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27 August 2002

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  • Antonio Banderas firmly in Tarantula's web

    Antonio Banderas reiterated his interest Thursday in taking a starring role in futuristic film noir Tarantula for director Pedro Almodovar.Speaking at a press conference in Madrid for Imagining Argentina, the film he is currently shooting in Spain and Argentina, Banderas said he had Tarantula scheduled for 2004 in his busy film slate.However, sources at Almodovar's production outfit El Deseo said no concrete plans for the film have yet been made. Tarantul
  • AOL takes back full ownership of Warner Bros, HBO

    AOL Time Warner has taken full control of Time Warner Entertainment (TWE), the business that owns Warner Bros. studios and cable channels HBO, Court TV and Comedy Central, with a $9bn acquisition of the telecommunication giant AT&T's 27% stake.The deal ends two years of negotiations between AOLTW and AT&T over the share holding. AOLTW is offering a mix of its own stock, shares in a new cable TV company as well as around $2bn in cash for the stake. Although the broad framework of
  • Asian films dominate Sitges sidebar

    Asian films form the bulk of titles screening in the animated features sidebar Anima't at the forthcoming Sitges International Film Festival of Catalunya (Oct 3-13).Anima't will also feature more than fifty short films in competition and an homage to Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, whose multiple award-winning Spirited Away (Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi) will screen in both Anima't and the Official Fantastic Section.Barcelona-based company Filmax also announced that it
  • Canada's Telefilm announces management restructure

    Canada's film and television development agency Telefilm has appointed three new management executives as part of plans to improve its "decision-making, processes and overall performance" announced by executive director Richard Stursberg at Banff in June.Paris-based director of Telefilm's European office, Sheila de La Varende moves to a new position of head of international development and promotion. While maintaining her existing European role, she takes on additional responsibility f
  • China Star consolidates ahead of rights issue

    Hong Kong producer-distributor China Star is planning a rights issue to raise around $12m (HK$95m), of which $9.6m (HK$75m) will be pumped into production.However the company is undergoing a capital reorganisation prior to the rights issue due to a collapse in its share price which has slumped from 26 HK cents to less than two HK cents since January. China Star's value was also badly hit by a - since retracted decision - by the Hong Kong stock exchange to de-list low-price and loss-mak
  • Columbia TriStar takes XXX out in Asia, Yugoslavia

    Columbia TriStarFilm Distributors International (CTFDI) launched the first internationalroll-outs of Revolution Studios' XXX over the weekend, scoring modest success in several smallerAsian territories and landing the seventh all-time highest opening inYugoslavia. The Vin Diesel action picture grossed $380,000 in The Philippineson 50 screens; $400,000 including previews from 38 screens in Singapore;$273,000 on 36 screens in Hong Kong and $300,000 from 46 screens in Malaysia.In Yugoslav
  • Denmark's SF Film in Good Company

    As reported by in May, Denmark's leading theatrical distributor, SF Film has launched a new local distribution arm - The Good Company, in order to strengthen its ties with Danish film producers. Susanne Teilmann, former head of programming at Danish broadcaster TV3, has been appointed as film executive, to oversee the start-up and run the company which will launch on September 1.According to Teilmann, Danish film production companies have rarely been involved in
  • DreamWorks refinances, accelerates animated output schedule

    DreamWorks has announced a$1.5bn refinancing package that will enable it to double its animated featureoutput to two or three pictures a year by 2004 and increase by around 30% itsannual live action slate to 10-12 titles by 2005. The deal, unveiled on Friday,comprises a $1bn securitisation and a $500m revolving credit facility thatreplace existing financial arrangements due to expire early next year andextend the studio's access to debt capital until at least October 2007.The asset-bac
  • DreamWorks threatens legal action over web domain name

    Hollywood entertainment studio DreamWorks is threatening an India internet design firm with the legal action for registering the domain name is understood to have instructed lawyers to give the Indian firm - which touts itself as a "full-service design and development company" - just fifteen days to surrender the name.The Indian company however plans to contest the case. If, as expected, the matter goes to court, the outcome is likely to rest on the
  • Edinburgh: Out Of Control wins best British film award

    Dominic Savage's Out Of Control received the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film at the 56th Edinburgh International Film Festival which closed on Sunday with the British premiere of Christopher Nolan's thriller Insomnia. Savage's improvised drama, that tells of a teenage boy whose life is made a living hell when he is sent to a young offenders institute, stars Tamzin Outhwaite and David Morrissey and is scheduled for UK television transmission next month. I
  • Edinburgh: UK creative talent back on song

    What a difference a year makes. Last year at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, there was much talk of a British section that was considered lightweight and lacking in quality. Inevitably, it was seen as a reflection on the whole industry.This year, Morvern Callar, All Or Nothing, Heartlands and My Little Eye are just four of the titles that have underlined the diversity and daring of indigenous film-makers, and suddenly the creative state of the nat
  • Effects gurus launch Uncharted Territory production outfit

    The Academy Award-winning special effects team of Volker Engel (Independence Day) and Marc Weigert today announced the formation of their new production company, Uncharted Territory. Based in Los Angeles, the duo plan to make story-driven motion pictures with cost-effective blockbuster effects. Uncharted Territory's first feature, the action adventure Coronado,recently wrapped in Los Angeles and will shortly begin screenings for domestic and international distributors.
  • Eschbach gets top sales job at TF1 International

    Didier Sapaut, TF1 International's chief executive has announced the appointment of Nicolas Eschbach as senior vice president, replacing Perrine Teze as top salesman at the French broadcast giant's film sales unit. Eschbach was previously senior sales executive at TF1 International, but since 2000 has been based in New York as a consultant to a number of French sales and distribution companies. One of his first tasks will be to accompany Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven to Venice wh
  • German pay-TV network attracts 20 takeover suitors

    Investment bank Morgan Stanley has sent out preliminary sales brochures on Premiere to over 20 as-yet-unnamed parties in a bid to secure take-over bids for the ailing German pay-TV platform.The groups, understood to include financial, venture capital and other media concerns, have between 2-3 weeks to submit provisional offers for the platform that has struggled to attract subscribers in a country that has more than 30 free-to-air channels to chose from.The pay-TV platform, whic
  • Goldwyn acquires Mexican priest scandal smash for US

    Samuel GoldywnFilms has acquired North American rights to Mexican priest-scandal drama TheCrime Of Father Amaro (ElCrimen Del Padre Amaro),which has already been a controversy-fueled smash hit in its home country. The film is slated for US release in late 2002.The $1.8m dramabroke weekend opening records in Mexico after it debuted on Friday, August 16.Out on nearly 400 screens across the country, it grossed 31m pesos ($3.1m)after three days. Padre Amaro has nearly
  • Han Entertainment's The Touch shows eastern promise

    Despite stiff competition from Spider-Man, Han Entertainment's The Touch is continuing to perform strongly in China, where it has grossed $2.7m (RMB22m) after 18 days (August 1-18) from 162 screens. However, the action adventure, which was released day and date in four Asian territories to outsmart mainland pirates, will need legs over its fourth weekend in order to reach Han's expectations of $3.6m (RMB30m). Spider-Man opened in China on August 7 in around 600 fir
  • Heartlands

    Director: Damien O'Donnell. UK. 2002. 98minsAnswering the question of how you follow an international success like East Is East (1999), director Damien O'Donnell's second feature Heartlands is a slow-burning delight that will steal audience hearts just as effectively as his broader, more obviously crowd-pleasing debut. A gentle road movie filled with quirky detours and blinding revelations, it features an outstanding performance from Michael Sheen as the underdog who f
  • Herwitz sells Last Party 2000 to ID in France

    Andrew Herwitz's NewYork-based producers rep outfit The Film Sales Company has closed a sale ofdocumentary Last Party 2000 to IDDistribution in France, just a week before the film screens in the Panoramasidebar of the Deauville Festival Of American Film.The film, directed byDonovan Leitch and Rebecca Chaiklin and produced by Stanley Buchthal, exploreshow the American political process addresses some of the most pressing issuesfacing the country. Narrated on screen by Philip Seym
  • IFC shuts down micro-budget production arm

    IFCEntertainment announced that its low-budget Los Angeles-based production armNext Wave Films is to immediately cease operations as a separate divisionwithin the company. The closureprompted a warning from outgoing Next Wave president Peter Broderick, who saidthere was a "crisis" in independent film distribution that wasstopping most independents from reaching their target audiences. Since 1996, NextWave Films has produced 13 pictures, during which time it financed digitalfeatu
  • Iran acts on domestic film crisis

    The dire predicament of Iran's domestic film production and exhibition industry was highlighted this week when deputy minister of culture Hassan Pezeshk revealed a dramatic fall in domestic box-office which has reached such lows that Iranian citizens spent an average of just 40-minutes last year at the cinema.At a meeting of the Majlis Cultural Commission earlier this week, leading Iranian officials met to discuss the crisis which, they argue, has been exacerbated by a rise in illegall
  • Kirch film and TV assets could find different buyers

    Film investors around the world are hoping to be given the same kind of opportunity as is being dangled in front of TV groups.The KirchMedia group, which is currently in insolvency administration, this week said that it would consider selling off the ProsiebenSAT1 group separately from its other media assets.This is a reversal of the earlier policy, which had seen Kirch insist on selling all its activities to a single buyer or single consortium. And now investors are asking whet
  • Lantana

    Ray Lawrence's critically-acclaimed second feature, Lantana, continued to take Europe by storm at the weekend opening on a platform 16 prints in the UK this week with a resounding $142,409 (£92,566) for distributor Winchester.Scoring a massive per site average of $8,900 the Australian title, which features an ensemble cast including Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey and Anthony LaPaglia, claimed tenth position in the UK/Ireland chart even before it widens its release next weekend to
  • Meistrich sets up Film Movement, specialised distribution by subscriber

    Larry Meistrich, founder ofthe defunct New York production-distribution outfit Shooting Gallery, hasformed a new US distribution outfit called Film Movement chiefly aimed atfestival-winning independents that cannot meet rising marketing costs. FilmMovement will offer film-makers a range of platforms on which to showcasetheatrical-quality, first-run films via a subscription service. Beginning inDecember with Achero Manas' El Bola,which won four Goya Awards in Spain, subscribers w
  • Miller named MD Walt Disney Television Int'l (Asia Pacific)

    Doug Miller has been appointed managing director, Walt Disney Television International (Asia Pacific), having been senior vice president and general sales manager of Buena Vista International Television for Europe, Middle East and Africa.Miller will be responsible for all television activities throughout the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, China and India but excluding Japan and will report directly to David Hulbert, president of Walt Disney Television International (WDTV-I).
  • Moonstone to handle Kaige's Together for worldwide sales

    MoonstoneEntertainment announced today that it will start representing Chen Kaige's Together for worldwide sales ahead of its galaworld premiere at next month's Toronto International Film Festival. The latestfeature from Kaige, whose previous credits include the Miramax-released Farewell,My Concubine - willshowcase under the festival's Masters Series banner on September 10 and will bepresented by Moonstone's Etchie Stroh.Shot on locationin Beijing, Togetherc
  • My Little Eye director, producer plan 'musical verite'

    After receiving a strong positive reaction for their horror title My Little Eye at an audience screening at the 56th Edinburgh Film Festival, director Marc Evans and producer Jon Finn (Billy Elliot) revealed that their next project will be world's apart from the one they are promoting in Scotland. The pair will collaborate again on what Evans describes as "musical verite" - a teen movie set in 1970s Swansea. "I watch a lot of contemporary teen movies like '10 Thing
  • New York festival line-up draws heavily on Cannes favourites

    The full line-up has beenannounced for the prestigious New York Film Festival, whose 40thedition will kick off on Sept 27 with the North American premiere of AlexanderPayne's About Schmidt, for whichactor Jack Nicholson is already drawing considerable Oscar buzz, and close onOct 13th with Talk To Her, the latest film from longtime NYFF favourite Pedro Almodovar.The festival'scenterpiece film is Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, for which Anderson shared the
  • Out Of Control

    Director: Dominic Savage. UK. 2002. 90 minsAn angry, nihilistic drama told with gut-renching conviction, Out Of Control confirms writer-director Dominic Savage as the standard bearer for the raw, social realist traditions established and refined by Ken Loach and the late Alan Clarke. A largely improvised story intended for transmission on UK TV station BBC1 next month, the film completes a trilogy of dramas by Savage portraying the wasted lives and bleak futures facing a gene
  • Palm buys worldwide DVD rights to doc American Mullet

    Palm Pictures has acquiredworldwide DVD rights to Jennifer Arnold's American Mullet. The film explores the history and evolution of theMullet haircut, which is distinguished by a short front and long back. Theproject started out as The Mullet Chronicles, a web-based series that premiered at the SundanceOnline Festival, and eventually became a full-blown documentary feature aboutthe haircut's dispersal among America's diverse ethnic and social groups fromMexican immigrants to Cou
  • Phantom Menace dominates DVD awards in Los Angeles

    Star Wars:Episode I - The Phantom Menace picked up four awards at yesterday's 5th Annual DVD Awards in LosAngeles, dominating a ceremony that saw honours go to old and new titles alike.TwentiethCentury Fox Home Entertainment's Episode I won the Viewers' Choice, Best Menu Design and BestAuthoring awards as well as the accolade for Best Audio Presentation, which ittied with Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Pearl Harbor. Orson Welles's1941 masterpiece Citize
  • Publicity change-around at Universal, MGM

    Universal and MGM separately announced a number of keyappointments today as part of a strategic restructuring of their publicitydepartments. At Universal,Jeffrey Sakson, Stephanie Kluft, Michael Moses and Greg Sucherman were namedsenior publicity executives and will report directly to Universal PicturesMarketing co-president Eddie Egan. Sakson, whojoined the studio's New York office as a staff assistant in 1984, has beennamed senior vice pre
  • Punch Drunk Love to platform straight after New York fest

    Paul ThomasAnderson's Punch Drunk Love will be platform released on October 11 in New York, Los Angelesand Toronto and expand on October 18, Revolution Studios announced today. The romantic comedy, which won Anderson the Director'sAward at the Cannes Film Festival this year, will make its North American debutat the Toronto Film Festival in September. It has also been selected as the centrepiecefilm at the New York Film Festival in October, soon after which it w
  • Red Light Runners shelves plans to raise UK tax vehicle funds

    Red Light Runners, the crime thriller that recently made headlines when it announced a cast including Michael Madsen and Minnie Driver, is understood to have shelved plans to raise its budget through UK tax financing vehicle the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).The film, which is understood to have sent at least some money back to EIS investors, appears to be setting up alternative financing through a patchwork of companies. A spokesperson for the film however, said the produc
  • Redford/Mirren thriller takes Dutch producer to new level

    Dutch producer Pieter Jan Brugge is to take his career to a new level when he makes his directorial debut with the thriller The Clearing. According to Dutch sources, the story of a rich businessman kidnapped by a former employee will star Robert Redford and the UK's Helen Mirren as his wife.Brugge, who has frequently worked in the US - his credits include The Insider, The Pelican Brief and George Sluizer's Spoorloos-remake The Vanishing - also wrote t
  • Revolution renames Lopez, Fiennes romance

    RevolutionStudios has changed the name of its romantic comedy The Chambermaid, starring Jennifer Lopez and RalphFiennes, to Maid In Manhattan. The picture wasco-produced by Shoelace Productions and directed by Wayne Wang, whose previouscredits include Smokeand The Joy Luck Club.Lopez plays amaid in a first class Manhattan hotel who is mistaken for a socialite by theheir to a political dynasty, played by Fiennes. Maid In Manhatta
  • San Sebastian unveils director's award line-up

    Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival has unveiled the 20 titles that will compete for the New Director's Award at this year's 50th anniversary edition (Sept 19-28).The award, sponsored by telecoms provider Jazztel, comes with a purse of Euros 150,000, touted by San Sebastian organizers as the highest prize of any festival award.The line-up, overwhelmingly European in scope, includes only films from first- and second-time directors. Two of the titles will also compet
  • Scooby-Doo heads for $100m in international territories

    Scooby-Doo is poised to break the $100m barrier at theinternational box office for Warner Bros after steady weekend takings across 38territories raised its cumulative score to $99m last weekend. The pictureopened at number one this weekend in Sweden, where it took an estimated$235,000 from 100 screens. Overall the live action adaptation grossed $3.2mfrom 3,257 screens in 38 territories. The picture will roll out in Venezuelanext weekend.Elsewhere, Warner opened itsadventure pict
  • Scorsese, Lynch, Coppola head for Morocco

    A jaw-dropping pageant of international stars is set to take the desert air at the forthcoming Marrakech International Film Festival (Sept 18-22) in Morocco.David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Catherine Deneuve, Edward Yang, Constantin Costa Gavras, Monica Bellucci, Patrice Leconte, Elodie Bouchez and Irene Jacob are scheduled as guests at the second running of the event, which is organised under the personal patronage of Morocco's King Mohammed VI. Prince Moulay Rachid
  • Signs returns to the top after four weekends

    Disney's Signs returned to top spot over the weekend with a $14.3m haul that brings its total after four weekends to $173.m, according to studio estimates released today. The renewed surge by M Night Shyamalan's supernatural thriller spooked Columbia's XXX into second place on $13.7m and a $106.7m cumulative score after three weekends. The Vin Diesel action vehicle is the 13th $100m movie of the year and the fourth to come from Columbia's prized vaults. The three openers to make
  • Sundance Institute among HFPA's new beneficiaries

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) presentednearly half a million dollars in donations to the Sundance Institute and othernon-profit organisations at its annual installation luncheon in Beverly Hillsfor incoming officers. Cameron Diazaccepted a $200,000 cheque on behalf of the Film Foundation Inc while otherrecipients included: Don Cheadle on behalf of Independent Feature Project West;director Alexander Payne on behalf of the Sundance I
  • The Good Thief to open San Sebastian competition

    Neil Jordan's The Good Thief will open the official competition section of this year's 50th anniversary edition of Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28).Thief, which will also screen at next month's Toronto International Film Festival, competes for San Sebastian's top Golden and Silver Shell awards alongside seventeen other films.Prior to the fest's inauguration further titles may be added to the current list, which now includes:Controve
  • The Guru levitates to the top of UK chart

    Working Title and UIP scored yet another hit at the weekend as comedy The Guru claimed $2.3m (£1.5m) to take the UK number one slot away from three-week leader Men In Black II.Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer (Madeline) and starring Jimi Mistry alongside Hollywood stars Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei, The Guru played at 368 sites over the weekend for a strong per site average of $6,285.The Guru led four new entries into this week's ch
  • TLA Releasing takes three for US including Food Of Love, KM 0 from Spain

    TLA Releasing, the oneyear-old Philadelphia-based US distributor specialising in independent, foreignand gay/lesbian-themed films, has picked up rights to three new pictures- Ventura Pons' Spanish drama Food Of Love, Steve Guttenberg's directorial debut PSYour Cat Is Dead! and Yolanda GarciaSerrano and Juan Luis Iborra's Spanish comedy KM. 0. Food Of Love, an English-language adaptation of DavidLeavitt's novel The Page Turner, stars Juliet Stevenson,
  • UK's Ealing Studios to revive St Trinian's comedies

    Ealing Studios, the historic UK film studio at the centre of a £50 million redevelopment plan, is reviving the classic British comedies of St Trinian's.Producer and Ealing co-owner Barnaby Thompson confirmed that Rupert Everett may play the dual roles originally played by Alastair Sim in 1954's The Belles Of St Trinian's: the headmistress and her brother, who helps the riotous girls in their get rich quick gambling escapades. Everett starred in An Ideal Husband and the up
  • Universal Studios faces merger with Malone's cable networks ahead of possible IPO

    John Malone's Liberty Media has reportedly begun exploratory talks with Vivendi Universal with a view to merging some of his cable TV interests with the US entertainment businesses of the beleagured French conglomerate. The combined operation, which would bring Universal Studios, Focus Films and USA Networks under the same roof as the Starz/Encore pay-TV group and the Discovery Channel, would then be spun off in a public float.Vivendi Universal chief executive Jean Rene Fourtou insiste