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27 April 2001

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  • Amelie charms French audiences across Europe

    UGC International's Amelie From Montmartre opened well in French-speaking Europe, making Cannes selector Thierry Fremaux's decision to programme the film as a special open-air screening a popular one.Handled by UFD, the Jean-Pierre Jeunet-directed charmer achieved 125,000 admissions from 432 copies on the first day on nationwide French release, giving a single day screen average of $1,736. In Paris the film achieved 30,000 admissions from 49 screens.Handled by Les Films d
  • Bac Majestic misses profit targets

    Bac Majestic, the French distribution and exhibition group headed by Jean Labadie, reported profits below the target announced at the time of last year's flotation.Pre-tax profits were $1m (Euros1.1m), and net after tax profits were $180,000 (Euros0.2m). But the company blamed the difference on a policy of accelerated film depreciation. Sales of $71.3m (Euros79m) and operating profits, however were in line with expectations and for the current year Bac is forecasting turnover to exceed
  • Besson's Europa wins Hellman distrib contract

    Philippe Hellman's specialist acquisitions and production outfit UGC Ph has struck an output deal with Luc Besson's new company Europa Corp, to handle French theatrical distribution.Hellman, who is a co-founder of UGC, previously released his films through UFD, a joint venture between UGC and 20th Century Fox.The first titles to be handled by Europa are Peter Howitt's Tim Robbins-starrer AntiTrust (MGM-Intermedia Films), Hyde Park Entertainment's Mickael Cristofer-directe
  • Bogosian, Koteas, Plummer join Egoyan's Ararat

    Eric Bogosian, Christopher Plummer and Elias Koteas have joined the cast of Atom Egoyan's Ararat which is set to shoot mid-May in Toronto. The Serendipity Point film, backed by Alliance Atlantis, follows the production ofa historical drama about the Armenian Genocide and the ripple effect of the production on the cast and crew as well as the incidental people with whom they come in contact.As reported earlier (Screen Daily, Jan 24), French crooner Charles Aznavor p
  • Brando drops out of Scary Movie 2 due to illness

    Marlon Brando, who made headlines earlier this month when he agreed to play a cameo role as an exorcist in Dimension Films' Scary Movie 2 for an estimated $2m, has been forced to drop out of the project due to illness."Unfortunately, due to his health issues and unavailability, we must now recast his role," said Dimension's senior vice president of publicity Elizabeth Clark. "We wish Mr Brando a speedy recovery."Scary Movie 2, a sequel to the low budget teen horr
  • Bridget conquers America; Dundee, Freddy only OK

    Bridget Jones's Diary vaulted to the top of the North American box office in its second weekend with an appetising estimated $10.53m at 2,211 sites for an average of $4,739 per site. Distributed domestically by Miramax Films, the comedy from Helen Fielding's best-selling novel had opened behind Spy Kids and Along Came A Spider last weekend but this week increased its screen count and bettered both of them.The film - also number one in the UK for the second straigh
  • Bridget still weighty, The Hole penetrates well

    While the top three performers at the UK box office remained unchanged this weekend four new releases managed to make some impact on their opening weekend.Leading the pack was Pathe Distribution's The Hole. The UK-produced thriller, based on the cult novel 'After The Hole' by Guy Burt, took a strong $970,860 (£673,777) from 322 sites for a per screen average of $3,014. The 15 classified teen-thriller, set in a British private school and starring Thora Birch, hot off American
  • British Film Commission changes directors

    Terri Jones has stepped down as director of the British Film Commission after joining in February last year, to be replaced by former freelance producer Clare Wise.Jones, formerly director of production at UK TV station LWT, is understood to have wanted to return to the TV sector. Wise most recently produced the comedy Acts Of Charity for Alliance Atlantis and Adrian Lester's directing debut, Rollin Over. Her previous credits include The Last Seduction II for PolyG
  • Cannes expands out-of-competition line-up

    Three more titles have been added to the Cannes festival sidebar Un Certain Regard while the organisers have also announced a special open-air screening of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie From Montmartre, which goes on French release tomorrow (Wed, April 25). Un Certain Regard now takes in Stanley Kwan's gay drama Beijing Story (Lu Yu) about an affair between a man from the mainland and his lover from Hong Kong, French actress-director Emmanuelle Bercot's third film Clemen
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin

    Dir: John Madden. UK-US-FR. 2001. 125 minsWhile its aspirations and ingredients should ensure a strong release in all territories where the original Louis de Bernieres novel was triumphant, Captain Corelli's Mandolin curiously lacks harmony for a work with music as one of its core values. There is discord between its good intentions and its lack of soul, as well as a clash between the beauty of its Mediterranean setting and the surprising lack of chemistry between its good-lo
  • Carlton, Granada merge digital and free-TV assets

    U K media concerns Granada and Carlton Communications have confirmed they are merging their free-to-air TV assets with their joint pay-TV venture ONdigital, bringing closer the total consolidation of commercial TV network ITV.Stuart Prebble, ONdigital chief executive, was also confirmed as chief executive of the enlarged ITV. Rob Fyfe, currently ONdigital's chief operating officer, will replace Prebble to head up the new-look ONdigital - now renamed ITV Digital. Along with ITV Digi
  • Chapman heads Birmingham festival

    The Birmingham Film and TV Festival has appointed Barbara Chapman as its director.Chapman, the festival's film programmer for the last three years, replaces Sarah McKenzie, who left last year to join the British Film Commission. Part of Chapman's brief is to add new elements to the festival such as a section for children.The November event features new films from around the world, along with a TV line-up and South Asian and extreme cinema sidebars.
  • Court dismisses RICO claims against Franchise

    Franchise Pictures has won a second dismissal in its acrimonious court battle with Germany's Intertainment Licensing GmbH. On Friday, Judge Carlos Moreno of the US District Court issued an order granting Franchise motion to dismiss Intertainment's claims against it under the Federal Racketeering Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act (known as RICO). The court found that Intertainment did not satisfy legal requirements for alleging RICO claims against Franchise or its officers Elie Samaha a
  • DreamWorks and TBS strike $350m-$450m deal

    In a landmark output arrangement estimated to be worth between $350m and $450m, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has entered into a deal with DreamWorks SKG giving TBS entertainment networks US broadcast TV rights to 60 of the studio's films. Touted as the biggest film licensing agreement in the history of basic cable television, the deal will see Turner Network Television (TNT) and TBS Superstation broadcast such DreamWorks hits as Gladiator, American Beauty, The Mex
  • Financial briefs (Germany)

    Odeon FilmFilm and TV production group Odeon Film is forecasting an operating profit $630,000 (Euros700,000) in the current financial on sales of $45.1m (Euros50.1m) after reporting an EBIT loss of $1.44m (Euro1.6m) for 2000. For 2002 it is forecasting an EBIT $1.53m (Euros1.7m). Director of production Reinhard Klooss said the feature film division will break-even this year and is achieve profitability in 2002.IntertainmentBeleagured rights trader Intertainment's protract
  • Five out of five for Club Des Cinq

    Coincidence or moral victory' The five French films in Official Selection at this year's Cannes festival are all set to be distributed locally by members of The Club Of Five (Le Club Des Cinq). This is a new lobby group formed by independent distributors which recently split from the two main distributors' federations.Pyramide will release Catherine Corsini's La Repetition, ARP Selection will handle Francois Dupeyron's La Chambre Des Officiers, Diaphana is distributing Cedric Kahn's Ro
  • Fox adds local duo to Mexican distribution slate

    Buoyed by a promising new crop of Mexican films, 20th Century Fox de Mexico has picked up two more home-grown films for local distribution, Nicolas Echevarria's Vivir Mata and Angel Maria Huerta's Inspiracion.Vivir Mata is a romantic comedy shot in Mexico City and stars Daniel Gimenez Cacho (Nadie Hablara de Nosotras cuando Hayamos Muerto) , Emilio Echevarria (Amores Perros) and Luis Felipe Tovar (The Mexican). Inspiracion is the first movie by new Monterrey-based co, Ilusi
  • Goldcrest dips into features with WW2 POW film

    UK-based Goldcrest Films International has acquired all international rights to $14m war drama To End All Wars, starring Robert Carlyle and Keifer Sutherland.The deal marks a step into the theatrical arena for Goldcrest, which has been quiet on the features front since splitting with Guy Collins' IAC Films. The film, which will screen at Cannes, is based on the true story of a young Scottish soldier whose regiment was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and forced to build the noto
  • Gov't make Israeli industry wait for cash support

    Israel's film-makers will have to wait some more before they can access the government support that seemed so near at hand,The Cinema Law, approved by Parliament some 18 months ago after years of struggles and lobbying, and celebrated by the industry as a major step towards solving some of its basic problems, has been sent back to the proof readers.After being approved, the law was turned over to the Treasury - which was opposed to it all along - for direction on its implementat
  • Haeberle quits board of F.A.M.E.

    Thomas Haeberle is to step down from the management board of ambitious German mini-conglomerate F.A.M.E. Film & Music Entertainment where he was director of film production. The move is reminiscent of Bernd Eichinger's recent decision at Constantin to quit the board and concentrate on production. Haeberle's board responsibilities are being taken over until further notice by Michael Bischoff, director for film licensing. The move, however, comes as the German Stock Exchange put F
  • Helkon completes $16m Redbus takeover

    The UK's Redbus Film Distribution has announced the finalisation of its $16m takeover by Germany's Helkon Media and that it will beat first-quarter expectations with a pre-tax profit of $1.1m.A significant slice of Helkon's final $8m payment to Redbus will go to Cliff Stanford, the Internet mogul who owns Redbus' former parent Filmgroup. Stanford now has only a 9% holding in Redbus, while Helkon has 51% and co-founders Simon Franks and Zygi Kamasa are understood to control the remainde
  • IFC Films buys domestic rights to The Chateau

    IFC Films has acquired domestic distribution rights to Jesse Peretz's digital semi-improvisational comedy The Chateau which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival this week. Fortissimo Film Sales has international rights.Starring Paul Rudd and Romany Malco as two American brothers who inherit a small castle in the south of France, the film was produced by GreeneStreet Films, from whom IFC bought it, in association with Forensic Films and Crossroads
  • Intermedia buys crime novel for Mark Johnson Prods

    Intermedia has acquired movie rights to The Booster, a crime novel by Eugene Izzi, for Mark Johnson Productions to produce. The book was bought to Johnson by producer Louis DiGiaimo who collaborated with Johnson on Donnie Brasco.The Booster is the story of a big time thief who comes out of retirement to take part in the biggest and most dangerous heist of his life. It will be adapted for the screen by Sheldon Turner who has a two picture deal with Casey Silver's G
  • Kinobrasil adds Spanish-language sales arm

    Many of Latin America's festival favourites are to be represented at Cannes by new international sales company Kinolatino.The company, which is a subsidiary of Zurich-based Kinobrasil, has already acquired European all rights to: Chilean box office hit, El Chacotero Sentimental; Argentina's Solo Por Hoy which appeared in Berlin's Panorama section; this year's Guadalajara prize winner, Perfume De Violetas; Mexican all-time box office leader, Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrim
  • Korea's Myung launches own sales operation

    Myung Film, the company behind Korean box office breakaway Joint Security Area, is to expand its production capacity and launch its own sales outfit in time for Cannes. The new sales division, E Pictures, will handle international distribution of the ten or so domestic Korean films produced annually by Myung. With its own credit line, the company will also act an independent producer and co-producer on one or two other Korean films or pictures from elsewhere in Asia. Thes
  • Leah Weil named general counsel at Sony Pictures

    Leah Weil has been promoted to corporate senior vice president and general counsel for Sony Pictures Entertainment with responsibility for all company legal matters. She was previously executive vice president, legal affairs and deputy general counsel.Reporting to Beth Berke, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Weil is now the most senior legal officer at SPE. She will oversee all legal and labor relations matters and will serve as SPE's liaison to Sony Corp on
  • Les Visiteurs cause heavy losses at Gaumont

    Beleaguered French major, Gaumont announced plans to produce some ten films over the next 18 months as it concentrates its efforts on production and distribution. But two of its big productions forced the company into massive losses for last year.Gaumont announced net losses of $60.1m (FF437m) compared with a profit of $7.98m (FF58m) in 1999. The company blamed flops Les Visiteurs En Amerique and Vatel for its troubles. The reduced 1999 problems were attributed to a weak exhibit
  • Menegazzi launches Firelight with Zenith deal

    Carmen Menegazzi, former head of Columbia TriStar's UK theatrical arm, has partnered on local drama Lifelines with UK media operation Zenith Entertainment for the first project from her production outfit Firelight Films.Menegazzi and Zenith have struck a co-development deal on the £3m project, which is being written by Bridget Lawless. Other projects in development at Firelight include a romantic comedy, a historical drama, a psychological thriller and a New York-set comedy.
  • Miami hispanic festival mixes Latin and Loach

    Argentinean drama Historias Clandestinas De la Havana will open the fifth Miami Hispanic Film Festival next month, while Ken Loach's Bread And Roses closes proceedings.Films in competition at the event include Chilean box-office hit Coronacion, by Silvio Ciaozzi, Venezuelan-Spanish co-production Oro Diablo and Brazilian blockbuster O Auto Da Compadecida. Also vying for the six Golden Egret awards are Peru's Ciudad De M and Mexican-Spanish title
  • Miramax buys UK, Manhattan close to US on Enigma

    Miramax Films has acquired UK rights to Enigma, the World War II thriller directed by Michael Apted which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Intermedia co-financed the film with Germany's Senator Film and handled the UK sales to Miramax.Meanwhile Manhattan Pictures International, the recently formed New York-based producer/distributor run by Paul Cohen and Julius Nasso, is in the final stages of negotiating domestic rights to the film; it will be one of the compan
  • MM Media Capital renamed Cobalt Media Group

    Two year-old financing company MM Media Capital Partners (MCP) has changed identity, renaming itself Cobalt Media Group in light of its reorganisation as a finance, sales and distribution company. The new name is effective May 1.Founded in 1999 by NatWest/Coutts Bank's Rodney Payne, Hal Sadoff and Myles Nestel with financial advisors Alton Irby and Richard Milne, MCP last year appointed sales veteran Peter Rogers as head of its international sales and distribution operation and has al
  • Momentum takes UK on Jeunet's Amelie

    The UK's Momentum Pictures has picked up all UK rights to Amelie From Montmartre, a French-language comedy from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Alien Resurrection and one half of the team behind Delicatessen and The City Of Lost Children.The UGC International title has just secured a special public screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May and goes on French release this week. The story of a naïve girl who tries to help others find love but discovers
  • New talent finds its home in Directors Fortnight

    Marie-Pierre Macia in her second year as chief selector of the Directors' Fortnight (La Quinzaine Des Realisateurs) has picked an eclectic mixture with very few well-known directors. The biggest names are Amos Kollek, in Cannes last year with Fast Food, Fast Women and Sandrine Veysset, who previously directed festival favourite Will It Snow At Christmas' and this time opens the event with Martha... Martha. As such the Fortnight provides the key element that
  • Pacifica acquires Dances With Wolves sequel

    LA-based development and production outfit Pacifica Film Development, which is backed by German film fund IMF, has acquired the film rights to the soon-to-be-published novel The Holy Road, the sequel to Dances With Wolves written by original author Michael Blake who will also write the screenplay adaptation.To be published on Sept 15 in the US by Villard, a division of Random House, The Holy Road takes up the story of Dances With Wolves aka Lt John Dunbar ten years after
  • Paquin, Olin emerge in Belaguero's Darkness

    Anna Paquin and Lena Olin will head the cast of Catalan director Jaume Balaguero's much-anticipated English-language debut, Darkness. Iain Glen, who co-starred on stage with Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room, Open Your Eyes-star Fele Martinez, Hannibal re-discovery Giancarlo Giannini, Fermi Reixach and newcomer Stephan Enquist round out the cast. The $11m thriller is produced by Spain's Filmax with backing from Miramax. Shooting begins this week (Ap
  • Pentamedia bids to rescue Film Roman deal

    Senior officials, including V Chandrasekaran chairman of India's Pentamedia have rushed to the US to renegotiate their deal with Film Roman on a stock and cash basis (Screendaily, Oct 24, 2001). Film Roman has set April 28 as the deadline for repair of the alleged breach of contract by Pentamedia Graphics that put the two companies deal in turnaround.Earlier Film Roman said that it had formally notified Pentamediathat the latter was in material breach of the stock purchas
  • Ramsay's Callar gets early call-up

    Alliance Atlantis has closed a clutch of pre-sales on offbeat drama Morvern Callar, by one of Britain's hottest directing talents, Lynne Ramsay.The film has been snapped up by Diaphana in France, Artist House in Japan and Prooptiki in Greece. Momentum Pictures will release the film in the UK.Morvern Caller is Ramsay's second feature after the critically-lauded Ratcatcher, which landed slots in the Un Certain Regard and Camera d'Or categories at Cannes in 1999.
  • Ricardo Avila to leave Columbia TriStar Italy

    Ricardo Avila is to leave his position as general manager of Columbia TriStar, Italy, after 16 years at the company. "It was a hard and difficult decision to make," he said in a statement. "After 16 years with this company in four different countries around the world it really felt like home, but I believe it is the right time for me to approach other endeavours. I am very grateful to Columbia for all these wonderful years and very excited about what the future my bring."Avila worked
  • Senator Int'l makes first pick-up: Das Experiment

    Senator International, the new Los Angeles-based sales company run by Joe Drake, has acquired worldwide rights excluding German-speaking Europe and Japan to Oliver Hirschbiegel's surprise hit Das Experiment. Marking the first film picked up by the new outfit since its formation earlier this year, Das Experiment has grossed $7.6m since it was released on March 8 in German-speaking territories by Senator International's sister company distributor Senator Film.The producers
  • Sony unveils plan for Korean animation channel

    Sony Pictures Television Japan (SPTVJ) has announced plans to launch an animation channel in South Korea, its first move to operate an overseas TV station.SPTVJ, which is a satellite broadcasting arm of US-based Sony Pictures Entertainment, has begun talks with local Korean partners and expects to see the channel distributed by cable. Korea has 1.3 million cable households.Japanese programming has been banned from Korean TV for many years. But with the thawing cultural climate b
  • Summit, Momentum, Samuelsons pact for remake

    The US' Summit Entertainment and the UK's Momentum Pictures and Samuelson Productions have partnered on a UK remake of Dutch box office hit All Stars.Provisionally titled 30 Things, the comedy about a group of 20 somethings is to go into production this year. Simon Shore, who debuted with gay-themed coming-of-age story Get Real, will direct from a script by John Milarky and Patrick Wilde, Shore's collaborator on Get Real.The original film was number one in t
  • TEAM weaves web of distribution deals

    Shares in beleaguered film and TV group TEAM Communications climbed 20% to Euros1.27 today after it announced two distribution deals.In the UK it signed a deal with Indigo Film and Television which will see Indigo handle international sales of TEAM's 2000-hour catalogue worldwide, except the Americas. In the US October Moon Television was appointed to represent the TEAM library to broadcasters, cable channels and home video/ancillary outlets. TEAM's new chairman Michael J Solomo
  • Tele+/Stream deal hands Italian pay-TV to Vivendi

    Vivendi Universal boss Jean-Marie Messier today forecast swift regulatory approval for the Italian pay-TV venture with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp that he announced today.Messier said that Vivendi Universal will have two-thirds of a joint venture which will be born from the merger of Vivendi's Telepiu and the News Corp-Telecom Italia-controlled Stream.Terms of the new venture have still not been detailed, but Messier outlined the deal at a meeting with analysts following a Vivend
  • Telepiu-Stream set to merge today

    Jean-Marie Messier and Rupert Murdoch are today expected to announce that Vivendi Universal will have two-thirds of a new joint venture in Italian pay-TV. Terms of the new venture which will be born from the merger of Vivendi Universal's Telepiu and the News Corp-controlled Stream may be detailed this afternoon following a Vivendi board meeting.According to Vivendi boss Messier in an interview in Les Echos, Telecom Italia will take full-control of free-to-air broadcaster
  • This week in Screen International

    News UK films CannedWhile Bridget Jones conquered America, Cannes could not find a UK film worthy of selection. Has British film-making sold its soul for the sake of a few dollars more' News Focus Set me free"Handcuffing us in how we do business is ridiculous in this day and age." How Hollywood agents are struggling to throw off their shackles and repel the advance of the talent managersNews Focus Filmkeller"Go into any pub
  • UK admissions down 8.7% for first quarter

    UK cinema admissions were down 8.7% in the first quarter this year, according to the latest figures from cinema advertising body the CAA.Admissions hit 8.3 million during the period, compared to just over nine million during the same period last year. Average admissions per week during the entire quarter this year were 2.75 million, against 2.99 million during the first quarter last year.CAA said this quarter's fall was because of the growth during the same period last year, whe
  • UK's Film Council appoints clutch of executives

    UK film body the Film Council has named Norman Brock and Emma Clarke as part of a raft of appointments.Brock has been appointed production and development executive for the Council's Premiere Fund, a $14m a year tranche of National Lottery cash for films with broad appeal. Brock worked as a development consultant for the fund's head, Robert Jones, and as a creative producer at the Co-production Office in Berlin.Clarke becomes senior executive for the New Cinema Fund, an $8m fund
  • Universal Focus gets US rights to French smash

    Universal Pictures has acquired US distribution rights to Christophe Gans' French blockbuster The Brotherhood Of The Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups) and will release it under its specialised Universal Focus label in late 2001. The $25m film was acquired from StudiCanal, Universal's sister company in Vivendi, and marks the first picture deal concluded between the two companies since Vivendi bought Universal last year.The film was released in France on Jan 31 this year and gross
  • Village makes new retreat from Euro exhibition

    Village Roadshow has sold its sold 13-screen cinema site in Switzerland to Pathe, and its 45 Hungarian screens at six sites to Intercom, its jointventure partner in the region. The company has also offloaded its remaining 50% property interest in Village Entertainment Park to the Pradera European Retail Fund, and will now only lease and manage the Athens cinema."Gross sale proceeds of $46.4m (A$94m) were realised and net proceeds of $22.2m (A$45m) were received after the
  • Vivendi grabs control of Canal Plus Poland

    Vivendi Universal has obtained majority control of Canal Plus Poland, its Polish pay-TV venture. The move is expected to smooth the path towards a full merger of the service with Wyzja, the UPC-owned group of channels.Belgian investment group Deficom sold its stake to Vivendi Universal for Euros90m, while Polish investors Agora and US cable operator Cox Communications also sold their holdings for undisclosed sums.Following the deal Deficom boss Daniel Weekers is resigning his di
  • Wind Dancer & Winchester buy Forever pitch

    LA-based production outfit Wind Dancer Films has purchased the romantic comedy pitch Forever And A Day by Robert Zappia through its development fund with Winchester Films. Zappia, who wrote the story and screenplay for Halloween H:20 will also write the screenplay. He first worked with Wind Dancer principals Matt Williams, David McFadzean and Carmen Finestra when they hired him on staff of their longrunning TV hit Home Improvement.Wind Dancer will produce and Winc
  • Yes TV signs content deals for Hong Hong VoD pilot

    The UK's video-on-demand (VoD) operator, Yes Television has struck deals with Buena Vista International, BBC Worldwide and MTV Networks Asia to supply programming for its new Hong Kong service. Local content is set to come from AOL Time Warner's CETV, Mei Ah Film Production, Universe Films, Sun TV, Regentact and Power TV.Yes will next month launch a pilot of its Hong Kong service that combines true VoD, broadcast TV and internet access. The broadcast element will start off with
  • Zentropa signs worldwide deal with Universal Music

    Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has entered into an exclusive worldwide agreement with Denmark's Zentropa Enterprises to administer its music publishing interests.The deal was struck with Zen Music, the publishing arm of Zentropa. As a result of the deal, UMPG will adminstrate Lars Von Trier's share of the songs from Dancer In The Dark as well as the music to films like Mifune and Von Trier's The Idiots.The Zentropa deal also allows UMPG to represe