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27 January 2000

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  • Alta readies first English-language production

    Alta Films' Enrique Gonzalez Macho is developing his first English-language production for the company, Once In Europa. Based on the book by John Berger, the £3.5m ($5.8m) film is planned for a May shoot in Spain. According to international production head Ana San Martin, Alta is in talks with UK and French co-producers on the project.Alta has also joined, as co-producer, the French-language The Revenge Of The Penguin (La Vengeance Du Pingouin) with France's UGC YM
  • American Beauty opens well in Germany

    Even before it scooped three top prizes at the Golden Globe awards last Sunday, Sam Mendes' American Beauty benefited from favourable word-of-mouth in Germany to rack up an impressive screen average of $16,720 over the four-day weekend (January 20-23). The film, which distributor UIP is now sure to widen following its Globes success, was released on 44 prints.Meanwhile, Bernd Eichinger's Constantin Film held on to the two top positions at the German box over the weekend with
  • American Beauty scores at Golden Globes

    American Beauty now officially leads the Oscar race after walking away with the Best Picture (Drama), Best Director and Best Screenplay prizes at the Golden Globe awards ceremony in Los Angeles last night. The DreamWorks SKG-produced film, which only cost $15m to produce, won prizes for producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks and British director Sam Mendes who made his directorial debut on the film.Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 2 was surprise winner of the Best Picture (Musical o
  • American Psycho

    Dir: Mary Harron. Canada/USA. 2000. 104 minsUS Dist: Lions Gate Films. Int'l Sales: Lions Gate. Scr: Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner. Prods: Edward R. Pressman, Chris Hanley, Christian Halsey Solomon. Exec Prods: Michael Paseornek, Jeff Sackman, Joe Drake. DoP: Andrzej Sekula. Prod Des: Gideon Ponte. Main Cast: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon, Samantha Mathis, Chloe Sevigny.It is difficult to imagine a book arriving on the big screen with q
  • Artisan, Intertainer join forces for digital film

    Artisan Entertainment has signed an agreement with broadband content provider Intertainer to jointly develop, produce and distribute five feature-length films to be shot and edited completely in the digital format. Intertainer will show the films on its entertainment-on-demand service while Artisan will retain domestic rights. The features, which will have an average budget of $500,000, may receive a theatrical and/or video outing before they are web-cast on Intertainer's web-site Inte
  • Artisan, Summit team up for Chuck And Buck

    Artisan Entertainment, which last year walked away from Sundance with micro-budget The Blair Witch Project, has done it again, teaming with its foreign sales partner Summit Entertainment to acquire worldwide rights to Chuck And Buck, a low budget comedy which is in dramatic competition at the festival.But unlike Blair Witch which Artisan itself bought for the world and then fed through Summit for international sales, Chuck And Buck is a joint acquisition bet
  • AtomFilms trusts in Sundance short

    In the first internet licensing deal announced at a web-crazed Sundance Film Festival this year, AtomFilms has paid a modest upfront fee to acquire both on- and off-line rights to Jason Reitman's 16 minute short feature, In God We Trust. AtomFilms, a Seattle-based web operation that specialises in distributing short films over the internet including award-winning animations from the UK's Aardman, says there is already interest from a US network in licensing the cable TV rights t
  • Australia gains financier for genre pics

    Australia has gained a new breed of financier - Kirkham Management Limited - which aims to coax private investors to plough funds into genre pictures.Set up by chartered accountant Stephen Kirkham - after spending the last six years planning the move - the outfit aims to fund four pictures annually and cap budgets at A$4.5m. In the past, raising private cash for film-making in Australia has not always been carried out legally and has often been dependent on people with tax probl
  • Belgium caught in funding war

    An angry war of words has broken out among Belgium's regional and national governments over the thorny issue of funding policies for the audio-visual industry.The Walloon regional government unveiled plans this week to allocate an extra BEF400m (euro10m) each year to support the development of a local audio-visual industry. The cash will go to Walloon's regional investment company (SRIW) which is to set up an independent audio-visual division that should be up and running before
  • Benitez seeks fame through start-up outfit

    Spanish producer Cesar Benitez is developing an ambitious international television series - Dreams - about a music and arts school in the style of popular 1980s US series Fame. The project is the first from Benitez's start-up firm, also called Dreams, formed several months ago with Alfredo Fraile, a music scout and one-time agent of Julio Iglesias. The weekly series will be co-produced with as-yet-unnamed Latin American television partners and will star both Spanis
  • Berlin to pay tribute to De Niro

    This year's Berlin International Film Festival (Feb 9-20) will pay tribute to actor Robert De Niro with a special screening of The Deer Hunter on Feb 17 and a selection of eleven other films in which he stars including Bloody Mama (1970), Raging Bull (1980) and Ronin (1998). "We are showing The Deer Hunter as one of the jubilee events since the film plays such an important role in the festival's history," said festival director Moritz de Hadeln.
  • Beyond ups Fletcher to head distribution

    Richard Fletcher has been confirmed as the new distribution manager for Beyond Films, the theatrical releasing arm of the diversified Australian film and TV group that is best known as a sales agent.The role sees Fletcher manage all distribution activities in Australia and New Zealand and take responsibility for the relationship with United International Pictures (UIP). Struck in October last year, this sees UIP handle booking and physical distribution of Beyond's titles, while leaving
  • CineMedia enters rights arena with Icon title

    Germany witnessed the entrance of another aggressive rights buyer this week as leading post-production concern CineMedia unveiled a raft of acquisitions headed by Icon Entertainment International's What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson.CineMedia acquired rights to product with a total production budget of around $240m, taking all-media rights for German-speaking territories for up to 25 years. One reason behind the move appears to have been its in-house on-line company -
  • CLT-Ufa signs five-year output deal with Fox

    Luxembourg-based broadcaster CLT-Ufa has signed a five-year output deal with 20th Century Fox as part of an on-going strategy to consolidate its position in the German free TV market as a competitor to Leo Kirch's family of channels.The deal secures CLT-Ufa rights to Fox features such as Anna And The King, The Beach, Me Myself And Irene and the live-action version of the X-Men comic strip.The agreement will also cover all forthcoming TV product produc
  • Disney appoints Iger to number two post

    Walt Disney Co chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner has named Robert A. Iger as his second-in-command, a post that has been vacant since Mike Ovitz left the company in 1996.Iger, who has been appointed president and chief operating officer, is currently chairman of Disney-owned ABC Group. He has also been appointed to Disney's board. The appointment marks the first time since the death of Frank Wells in 1994 that one executive has held the posts of both president and chief opera
  • Down To You, Next Friday top US box office

    Miramax Films' teen romance Down To You topped the US box office chart over the weekend with an estimated $8.3m, a small margin over last weekend's top film Next Friday, which came in this weekend with an estimated $8.2m.However, Down To You took only half of Miramax's 1999 She's All That which topped the box office almost exactly a year ago (Jan 29-31 weekend) with a $16m opening. That went on to become Miramax's biggest 1999 hit with a box office total of
  • DVD market booming in France

    DVD sales are expanding rapidly in France according to report from local trade body Syndicat de l'Edition Video (SEV). The report found that DVD sales accounted for 16.8% ($83.6m) of French video distributors' sell-through revenues in 1999 compared to just 2.5% in 1998.In total 4.5 millions DVDs were sold in France last year, bringing in revenues that surpass the video rental market. DVD player sales are also buoyant. According to German market research company GfK, France accounted f
  • East writer lines up second project for FilmFour

    Ayub Khan-Din, the playwright and screenwriter behind current UK box office phenomenon East Is East, is re-teaming with the film's backers FilmFour for a romantic comedy.Khan-Din is writing Belmondo Sahib, which is understood to be his first feature after East Is East. The script is the story of an Indian man in England who dreams of being French cinema icon Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of such New Wave films as Breathless (A Bout de Souffle). Unhappily married,
  • EFP unveils Shooting Stars line-up

    Pan-European promotion agency, European Film Promotion (EFP), has revealed this year's line-up of 18 European "Shooting Stars" who will be introduced to the public and international film industry at the Berlin Film Festival on Feb 12/13. (see list below)French actress Jeanne Moreau, who is the subject of a tribute at the festival, will introduce the young actors and actresses at a press conference on Feb 13. On Feb 12, a workshop, chaired by British Screen chief Simon Per
  • Film Consortium's Jimmy Spud gets lottery boost

    The Film Consortium (TFC), the UK National Lottery studio franchise which last week agreed in principle to be bought by production umbrella WhiteCliff, has secured lottery cash worth £1.2m ($1.9m) for its feature Jimmy Spud. The £3.7m ($6m) project, adapted by Lee Hall from his radio play I Luv You, Jimmy Spud, is the story of a boy who believes he can save his dying father if he becomes an angel. Other features awarded lottery support in the latest round of awards
  • FilmFour adds acquisitions chief

    FilmFour, one of the most aggressive UK buyers at recent markets and festivals, is bolstering acquisition activities and has appointed Bobby Allen to the newly-created post of head of acquisition.Allen, formerly managing director of Lion's Gate Films UK, is to make his festival debut for FilmFour at Sundance. His appointment comes as FilmFour looks to dramatically raise the budget levels of its acquisitions to projects and completed titles budgeted at up to $40m."We are looking
  • Flanders chief plans Ghent film commission

    Flanders International Film Festival director Jacques Dubrulle is drawing up plans that could lead to Ghent becoming the first Belgian city to launch a film commission. Dubrulle, who was approached by the Ghent city authorities to help with the project, put Ghent on the map as home for the Flanders Film Festival after the ratings success of Flikken (Cops). The Flemish Cagney And Lacey-like TV series is set in Ghent. Besides offering financial support, the proposed
  • France, Germany team up for promotional activity

    French state film body CNC will support the activities of Hamburg-based pan-European promotion agency European Film Promotion (EFP) in the second half of 2000 when France has the presidency of the European Commission.CNC will support EFP's activities outside of Europe. The move was prompted by French culture minister Catherine Trautmann who recently called on the CNC to collaborate with EFP on strategy for a presence at the Karlovy Vary, Pusan and Toronto festivals.Trautmann sai
  • Gaga set for Japan's first digital screenings

    Japan's Gaga Communications plans to start public screenings of computer-graphics animation A*LI*CE from February 25, using a digital projection system that operates without film. The screenings will mark the first time a digital film has been released theatrically in Japan. Gaga also produced A*LI*CE, a sci-fi drama which is directed by Kenichi Maejima.Screenings will be held once a day at the Joy Cinema 3 theatre in Tokyo's Shinjuku district. The projector will b
  • Highlight to fire with Newell's Fifty Cannon

    Swiss distributor and rights trader Highlight Communications has boosted its international profile by signing a three-year output deal with UK director Mike Newell's start-up outfit Fifty Cannon Entertainment. Highlight will take all rights in German-speaking territories to Fifty Cannon's slate and also has the option to co-produce certain projects, acquiring additional European rights in all media. Fifty Cannon plans to produce between six and nine features during the course of
  • IBB pumps $15m into Berlin Animation Fund

    Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) has become the latest German bank to get involved in Germany's private media fund sector by investing DM30m ($15.4m) in the DM168m ($86m) Berlin Animation Film (BAF) fund, launched at the end of last year by London-based Kleinwort Benson.Kleinwort Benson, part of the Dresdner Bank Group, reports that the planned first tranche of DM34m ($17.5m) was substantially over-subscribed after just two weeks in the market in December. A second tranche of DM104m ($53.
  • Igel, Xilam join forces for Gaumont library

    German family entertainment rights trader Igel Media and the French production studio Xilam have joined forces to acquire more than 200 animation episodes from the Gaumont Multimedia library.The deal, which includes such internationally successful series as Sky Dancers, Dragon Flyz and Space Goofs (aka Home To Rent), includes all rights globally and gives Igel exclusive world distribution rights to the package. Gaumont has been commissioning the series since 1995 f
  • Intermedia appoints Meyer as development executive

    Intermedia Films has appointed Sophie Meyer as development executive at its London office, co-chairmen Guy East and Nigel Sinclair have announced.Meyer, who was previously development assistant at UK funding body British Screen, will report to department head Nick Drake. Intermedia's UK production activities include backing Ruth Jackson's West Eleven Films; Kenneth Branagh's The Shakespeare Film Company; Peter Howitt and Douglas McFerran's Power Pictures; and Anand Tucker, Frank Cottre
  • Intermedia, Pacifica unveil merger plans

    An imminent merger between Guy East and Nigel Sinclair's Intermedia Film and Los Angeles-based Pacifica Entertainment is set to create a division within Intermedia armed with a new $100m production fund.Under the anticipated deal, production, distribution and financing outfit Pacifica will bring a fund backed by German tax money to the table. Pacifica, which is already backed by a tax-fund called the International Media Fund, expects to launch the new cash pool - titled IMF II - this s
  • Intern

    Dir: Michael Lange. USA. 1999. 90 mins.Prod Cos: Moonstone Entertainment, Given Films. Prods: Galt Neiderhoffer, Etchie Stroh, Daniela Soto-Taplin. Co-prods: Karen Jaroneski, Alex Orlovsky. Exec prod: Randy Simon. Scr: Caroline Doyle, Jill Kopelman. DoP: Rodney Charters. Prod des: Jody Asnes. Ed: Anita Brandt-Burgoy. Mus: Jimmy Harry. Main cast: Dominique Swain, Ben Pullen, Peggy Lipton, Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin.Working Girl meets Absolutely Fabulous in this frothy, fas
  • International buyers step up at Sundance

    It's not just domestic buyers who are putting up millions for premiere pictures at Sundance anymore. Yesterday Lions Gate Films made its first ever worldwide acquisition - American Spectrum title Two Family House - while Fiona Mitchell of United Artists Films (UAF) was reportedly set to buy international rights to competition favourite Girlfight.Girlfight - an emotive and powerful story of a New York teenager from the projects who finds hope as an amateur boxer - i
  • Joe Gould's Secret

    Dir: Stanley Tucci. USA. 1999. 107 mins.Prod Co: October Films, Bohemian Productions. Int'l sales: Good Machine International. Prods: Beth Alexander, Stanley Tucci, Charles Weinstock. Exec prod: Chrisann Verges, Mike Leiber. Scr: Howard A. Rodman, from the book by Joseph Mitchell. DoP: Maryse Alberti. Prod des: Andrew Jackness. Ed: Suzy Elmiger. Mus: Evan Lurie. Main cast: Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis.Crafted with tender, loving care and impeccably acted throughout
  • Le Studio grabs Tao for multiple territories

    France's Le Studio Canal Plus has caught the deal-making fever present among international buyers at this year's Sundance, snapping up multiple territory rights on Jenniphr Goodman's The Tao Of Steve from Good Machine International.Le Studio has acquired rights for France, Germany, Spain, Benelux and Switzerland to the film, a competition title that attracted early heat here at Sundance. In France the picture will be distributed by Bac Distribution, the recently created venture
  • Maths may improve exhibitors' bottom line

    Choose fewer "right" movies and show them longer: in the tight margin world of exhibition, this may become a mantra. Three academics who collaborated at the University of British Columbia have developed a mathematical programme that helps exhibitors determine which films to run, if and when to replace them and how long to play them. Their research, just published in the journal Marketing Science, suggests a multiplex's profit margins can be increased by between 30% and 100%."In some r
  • Mendel's sixth sense makes him partner Noonan

    Barry Mendel, one of the producers on The Sixth Sense, is working with writer/director Chris Noonan on an adaptation of the novel Rule Of The Bone by Russell Banks, who also wrote the book on which The Sweet Hereafter was based. Sydney-based Noonan's most recent credit as a director was on Babe, Australia's third biggest hit of all time after Titanic and Crocodile Dundee. He co-wrote Babe with Dr George Miller who directed the much less
  • MGM mulls restructure of United Artists Films

    In reaction to the increasingly problematic international sales landscape, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is looking to strike long-term output arrangements in major territories for films from its United Artists specialty label. That means a major restructure at its London-based sales and acquisitions operation London-based United Artists Films (UAF), run by sales veterans Wendy Palmer and Fiona Mitchell, but talking at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, MGM worldwide distribution chief Larr
  • MGM wins back German pay-TV rights

    MGM has regained further control of its extensive film library by renegotiating a deal with Degeto, the rights trading associate of German public channel ARD. Titles returning to MGM include Raging Bull, Moonstruck and Midnight Cowboy, as well as some Rocky and Pink Panther pictures.The new deal sees MGM able to relicense some 426 film titles into the German pay-TV market from this month and converts the Degeto arrangement into a non-exclusive one. In
  • NATPE: Beresford boards Coote/Hayes' Fatal Shore

    Coote/Hayes Productions has added two high-profile TV movies to its expanding slate of film and TV productions and has confirmed Bruce Beresford as director of its four-hour miniseries The Fatal Shore.Jeffrey Hayes, Coote/Hayes Prods co-founder, revealed that the firm has optioned Bio Hazard, a novel written by Russian scientist Ken Alibek that will be filmed under the title Soft Kill. It charts the Cold War collision course than nearly led Russia to releasing anthrax in
  • NATPE: Carlton picks up world rights to Wilderness

    Carlton America has picked up worldwide distribution rights to Wilderness Love, a TV movie which stars Valerie Bertinelli.The picture to be produced by Grossbart/Barnett Productions in association with Carlton America, will get its US premiere on CBS later this year. The story is about three children who rekindle love between their divorced parents.Wilderness Love joins a TV movie slate recently expanded by the addition of Sean Young and Rhea Perlman-starrer Pai
  • NATPE: Film Co expands slate with Palm Pictures

    UK sales and finance boutique The Film Co has picked up international sales duties to a package of films from Chris Blackwell's Palm Pictures. The five Lady Ninja pictures are produced by Japan's Tohokushinsha Film Corp and were financed by Palm. Palm will retain US rights for distribution through its own-brand releasing operation, giving The Film Co world rights outside the US, Japan and the UK, where Palm affiliate Manga Pictures will distribute."These pictures are the
  • NATPE: ONDA set to march to different drummer

    ONDA Digital is a broadcaster that wants to do things differently. And in doing so it is likely to bring a sigh of relief to film sellers who have recently seen prices plateau.But, as the operator of only the second digital terrestrial television network in Europe after the UK's ONdigital, ONDA first of all has to explain the different set of rules it operates under. It then has to go head-to-head with two well-capitalised and aggressive satellite platforms; Telefonica's Via Digital an
  • News In Brief

    UPC launches bond programmeLONDON: United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC), the Dutch cable operator, has launched a $1.6bn bond programme, the largest-ever high-yield bond deal from a European company. The rapidly expanding UPC previously raised $1.5bn last July. UPC, now Europe's second largest MSO, is one of the bidders for Deutsche Telekom's cable network, and is seeking to increase its stake in Germany's PrimaCom, which it bought last December. It is also believed to be in
  • News In Brief

    UPC launches bond programmeLONDON: United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC), the Dutch cable operator, has launched a $1.6bn bond programme, the largest-ever high-yield bond deal from a European company. The rapidly expanding UPC previously raised $1.5bn last July. UPC, now Europe's second largest MSO, is one of the bidders for Deutsche Telekom's cable network, and is seeking to increase its stake in Germany's PrimaCom, which it bought last December. It is also believed to be in
  • Paramount bags more rights to Sunshine

    Paramount Classics has acquired rights in Japan, Australia and New Zealand to Istvan Szabo's epic drama Sunshine, following its US acquisition of the movie after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last year. The film, which was produced by Alliance Atlantis Communications and Robert Lantos' Serendipity Point Films, is a three-hour saga about three generations of a Jewish family in Hungary. It stars Ralph Fiennes in three different roles as well as Rachel Weisz, Jenn
  • Rated X

    Dir: Emilio Estevez. USA. 1999. 113 mins.Prod Co: District. Prods: Dick Berg, Allan Marcil. Co-prod: Lisa Niedenthal. Scr: Norman Snider, Anne Meredith, David Hollander. DoP: Paul Sarossy. Prod des: John Dondertman. Ed: Craig Bassett. Mus: Tyler Bates. Main cast: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Tracy Hutson, Rafer Weigel, Megan Ward, Terry O'Quinn, Peter Bogdanovich.Consisting largely of reheated leftovers from Boogie Nights and Larry Flynt, Rated X
  • Sharmill, Champion continue French-language vein

    Australia's Sharmill Films and Champion Pictures have bought Australian rights to writer-director Radu Mihaileanu's World War II story Train Of Life from Menemsha Entertainment. The film was included in the programme of last year's French Film Festival and is set to get a mid-year release. Sharmill has a long history of distributing French films. Its most recent release was Francis Veber's The Dinner Game which has grossed A$400,000 in its first five weeks in Australia; a
  • Sixth Sense now in all-time worldwide top ten

    The Sixth Sense, the supernatural thriller starring Bruce Willis and critically acclaimed youngster Haley Joel Osment, is still raking in box office revenue from around the world. After a spectacular opening in Spain last week and a third week at the top of the French box office, the film's tally is close $550m. This earns it tenth place in the all-time top 10 worldwide chart, ousting The Empire Strikes Back which took a total of $538.4m from its 1980 and 1997 releases. And with
  • Sleepy Hollow keeps Stigmata off UK top spot

    Competition for the number one slot was as intense as ever over the weekend (Jan 21-23) at the UK box office, with the top three films all grossing within £100,000 ($165,000) of each other. Stigmata (pictured), the supernatural thriller starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne, broke into the UK chart with a three-day gross of £1m ($1.6m) despite being critically panned by the British press. It wasn't enough however to displace the new year sleeper Sleepy Hollow from
  • Soccer pic producers score in battle against BSkyB

    UK film-making duo Mary McGuckian and John Lynch have succeeded in their bid to prevent satellite broadcaster BSkyB from carrying the film Best on one of its movie channels.The duo secured a court injunction against the satellite powerhouse in the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday to prevent the film from hitting television screens on March 12. The injunction will mean the film is not aired before May this year and gives McGuckian and Lynch the opportunity to secure UK theatrica
  • Sony Classics gets in the Groove

    Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) has paid $1.5m to buy worldwide rights to rave drama Groove, the directorial debut of editor Greg Harrison, which is playing in the American Spectrum section of this year's Sundance Film Festival.Set over the course of one night, Groove follows a disparate group of characters as they prepare to go to a rave gathering. Harrison wrote, directed, co-produced and edited the film which stars Lola Glaudini, Hamish Linklater, Denny Kirkwood and Steve
  • Spain scraps European film quotas

    The Spanish government has decided to do away with a controversial quota system which requires exhibitors to programme one day of European cinema for every two days of films from other countries.The quotas will be gradually diminished and rendered invalid over the course of the next five years.According to Spain's education and culture minister Mariano Rajoy, the dissolution of the quotas is possible because of rising audience interest in Spanish and independent European cinema.
  • Spanish cinema-going amongst highest in Europe

    Cinema attendance is higher in Spain than in most of Europe according to a report from Spain's General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE) on the cultural consumption habits of Spaniards. Spaniards go to the movies on average 2.85 times per year, the report says, a figure well above the European average of 2.18 and the average for countries such as the UK (2.29) and Italy (1.96).The report also confirms what film professionals in Spain already know: that their target audience
  • Svensk moves into Norwegian exhibition

    Svensk Filmindustri Norge (SF Norge), the Norwegian arm of Scandinavian distributor Svensk Filmindustri, has unveiled plans to move into exhibition by opening cinemas in seven Norwegian cities.SF Norge plans to run the chain in partnership with local authorities which have traditionally been responsible for operating cinemas in Norway. The distributor, which revealed its plans at Norway's Tromso International Film Festival last week, said it is in talks with local authorities about sec
  • Swank to be star at ShoWest

    Hilary Swank, the Golden Globe-winning actress who is leading the Oscar race for her portrayal of Brandon Teena, has been named "Female Star Of Tomorrow" at this year's ShoWest 2000.She will receive the award at the event's March 9 ceremony at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, joining other winners who include Drew Barrymore (Comedy Star Of The Year), Anthony Minghella (Director Of The Year) and Jim Carrey (Male Star Of The Year).Meanwhile Tim Warner, president of Cinemar
  • Tartan Films, Muse team up for London Fields

    An $8-12m adaptation of well-known UK writer Martin Amis' novel London Fields heads the second development slate of Hamish McAlpine's Tartan Films, the Los Angeles-based sister company of UK distributor Metro Tartan Distribution.Tartan has jointly acquired rights to the book with US production outfit Muse Productions, which has credits including American Psycho and Buffalo 66. The novel revolves around a psychic, Nicola Six, working class darts champ Keith and posh family
  • Toy Story 2 set for digital release

    Five European exhibitors plan a digital release of Toy Story 2 from February 2, which will mark the first time a major studio film has been released digitally outside North America. The unprecedented venture is co-sponsored by Disney and Technicolor's digital projection company Real Image.France's Gaumont and Bert/Claeys Group will host the first digital projections, screening Toy Story 2 via Texas Instruments' projection technology at Gaumont's Aquaboulevard cinema and B
  • Two Family House

    Dir: Raymond DeFelitta. USA. 1999. 104 mins.Prod Co: Filbert Steps. Prods: Anne Harrison, Alan Klingstein. Exec prods: Jim Kohlberg, Adam Brightman. Scr: Raymond DeFelitta. DoP: Michael Mayers. Prod des: Teresa Mastropierro. Ed: David Leonard. Mus: Stephen Endelman. Main cast: Michael Rispoli, Kelly Macdonald, Katherine Narducci, Kevin Conway, Matt Servitto.If small-scale human interest dramas are out of fashion then somebody forgot to tell the makers of this persuasive l
  • Via Digital subscriber gains fuel merger talks

    Spanish digital satellite platform Via Digital announced a 30% rise in subscribers over the last six months, bringing its total to 450,000. Though the numbers fall short of competitor Canal Satelite Digital's (CSD) 825,000 subscribers, Via is showing a faster rate of growth as well as a slight rise in audience shares.Analysts suggest the news of Via's rising competitiveness could result in a renewal of merger talks between the two platforms. Rumours that Telefonica is negotiating a pur
  • Video Networks boosts film slate with studio deals

    Video Networks, the UK company that operates video-on-demand (VoD) service Homechoice, has struck feature film deals with Buena Vista International Television and Columbia TriStar International Television.Pictures covered in the deal include foreign-language Oscar-winner Life Is Beautiful, Central Station and The Waterboy. The new contracts lift Homechoice's film slate to more than 500 titles.Hugh Williams, Video Networks director of programming, said that
  • Wajda to receive honorary Oscar

    Veteran Polish film-maker Andrzej Wajda will be presented with an honorary Oscar at this year's Academy Award ceremony which takes place in Los Angeles on March 26. Wajda has been selected for the honour for a career that has included some of the most important European films of the post-war era including The Maids Of Wilko (1979), Danton (1982) and his ground-breaking political duo Man Of Marble (1977) and Man Of Iron (1981) which were controversial portrai
  • Whalley takes reins at Portman Film

    Tristan Whalley has been appointed managing director of Portman Film, the film division of Portman Entertainment, which is basking in yesterday's Sundance sale of North American rights to its $6m comedy Saving Grace to Fine Line Features for $4m.Whalley, former marketing chief at Majestic Films And Television and subsequently CEO of sales and production outfit North And South, joins the company officially in a week which sees not only the Saving Grace sale but also intens
  • Wiser to drive Modern Times int'l expansion

    MTG Media Properties, part of Sweden's Modern Times Group conglomerate, has upped its international expansion drive by appointing Michael Wiser as its new chairman and CEO.Under Wiser, MTG Media is expected to increase its acquisition of contemporary English-language films and to buy companies involved in distribution, production and film library sales.Wiser recently operated his own company Blue Suit Entertainment, which handled library sales of feature films to TV. He was prev
  • Zentropa sets up international arm

    Peter Aalbaek Jensen, co-founder and producer at progressive Danish production outfit Zentropa, is setting up an offshoot - Zentropa Internationale - to oversee projects for the company not originating in DenmarkOle Sondberg will head up the new outfit's financial department while Lars Duus will steer the drama department. Sondberg and Duus were both formerly with now Egmont-owned Victoria Film.The company, which will be based at Copenhagen's Filmbyen film-making centre, will wo