing at Miramax Films, responsible for marketing films in addition to helping develop the company's internet businesses. He will also serve as the liaison between his department andt he company's internet group.Based in New York, Cassidy will report to David Brooks, executive vice president of marketing and new ventures.Cassidy joins Miramax after five years at October Films and USA Films, most recently as director of marketi
  • Kinowelt confirms submission for $200m loan

    Germany's Kinowelt has confirmed that it has submitted plans for a $200m loan to the Frankfurt stock exchange.Kinowelt's head of finances Eduard Unzeitig said the loan would be used to reduce current commitments to banks and in the long run would help optimise company financing. A report in German newspaper Financial Times Deutschland cited a need for a substantial cash infusion due to slow sales and high US-investments. Kinowelt has been enjoying a successful year so far, with
  • Legends 2, new Exorcist storm US box office

    Although the North American box office was some 21.6% down on the same week last year, at least it picked up on last weekend by about 15% as a result of two new horror movies on the market. Or rather, one new horror movie and one very old horror movie re-released in a new format.Phoenix Pictures' Urban Legends: Final Cut, a sequel to its moderate 1998 hit Urban Legend, took the number one spot with an estimated $8.8m at 2,539 sites - an average of $3,466 per theatre. Columbia P
  • Lions Gate takes over US on The Golden Bowl

    Lions Gate Films has picked up North American rights from Merchant Ivory Productions to James Ivory's The Golden Bowl which was orginally bought at Cannes 1999 by Miramax Films. Miramax announced that the rights had reverted back to Merchant Ivory this week as the two had disagreed over the final cut. Ivory had final cut in his contract, while Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was asking for further cuts to the 134 minute running time. The film was financed by TF1 International.
  • Lola appoints Wagner as marketing director

    Ludwig Wagner has been appointed the marketing director for Spanish producer Lolafilms. Based out of the London office, Wagner will direct the marketing and publicity of all of Lola's films, both Spanish and English-language. He will also assist Lola UK head of sales Nicole Mackey. Wagner is a former independent product executive with South African exhibitor Ster-Kinekor. Forthcoming fall releases out of Lola include Alex de la Iglesia's Common Wealth (La Comunidad
  • London Film Commission appoints Hayes as head

    The London Film Commission (LFC) has appointed Sue Hayes as its commissioner and announced that Richard Attenborough will be its first patron.Hayes worked as a documentary producer in the UK and US and has been director of the Edinburgh International Television Festival. The commission has also appointed Graham Anderson, managing director of Arri Media Film Services, to its board of directors.The appointments come after the commission narrowly escaped closing down earlier this y
  • Maelstrom

    Dir: Denis Villeneuve. Canada. 2000. 88 min.Prod co: Max Films. Int'l sales: Alliance Atlantis International, tel: (1) 310 899 8000. Prods: Roger Frappier, Luc Vandal. Scr: Villeneuve. DoP: Andre Turpin. Prod des: Sylvain Gingras. Ed: Richard Comeau. Music: Pierre Desrochers. Main cast: Marie-Josee Croze, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Stephanie Morgenstern, Pierre Lebeau.A masterful examination of modern morality, Maelstrom plays like the work of a master at the hei
  • Men Of Honor

    Dir: George Tillman Jr. US. 2000. 120mins.Prod Co: Fox 2000 Pictures. Int'l Sales: 20th Century Fox. Prods: Robert Teitel, Bill Badalato. Exec Prods: Bill Cosby, Stanley Robertson. Scr: Scott Marshall Smith. DoP: Anthony B Richmond. Prod des: Leslie Dilley. Ed: John Carter. Mus: Mark Isham. Main cast: Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr, Charlize Theron, Aunjaune Ellis, Hal Holbrook, Michael Rapaport, Powers Boothe, David Keith.An inspirational account of one man's monumental
  • Miramax opens up Italy with Eagle Pictures pact

    Miramax International appears to have found a new Italian outlet for at least some of its higher profile titles, selling three films to fast-growing Eagle Pictures.The Italian production and distribution company is understood to have picked up John Frankenheimer's Reindeer Games; Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp; and Jez Butterworth's Birthday Girl, with Nicole Kidman and Vincent Cassel.Miramax has been dist
  • O Brother wins audiences despite UK fuel crisis

    Despite the UK's fuel crisis and the start of the Olympic Games, cinema-going was not as disrupted as first thought - a relief for several of the weekend's new releases. Although the Top 15 box office tally of $8.4m (£6m) was $1.8m (£1.3m) down on last weekend's Top 15 aggregate, both Scary Movie and Snatch scooped over $1.4m (£1m) at number one and number two in the chart respectively. The latest Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou' opened with an impres
  • Olympic fever impacts Australia's box office

    One week into the Olympics and most Australian cinemas are reporting revenues down by 25-50%, with games venue Sydney being the worst affected. Unseasonably fine spring weather is further exaggerating the fall in business, particularly as it's helping to draw non-sport lovers out of doors.Although the Olympic site is 14 kilometres west of Sydney at Homebush, a lot of outdoor entertainment is focused on the Sydney's central business district - a pivotal cinema market within Australia. "
  • Pathe signs Born Romantic's Camarda to first-look

    Michele Camarda's UK production outfit Kismet Film Company has struck a first-look deal with National Lottery studio franchise Pathe Pictures, Pathe announced on Wednesday.The move comes hard on the heels of Kismet producing David Kane's highly-anticipated UK comedy Born Romantic. The deal replaces New York-born, London-based Camarda's recently-expired first-look pact with BBC Films, which bankrolled Born Romantic."We are delighted to be working with Michele, who i
  • Possible Worlds

    Dir: Robert Lepage. Canada. 2000. 93 min. Prod co: The East Side Film Company, In Extremis Images. Int'l sales: Alliance Atlantis International, tel: (1) 310 899 8000. Prod: Sandra Cunningham, Bruno Jobin. Scr: John Mighton, from his play. DoP: Jonathan Freeman. Ed: Susan Shipton. Prod des: Francois Seguin. Main cast: Tom McCamus, Tilda Swinton, Sean McCann, Rick Miller.Possible Worlds is so serious, so much a left-brain film - the promotional material describes it as a
  • Rio festival firms up hefty line-up

    Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock, Ken Loach's Bread And Roses and Lars von Trier's Dancer In The Dark are amongst the highlights at next month's sprawling Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.Guests expected during the 14-day event include UK director Stephen Daldry, whose debut Billy Elliot will screen, and John Waters, who gets a tribute retrospective. Amongst the 400 films screening in 20 sections are Stephen Frears' High Fidelity, Patrice Lecon
  • Rocket, Walt Disney board Gnome animation feature

    As reported in Screen International weekly this morning, Elton John and David Furnish's production outfit Rocket Pictures and Walt Disney Feature Animation have acquired UK animation script A Gnome's Story. Disney, which has a first-look pact with Rocket, is funding development on the original spec script about two rival groups of garden gnomes living next door to each other. Written by UK writers Rob Sprackling and John Smith, the big-budget project is being fast-tracked
  • Sales Co chief Alison Thompson to join Pathe

    Alison Thompson, chief executive of UK-based international sales operation The Sales Co, is to join Pathe's London arm in the newly-created post of head of sales - Pathe International.Thompson, who has headed the Sales Co for four years, will be responsible for selling all Pathe's English-language films. On arrival, she will have at least three new Pathe titles to sell immediately, including Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, starring Johnny Depp.Also on her
  • San Sebastian festival opens on poignant note

    The 48th edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival got off to a halting start on Thursday night with the cancellation of the traditional party as a protest against the latest assassination by Basque terrorist group ETA.But the opening film of the festival's Official Section, the much-anticipated Common Wealth (La Comunidad) from Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia, was enthusiastically received. Encapsulating the mixture of feelings, Stephen F
  • Sexy Beast

    Hollywood Partners (HP), the Munich-based private film fund, has committed to co-financing and co-producing Walter Hill's Undisputed, starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames and Peter Falk, in return for all foreign rights and certain income rights in the US and Canada.The film, which began shooting at a maximum security prison just outside Las Vegas two weeks ago, is being co-produced with Avi Lerner and Danny Dimbort's Nu Image/Millennium Films alongside Brad Krevoy's MPCA. Nu Ima
  • Sky starts shooting three films over next month

    Sky Pictures, the feature production arm of satellite broadcaster BSkyB, is readying three features to start shooting over the next month, kicking off with Gypsy Woman.The film, scheduled to crank up on September 25, stars The Talented Mr Ripley's Jack Davenport and Neve Mackintosh, whose credits include the recent BBC2 drama Gormenghast. Sheree Folkson will direct.Gypsy Woman is a romantic comedy about the unlikely relationship between a London prope
  • State And Main

    Dir: David Mamet. US. 2000. 106 mins.Prod cos: Green, Renzi Productions, El Dorado Pictures. US dist: Fine Line. Int'l sales: Filmtown International (1) 323 464 6644. Exec prod: Alec Baldwin, Jon Cornick. Prod: Sarah Green. Scr: David Mamet. DoP: Oliver Stapleton. Prod des: Gemma Jackson. Ed: Barbara Tulliver. Mus: Theodore Shapiro. Main cast: William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Paymer, Rebecca Pigeon, Julia Stiles.Mamet, the
  • The Prime Gig

    Dir: Gregory Mosher. US. 2000. 97 mins.Prod co: Independent Pictures. US dist: Fine Line. Int'l sales: Independent Picures, tel: (1) 212 993 1200. Prod: Cary Woods, Gina Mingacci, Elliot Lewis Rosenblatt. Co-prod/scr: William Wheeler. DoP: John A. Alonzo. Prod des: Richard Hoover. Editor: James Kwei. Music: David Robbins. Main cast: Vince Vaughn (Penny), Julia Ormond (Caitlin), Ed Harris (Kelly Grant), Rory Cochrane (Joel).Director Gregory Mosher is - potentially, at lea
  • The Weight Of Water

    Dir: Kathryn Bigelow. US-Fr. 2000. 110 mins.Prod cos: Manifest Film Co, Palomar Pictures, Miracle Pictures. Int'l sales: Le Studio Canal Plus (33) 1 44 43 98 00. Exec prods: Lisa Henson, Steven-Charles Jaffe. Prods: Janet Yang, Joni Sighvatsson, A Kitman Ho. Scr: Alice Arlen, Chris Kyle, from the novel by Anita Shreve. DoP: Adrian Biddle. Prod des: Karl Juliusson. Ed: Arthur Coburn. Mus: David Hirschfelder. Main cast: Sean Penn, Catherine McCormack, Elizabeth Hurley, Josh Lucas, Sar
  • waydowntown

    Dir: Gary Burns. Canada. 2000. 83 mins.Prod co: Burns Films, Odeon Films. Int'l sales: Alliance Atlantis Films International (1) 416 967 1141. Exec prod: Bryan Gliserman, Marguerite Pigott. Prod: Shirley Vercruysse, Gary Burns. Scr: Burns, James Martin. DoP: Patrick McLaughlin. Prod des: Donna Brunsdale. Ed: Mark Lemmon. Mus: John Abram. Main cast: Fabrizio Filippo, Don McKellar, Marya Delver, Gordon Currie, Jennifer Clement, Tobias Godson. waydowntown features a cat