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25 September 2002

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  • Altman's ballet Company does trans-Atlantic pas de deux

    Veteran US director Robert Altman's new feature The Company is to be the first project backed in a new joint venture between German private media fund CP Medien and the Los Angeles/Munich-based production outfit SRO Entertainment.Written by Barbara Turner, The Company charts the ups and downs of life for members of a world-famous ballet troupe, the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, and stars Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell and James Franco. New York-based Killer Films will serve

    Screened at Toronto (Special Presentation)Dir: Paul Schrader. US. 2002. 104minsDirector Paul Schrader mixes a potentially lethal cocktail of sex, celebrity and scandal in Auto Focus, a solid, absorbing but far from completely compelling biography of troubled 1960s TV star Bob Crane. Greg Kinnear does a fine job of capturing the callow charm and blissful lack of self-awareness that seem to have defined the Crane persona but his story is never as fascinating nor as mea
  • Avrio gives push to Maximum Surge

    Avrio Filmworks Releasing has acquired the worldwide sales rights to the sci-fi feature Maximum Surge. The film, directed by Jason Bourque is an action feature about a computer designer who must battle an artificial intelligence programme inside a virtual reality game he previously created. Maximum Surge stars Walter Koenig, Yasmine Bleeth and newcomer Woody Jeffreys. The executive producers are Kirk Shaw and James Shavick of Vancouver's Insight Film
  • Banger Sisters continues Searchlight run of success

    MGM's Ice Cube comedy Barbershop remained a cut above the rest in its second week, holding on to top spot with a $13.3m haul according to studio estimates released today. The picture's 36% drop-off, impressive for an urban comedy, and $38.9m cumulative score was more good news for beleaguered studio MGM. The prospect of crossover from Barbershop's predominantly black audience to mainstream viewers is already fuelling talk of a possible $60m domestic box office and a sequel. With
  • Bill Butler wins ASC Lifetime Achievement Award

    Veteran cinematographer BillButler will receive the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) LifetimeAchievement Award presented annually to 'an individual who has created adistinguished and enduring body of work'. He will receive his tributeduring the 17th annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awardscelebration on Feb 13, 2003, in Los Angeles.Butler has over 70 featurecredits including Jaws, Grease, Rocky II, III and IV and CapricornOn
  • Box office giants square off for round 2

    As the summer season draws to a close, industry eyes are now turning to the other bastion of bumper box office: the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. And based on previous performance, the big hitters will run a close race for the ultimate box office glory - with the outcome determined by the results in just one territory.With the two biggest hits of 2001, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone and The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, coming in the last six w
  • Box office giants square off for round 2

  • CNC calls for urgent reform of production funding

    Expansion of the SOFICA tax schemes, additional regional funding and a restructuring of contributions from the video-DVD sectors could deliver an additional Euros80m-Euros100m to the French production sector. Those are among the urgent measures in support of the struggling independent production sector recommended by a lengthy study delivered to government last week by the cinema regulator the CNC. "At stake is nothing less than the maintenance in France of an industry which this count
  • Columbia TriStar holds on to Father Amaro

    Columbia TriStar FilmDistributors International has taken up its first-look option to distributeMexican box office hit The Crime Of Father Amaro (El Crimen Del Padre Amaro) worldwide outside North America and Spain.Sal Ladestro, Columbiasenior vice president of marketing and distribution, acquisitions and localproductions, confirmed the move Friday at the San Sebastian International FilmFestival (Sept 19-28), where Crimeis screening in competition.Samuel Gol
  • Columbia TriStar takes Spanish rights to Mexican hit Father Amaro

    Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International has picked up Spanish rights to Mexican hit The Crime Of Father Amaro (El Crimen Del Padre Amaro) following the company's move last week to take up its first-look option to distribute the film worldwide outside North America and Mexico.The deal was negotiated at the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28) by Ernesto Victoria, GM of Columbia TriStar in Spain, and Jose Maria Morales, head of Spanish co-producer Wanda
  • Common Places (Lugares Communes)

    Dir: Adolfo Aristarain. Arg-Sp. 2002. 113mins.A graceful, intelligent and humorous portrait of a sixty-something couple forced to rebuild their lives, Common Places (Lugares Communes) confirms the director-actor team of Adolfo Aristarain and Federico Luppi as San Sebastian favourites. Very warmly received at the festival, the film, which opened in Argentina earlier this month, will find its most appreciative audiences in Spanish-speaking territories. Else
  • Critical acclaim boosts Irish film industry

    After languishing in the doldrums for several years, things are beginning to look up for Irish film. Several local productions are about to start shooting and a slew of Irish helmed projects are hitting the world's cinema screens.Neil Jordan's latest film, The Good Thief, is getting raves. Similarly Jim Sheridan's In America has won strong reviews after its premiere in Toronto. In common with these two films Thaddeus O'Sullivan's period drama, The Heart of Me, fro
  • Croupier team re-unite for I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

    I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, the film which sees the re-teaming of Croupier director Mike Hodges and its acclaimed star Clive Owen, started production on location in the UK and Wales yesterday (Monday 23 Sept).The contemporary thriller, billed as Hodges' first exploration of the world of crime since his 1971 cult classic Get Carter, tells the story of a reclusive, legendary gangster drawn back to the underworld through a disturbing family event. Based on an ori
  • Disney, Modern Times launch channel

    The Nordic region is to get its own version of the Disney Channel, following an agreement between Walt Disney Television International (WDTV-I) and Swedish giant Modern Times Group ( MTG).The channel - the 21st of its kind worldwide - will launch in early 2003 on MTG's Viasat satellite platform. WDTV-I will distribute the Channels directly with cable operators in the Nordic region.The deal also extends a pay-TV programming licensing deal between WDTV-I (through Buena Vista Inter
  • El Deseo links with MediaPro for production expansion

    The Almodovar brothers' El Deseo company has signed a wide-ranging co-production pact with Spanish media group MediaPro which will allow both companies to expand their current production activities. The deal was announced this weekend at the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28), which celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala event on Saturday night where Francis Ford Coppola received a special anniversary edition award, having apparently snubbed nearby Marrakech (s
  • European media shares take a heavy pounding

    Even before a shot has been fired in what looks increasingly like Gulf War II, European media stocks have been taking a shelling. In the US, Disney, AOL Time Warner and the cable companies Adelphia and Charter have been featured in bleak headlines, but their shares have dipped only modestly. In Japan, media players Shochiku and Toei have tracked sideways or managed small improvements. But in Europe it is all bad. Data for Europe's quoted TV companies show shares down typically 10%-15%
  • First participants confirmed for German sales & distribution market

    Germany's Bavaria Media, the Czech Republic's Space Film, Norway's BV International Pictures and the UK's Indyuk Films are among over 20 European arthouse sales agents which have already registered for the first 'Sales & Distribution Market' to be held by the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival from November 12-14.A sales and distribution catalogue with the sales companies' new titles has been sent to all European arthouse distributors who will then be invited to indicate w
  • Focus sells out its territories on Far From Heaven

    Focus International hascompleted sales of English-language territories on Todd Haynes' periodmelodrama Far From Heaven,closing deals with Entertainment Film Distributors in the UK, Icon FilmDistribution in Australia/New Zealand and Ster-Kinekor in South Africa. FocusFeatures will distribute the film in North America, although Focus inheriteddomestic rights from USA Films which was merged with Good Machine in May thisyear to form Focus.Focus International (or GoodMachine Internat
  • Four bidders line-up E2bn bids for KirchMedia

    Four different consortia have tabled bids worth up to Euros2bn for the bulk of KirchMedia's television and film rights.A consortium including Germany's Commerzbank and Sony's Columbia TriStar is reported to have offered Euros 2bn, as has another consortium whose members include German publishers Axel Springer and Bauer Verlag and HVB Bank.Other bidders are said to include a group including French broadcaster TF1 and US billionaire Haim Saban, and another consortium of former K
  • Fox's Perdition enjoys powerful international openings

    Fox's Road To Perdition took another $5.2m from 2,000 screens over theweekend to raise its cumulative international total to $22m. In a mightyLondon-only debut the Depression era gangster picture grossed $393,000 from 32screens in the UK for a $12,283 average. It expands to 390 screens across thecountry on Friday September 27.In Spain the picturecontinued to do strong business in its third week, grossing $800,000 from 280screens for a $4.7m running total, while in its second wee
  • Full listing of AFMA's newly elected board of directors

    The 2003 boardof directors for AFMA was elected at the annual membership meeting of theindependent film association yesterday, according to a statement from AFMAchairman Kathy Morgan. Morgan stressed AFMA's increasing internationalprofile, with 40% of member companies now headquaretered outside the US includingUK executives Jane Barclay, Nicole Mackey, Michael Ryan and Alison Thompson,Adriana Chiesa from Italy and Charlotte Mickie from Canada.Elected to atwo-year te
  • Gibson's biblical Passion story will unscroll in ancient tongues

    Seven years after winning two Oscars for his epic battle movie Braveheart, Hollywood superstar Mel Gibson is going behind the camera for a highly ambitious picture about the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus Christ.After cartwheeling into a press conference at Rome's Cinecitta Studios with Neapolitan dwarf actor Davide Marotta, Gibson said Passion, the new movie he is also producing, will be shot entirely in Latin and Aramaic - without any subtitles. "I will s
  • Go gets Golden Star at Marrakech Int'l film festival

    Japanese director Isao Yukisada's (pictured) Go has been awarded the top prize, the Golden Star (Etoile d'Or), at the second Marrakech International film festival.The prize was presented by Emmanuelle Beart on Sunday 22 Sept at the closing night ceremony in a spectacular open air cinema specially created within the ruins of the 16th century Palais El Badil.The best actor prize was given by French actress Anne Parillaud to Yusuke Kubozuka for his performance in Yukisada's
  • Goldmember dazzles in Australia with $3m gross

    NewLine International's (NLI) Austin Powers In Goldmember scored the 12th highest opening in Australia overthe weekend as it stormed to number one with a $3.07m gross from 329 screens.Averaging a terrific $9,330, the third instalment in the Austin Powers comedy franchise was also the third
  • Greek Wedding woos UK weekend audiences

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding, earned $2.3m (£1.5m) in three days, when it opened in the UK, the first major territory outside the US for the indie box office sensation.Playing at 341 sites for a strong average of $6,857 the comedy, which is directed by Joel Zwick and stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett, shot into second position in the UK chart behind Buena Vista International's Signs.Greek Wedding opens next in Argentina for Eurocine on Oct 10 and t
  • Greenwald commits to film while mentoring its writer

    Maggie Greenwald hascommitted to direct her next picture, a romantic comedy script Rose OfSharon by Thomas Simmons - aproject with which she became familiar while mentoring new writers includingSimmons at the Hamptons International Film Festival in Long Island, New York,last week.The director of Songcatcher, The Kill-Off and The Ballad Of Little Jo,Greenwald was one of the 'mentors' at the festival's secondannual four-day screenwriters co
  • Grimond parts company with Vivendi Universal

    Vincent Grimond has left Vivendi Universal, the latest in a line of senior French executives to part with the troubled media concern.Grimond, the former chairman and CEO of production and distribution division StudioCanal, moved over to Los Angeles in January 2001 following the Vivendi-Universal-Canal Plus tie-up under Jean-Marie Messier. With the title of senior executive VP at Universal Studio Group, he reported directly to Universal president Ron Meyer and was charged with linking
  • Home Road Movies scoops Cartoon d'Or

    UK animator Robert Bradbrook was named the winner of the 12th Cartoon d'Or for his 12-minute mix of 3-D computer animation and live action Home Road Movies. The prize, which provides the winning film-maker with Euros25,000 pre-production aid to begin work on a more ambitious project, was awarded to Bradbrook at the closing ceremony of the 13th Cartoon Forum market in North Wales this weekend. Bradbrook's film, based on the true story of his father's desire for the family
  • Hong Kong film industry hammers out crisis proposals

    The creation of a Hong Kong Film Commission - centralising all of the territory's film support mechanisms - was one of the key proposals to emerge from a crisis conference held by the Hong Kong film industry yesterday (September 18).Conference delegates also suggested that the Hong Kong government underwrite bank loans for film production."We're not asking for subsidies or hand-outs," said John Sham, standing adviser to the Hong Kong Federation of Film Workers which organised
  • Hong Kong heavies to lobby China for better access

    Golden Harvest chairman Raymond Chow, China Star's Charles Heung and Peter Lam of Media Asia are among the high-level delegates joining a networking mission to Beijing next month to discuss co-operation between Hong Kong film-makers and their counterparts on the mainland.Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), the mission aims to increase the Hong Kong film industry's access to the vast, but largely off-limits, mainland market. Hong Kong films are classed as foreign
  • Hopper, Griffith will do it their way in Sinatra Down Under tale

    Screen legend Dennis Hopper will play Frank Sinatra, Melanie Griffith his girlfriend and David Hemmings his lawyer in new film The Night We Called It A Day, which goes into production in Sydney on Oct 21 directed by Paul Goldman.The core of the story, however, belongs to Joel Edgerton. He plays a promoter who pulls off the coup of a lifetime when he persuades Sinatra to tour Australia in 1974. After Sinatra clashes with the press and unions, the promoter's plans go badly awry. R
  • Hungary's porno-music drama Mix wraps in Budapest

    "Music, love, porn", is how writer-director-producers Steven and Robert Lovy describe their latest film, Mix, that has just finished shooting in Budapest. The film's main character is a talented, American teenager who, following his father's wish, is preparing to become a pianist while secretly cherishing plans to become a DJ. Arriving in Budapest, he has a conflict with the cyber porn mafia, but also meets the girl of his dreams and finds out why his father hates his mother so
  • Jet Lag (Decalage Horaire)

    Dir: Daniele Thompson. France-UK. 2002. 91mins.There could be no more marketable French film than Jet Lag (Decalage Horaire), Daniele Thompson's romantic comedy starring Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno. First of all, it is a classic formulaic romantic comedy with none of the introspection or intense drama traditionally associated with French relationship pictures. Second, it is a shameless vehicle for France's two most exportable stars who between them have appea
  • KWA picks up worldwide rights to Spanish language trio

    Madrid-based sales house Kevin Williams Associates (KWA) has picked up worldwide rights to three new films - The Blue Room (La Habitacion Azul), The Suit (El Traje) and November (Noviembre) - the company announced at the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28).The trio of pick-ups link KWA directly to Spanish production company Plural Entertainment, which is backed 100% by media conglomerate Grupo Prisa. Plural is a co-producer on Mexican film Th
  • London Screenings 'confident' buyers will come

    Far from being dead, London's pre-Mifed film market is attracting increased interest from buyers. That is the verdict of, a buyers' rep acting for the London Screenings (the market organised by Fusion Events), the Raindance independent film festival and the Kodak Vision Screenings. "We remain convinced the market will be a success especially for those sellers that see the non-attendance of a couple of major sellers as an advantage," said Alexis Bicat, co-founder o
  • Mad Pix, Madrid Film team for new digital lab

    Spain's mostestablished film laboratory Madrid Film and Das Werk-backed post-productionhouse Mad Pix have created a new digital laboratory to be housed between thecurrent Madrid headquarters of the two companies.Speaking at the SanSebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28), the companies said they hadinvested an initial Euros 2m in synchronizing their installations to be able toproduce high definition (HD) masters, and anticipate pumping at least anotherEuro
  • Marrakech left deserted by Scorsese, Almodovar

    The embarrassing absence ofboth Martin Scorsese and Pedro Almodovar from this year's secondMarrakech International Film Festival stole much of the limelight away from anotherwise glittering event where an outdoor public screening of David Lynch'ssexually-charged Mulholland Drivefurther raised the temperature in this Islamic hot zone.On the eve of King MohammedVI presenting Scorsese with Morocco's highest order of merit, making hima Commander of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, the
  • Mondays In The Sun (Los Lunes Al Sol)

    Dir: Fernando Leon de Aranoa. Sp-Fr-It. 2002. 113mins.A bittersweet comedy about men facing unemployment led by a barnstorming central performance from Javier Bardem, Mondays In The Sun (Los Lunes Al Sol) looks like another decisive critical and popular hit for one of Spain's most hotly tipped new young talents. Fernando Leon de Aranoa won the Goya for Best New Director in 1998 for his first film, Familia, while his second, Barrio (1998), a
  • Monsters Inc claims monster record on US home entertainment debut

    Monsters, Inc. last week became the latest title to claim a record in the US home entertainment market, when it notched up sales of $85m on its first day on release. Some five million VHS and DVD copies of the title were sold last Tuesday, with a 60%-65% sold on the higher priced DVD format. Disney, which co-produced the film with Pixar Animation Studios, and is handling the release had expected a roughly 50-50 split between tape and disc. About one million copies had been pre-s
  • Moonstone sells Chen Kaige's Together to five territories

    Etchie Stroh's Moonstone Entertainment has closed a slew of deals on Chen Kaige's latest film Together which world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last week and was swiftly sold to United Artists for North America.Momentum Pictures bought the film for the UK, A-Film for Benelux, Vertigo for Spain, Shani Films for Israel and New Visions/Hopscotch for Australia. Stroh will continue sales in San Sebastian where the film is also screening.Together
  • Natural Nylon team unravels as founder producer Bryant exits

    Natural Nylon founder Damon Bryant is exiting the company he launched with leading British actors Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Jonny Lee Miller and fellow producer Bradley Adams.Bryant is taking two projects with him which were developed at Natural Nylon under its first-look arrangement with Alliance Atlantis. John Maybury (Love is the Devil) is to direct the $23 million Marlowe from a script written by himself and Alan Ayres, while director Alison Maclean (Jesus' Son
  • New BSkyB channel to have heavy film accent

    Films will form an integral part of a new entertainment channel to be launched by UK pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB under the aegis of Dawn Airey, who was appointed managing director of Sky Networks over the weekend.Airey, currently chief executive of Channel 5, will join BSkyB in early 2003 in a role that will see her take charge of all programming except for Sky Sports. She reports directly to BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball.One of her first tasks will be to launch a new general e
  • Newmarket makes it four with Whale Rider

    Marking its fourth film acquisition in the last two weeks, upstart US distribution outfit Newmarket Films has acquired all North American rights to Whale Rider, Niki Caro's magical fable from New Zealand, which won the AGF People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend.The film, which world premiered in Toronto, was sold by London-based The Works. Based on Maori legends and set in a Maori community, it tells the story of a young girl's fight to pro
  • Open Hearts (Elsker Dig For Evigt)

    Dir: Susanne Bier. Denmark. 2002. 113 mins. Just when you thought the Dogme 95 movement was out of fashion, Susanne Bier (The One And Only, Once In A Lifetime) delivers Open Hearts, a knockout adult drama made according to the controversial Danish manifesto. Eliciting painfully true insights into human relationships from her tragic scenario and her extraordinary actors, the director reaches dramatic heights usually only scaled by rare masters like Mike L
  • Open Hearts, The Sea do storming business in the Nordic region

    US blockbuster Signs may have dominated many of the bigger European territories, but in the Nordic countries two home grown titles are generating big returns.In Denmark, Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's new film Open Hearts (Elsker Dig For Evigt) (pictured), which screens in competition at San Sebastian this week, has again proven that local product can be more than a match for US blockbusters.Despite hot September weather and competition from a national football
  • Oscar hopefuls hit language barrier

    Qualifying for the foreign language Oscars has long been the source of some confusion, but this year the imbroglio of the world's most important film trophy is boiling over into resentment. The Oscar for most angry country goes to Sweden, which argues that the criterion of language ghettoises national cinemas. Lilja 4-Ever, Lukas Moodysson's highly-anticipated follow-up to hit black comedy Together, looked like a shoe-in for Sweden's Oscar submission. But as the gritty
  • Paradox Lake wins Athens festival

    Paradox Lake, an American independent production by Polish-born, first-time director Przemyslaw Shemie Reut was named best film at the 8th Athens International Film Festival, which wrapped yesterday (Sept 19). The film, which received the Audience Award accompanied by a Euros6,000 prize, beat competition including Gus van Sant's Gerry John Sayles Sunshine State and Andrew Smith's The Slaughter Rule in the festival's mainstay American Independents section. Li
  • peppermint takes worldwide rights to When Pigs Fly

    peppermint, the worldwidedistribution company that recently underwent a management buy-out from HelkonMedia AG, has acquired worldwide rights outside Germany, Austria andGerman-speaking Switzerland, on San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept19-28) competition entry Pigs Will Fly.The film, directed by EoinMoore, tells the story of Laxe, a Berlin policeman, who embarks on a journey ofself-discovery after being forced to take leave from his job for brutallybeating his wife.
  • PGA announce Celebration Of Diversity

    The Producers Guild OfAmerica (PGA) is to hold a brand new annual Celebration Of Diversity in LosAngeles to honour the contributions of African Americans, Asians, Latinos, gaysand lesbians and women to the industry. The event will take place on Oct 28 andwill honour Ang Lee, Danny Glover, Moctezuma Esparza, Marian Rees and theproducers of Six Feet Under AlanBall, Alan Poul and Greenblatt-Janollari.Historically the PGA hasrecognized the contributions of African American film-make
  • Polish festival warms to Day Of The Freak

    Despite a funding crisis in the Polish film industry that has cast doubts on the future of the event, the 27th annual festival of Polish Feature Film (17-21 September) in the Baltic coast resort of Gdynia managed to field a competition programme of 21 new features and a special new section of low budget independent films with 11 entries. Dominating this year's fesitval was The Day Of The Freak directed by Marek Koterski (pictured) and starring top Polish actor Marek Kondrat. Th
  • Polish government steps in to bail out struggling film industry

    Poland's new culture minister Waldemar Dabrowski unveiled a government backed bail-out package for Poland's beleaguered film industry at last week's annual Festival of Polish Feature Film in the Baltic seaside resort of Gdynia. At a special industry forum of Polish filmmakers Dabrowski said that the government had agreed to a budget of US$ 5.5m (PLZ 23m) for 2003 to support the film industry.While Polish filmmakers hailed the news as a step in the right direction, the new fund
  • Russian leading man, crew members feared dead

    Sergei Bodrov Jr is missing, feared killed, after being caught in an avalanche in Southern Russia on Saturday.The 30 year-old star, who was most recently seen in his father Sergei Bodrov's Venice competition film The Bear's Kiss, was filming near the village of Karmadon, North Ossetia, on Friday when a massive chunk of the Maili Glacier broke free from the Caucasus mountains. The glacier provoked a tidal wave of mud, snow and ice. By Sunday 24 people were confirmed as dea
  • San Sebastian festival kicks off with The Good Thief

    Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28) kicks off what promises to be a star-studded 50th anniversary edition today with screenings of Official Section inaugural film The Good Thief and sidebar Zabaltegi opening title The Dancer Upstairs.Good Thief director Neil Jordan and co-star Tcheki Karyo will offer a press conference prior to the official screening tonight. Director John Malkovich and star Javier Bardem will accompany their Spanish pro
  • Szolnok adds Eastern market to festival mix

    The town of Szolnok in eastern Hungary will next week (Oct 1-6) host its annual International Film Festival of Fine Arts along with an international film market. The festival, founded over thirty years ago, includes 130 films in competition across three categories: documentary, experimental and animation. Thirty features and shorts also screen out of competition in the festival's information section. The film market is a new addition to the festival's programme. According to the
  • Together (Han Ni Zai Yiki)

    TOGETHER (HA NI ZAI YI QI)Screened at Toronto (Masters)Dir: Chen Kaige. China. 2002. 116mins.US buyers scrambled to buy Chen Kaige’s latest Chinese film when it world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival - and it’s easy to see why. Wearing its heart on its sleeve, Together is a crowd-pleasing family drama which aims to have the same effects on the tear ducts as other blockbusting foreign weepies about kids like Cinema Paradiso
  • Tony Blair unwittingly boosts Thornton Wilder adaptation

    When Tony Blair chose the closing paragraph of an obscure 1927 novel called The Bridge Of San Luis Rey to read at a memorial service last year for the victims of September 11, he did not know that UK producer Pembridge Pictures had already spent close to ten years prepping a film adaptation of the same book, now a Euros 23m co-production with Spain's KanZaman.Blair's choice of the passage may prove a good omen for the project, unveiled this week at the San Sebastian Internation
  • UK government backs festival to promote EU enlargement

    The UK Government is spending£12,000 to back a London film festival showcasing Eastern European film - in a bid to help raise awareness of the planned enlargement of European Union in 2004. The New Europe Film Season opened at London's Barbican Screen on Thursday (19 September).According to a Foreign Office spokesperson the money spent on the festival is part of a plan to raise awareness of the 13 countries that are candidates for membership of the European Union in 2004. Rece
  • Village Roadshow unloads 50% interest in leading Korean exhibitor

    Australian exhibition giant Village Roadshow announced the long-anticipated sale of its 50% stake in leading Korean cinema circuit CGV for $81m (A$150m). Korean partner CJ Entertainment, which has operational control of the company, will retain its 50% share.The stake was bought by venture capital firm Asia Cinema Holdings, a Dutch company made up of funds advised by private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific Ltd. Additional funds were supplied by 3i Group Plc III.L and Intermediate Capita
  • Vivendi Universal sells Canal+ Technologies to Thomson Multimedia

    Vivendi Universal today (Wednesday, Sept 25) sold Canal Plus Group's 89% stake in set-top decoders company Canal Plus Technologies to French group Thomson Multimedia for Eu190m.The cash deal is part of Vivendi Universal's Eu10bn assets disposal programme and may not be the only one announced today. It is widely expected that the Vivendi Universal board meeting will approve the cut-price sale of Italian pay-TV platform Telpiu to News Corp (See also Screendaily: Euro shares take a
  • Wedding makes big fat impression at UK box office

    The UK box office continued to be dominated by Buena Vista International's Signs last weekend but saw two high-profile entries vying for audience attention as My Big Fat Greek Wedding launched nationwide and Road To Perdition debuted in London.Signs dropped off just 23% from its opening three-day weekend to take $4.1m (£2.65m) from 440 sites for a significant average of $9,375. Its 10-day total now stands at $12.5m (£8.1m).20th Century Fox's
  • Wellspring acquires two for US from Celluloid Dreams

    Wellspring Media has picked up US rights to two European films - Alexander Sokurov's acclaimed Cannes title Russian Ark and Bille Eltringham's UK DV thriller This Is Not A Love Song. Both films were sold by Paris-based sales outfit Celluloid Dreams. Russian Ark is slated for a release before the end of this year, while This Is Not A Love Song will open in 2003. Russian Ark, shot on digital video and transferred to film, is the first full-length, singl
  • XXX marks the spot in Russia as action thriller takes $1.2m

    Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) enjoyed a superb number one opening for its action thriller XXX in Russia over the weekend, taking $1.2m from 162 prints. The picture went out on the widest ever release in the territory, which is starting to yield promising returns for distributors. The opening was an unconfirmed fifth or sixth industry best for the territory, which has seen significant theatre growth in the last couple of years. XXX also opened number on