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28 April 2000

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  • Actor Grant to direct for Blackjack

    Hilary Heath's recently formed London-based production outfit Blackjack is to produce Wah Wah, directed by UK actor Richard E Grant.The project, currently in advanced development, is the autobiographical story of growing up in the 60s in South Africa. Blackjack, which is one of the production companies backed by UK media concern WhiteCliff Film And Television, aims to shoot the project this year. Starting shooting next month for WhiteClff, which is taking over UK National Lotter
  • Atlas picks up Constantin's Harte Jungs

    Germany's Atlas International has picked up worldwide sales rights to Constantin Film's latest German box office hit, Ants In The Pants (Harte Jungs), directed by Marc Rothemund.The comedy, about a teenage boy's sexual awakening, is being unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival where it will be screened with English subtitles. "Some buyers were disappointed they couldn't see the film at the recent MIP-TV market," said Atlas president Dieter Menz. "But we believe Cannes, and
  • Barrandov Studios set to change owners

    Prague's legendary AB Barrandov Studios is close to changing hands, according to local newspaper reports.Owner Moravia Steel is understood to be weeks away from closing a deal with a consortium of North American film industry investors known as the Kodiak Group. The deal would end Moravia's four-year search for an investor to buy its 80% share in Barrandov, one of the largest studios in Europe.But other potential deals have fallen flat because of price and company control issues
  • BT signs up with, atomfilms

    British Telecommunications (BT) has entered into an agreement in principle with US entertainment-based internet site to distribute content across its multiple internet platforms including narrowband ISP, broadband DSL access and wireless WAP technologies in the UK.And BT has also struck a deal with AtomFilms, the online short film distributor/exhibitor, to supply eight films a month for the next 18 months over its broadband consumer service (BT Internet Bro
  • Cabanillas quits RTVE for government post

    In an unexpected announcement yesterday, Pio Cabanillas, general director of public broadcaster Radio Television Espanola (RTVE), was appointed spokesperson of the recently re-elected government of Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar.Cabanillas was recruited to RTVE in 1998 from his post as director of international relations at Grupo PRISA. He has worked to reduce the broadcasters' phenomenal debt, defending RTVE's controversial policy of accepting both public monies and private advert
  • Canada launches documentary market

    This year's edition of North America's largest documentary film festival, the Canadian International Documentary Festival (May 1-7), marks the launch of a documentary financing market, the Toronto Documentary Forum.The two-day event, modelled on the successful Forum for International Co-Financing of Documentaries in Amsterdam, will see 36 production teams pitching their projects to commissioning editors and other documentary financiers. Potential funding sources attending the pitching
  • Canal Plus, CLT-Ufa discuss link-up

    French pay-TV giant Canal Plus and Luxembourg-based broadcaster CLT-Ufa - which is merging with the UK's Pearson Television - are in talks about a potential co-operation in the areas of TV rights acquisition and production.Speaking at a shareholders meeting on April 28, Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure stressed that there were "complementaries between the two groups" and that CLT-Ufa's merger with Pearson gave such talks a "certain urgency". Canal Plus and CLT-Ufa have similar
  • Cannes unveils Directors' Fortnight

    Bulging with the most titles to ever screen in the section, Cannes' Directors' Fortnight unveiled its 32nd edition on Wednesday.Highlights in the section, which takes place 11 - 21 May, are expected to be Karen Kusama's Girlfight, which wowed critics and buyers alike at its Sundance premiere; Silvio Soldini's Bread And Tulips, which cleaned up at this week's David Di Donatelli awards in its native Italy; and Oskar Roehler's Die Unberuehrbar.From the Asia-Pac
  • CineMedia strikes output deal with Buena Vista

    Germany's CineMedia has secured an output deal for theatrical distribution in German-speaking territories of its film titles with Buena Vista International. The long-term deal covers all current feature films where CineMedia has German territorial rights and kicks off with What Women Want, the Mel Gibson film that goes into production this summer."Following the purchase of our first Hollywood film package at the beginning of the year, this long-term co-operation deal firm
  • Committed

    Dir: Lisa Krueger. US. 2000. 98 mins.Prod co: Miramax Films. US dist: Miramax Films. Int'l sales: Miramax International (1) 212 219 4100. Prods: Dean Silvers, Marlen Hecht. Exec prods: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Jonathan Gordon, Amy Slotnick. Scr: Lisa Krueger. DoP: Tom Krueger. Prod des: Sharon Lomofsky. Ed: Curtis Clayton, Colleen Sharp. Mus: Calexico. Main cast: Heather Graham, Casey Affleck, Luke Wilson, Goran Visnic, Patricia Velasquez, Alfonso Arau, Mark Ruffalo, Clea Du
  • Dubinet to head IAC America

    UK-based sales and financing house IAC Holdings has launched US division IAC America under sales veteran Ann Dubinet.Dubinet joins as president of the Los Angeles-based operation, as well taking a seat on the board at IAC. She will continue working for Alchemy Entertainment, her 50-50 partnership with producer Martin Bregman. IAC and Alchemy expect to partner on projects on a title-by-title basis, possibly with IAC taking international rights while a US studio handles domestic.D
  • Fire And Sword's Jerzy Hoffman readies Quo Vadis

    Jerzy Hoffman, the director of last year's runaway Polish hit With Fire And Sword, is to start shooting next month on the country's biggest production to date, the $12m Quo Vadis.The project, based on the Nobel Prize-winning book by Henryk Sienkiewicz, is scheduled to go into production on May 8. The plot follows the development of early Christianity during the reign of the Romanemperor Nero.Chronos Film is producing, with co-producers including Telewizja Po
  • Golan's Back! FilmWorld launches at Cannes

    Menahem Golan is back - again - with a new company FilmWorld and his years-in-the-making version of Crime And Punishment almost ready for unveiling. Teaming with Eugeny Afineevsky, his executive vice president and head of business affairs, and Eddie Avalos, vice president and head of international sales, Golan has two projects planned with Sean Young as well as a reworking of classic thriller M, this time set in Los Angeles and starring Eric Roberts and Rutger Hauer.Golan, who has bee
  • Golden Harvest, East-West to create Chinese portal

    Hong Kong-based Golden Harvest Group and shareholder Acer Digital Services Group have joined forces with East-West Entertainment and Morning Technologies to form, an entertainment portal to target the global Chinese community. The HK$200m investment will go towards three portals with localised content to service the China, Hong Kong and Taiwan markets. It will offer music downloads and work as an umbrella for Asian talent. The site will also feature online karaoke and comp
  • Intermedia, Pacifica bare flotation teeth

    Despite the recent stockmarket storms, International Media, the newly-renamed German company formed from the merger of the UK's Intermedia Film Equities and Los Angeles-based Pacifica, is pressing ahead with flotation plans. The aggressive sales process could see the company triple its share capital. Some 5.6 million shares in the new company will be sold to institutional investors at an as yet undetermined price. This will increase the total share capital to some 8.97 million shares f
  • Japan's MPT asks government to carry digital costs

    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has proposed that the Japanese government should shoulder the cost of the country's transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting, which is scheduled to begin in 2003. Representatives from the MPT, public broadcaster NHK and the commercial networks presented estimates of the cost to a ruling party sub-committee for upgrading Japan's broadcasting infrastructure, on April 25. In turn, the sub-committee decided to ask the government
  • Kevin And Perry goes large at UK cinemas

    The opening three day gross of Kevin And Perry Go Large has given Icon Film Distribution its first box office hit and number one film in the UK. The comedy teenage duo took $3.2m (£2m) over the Easter weekend (April 21-23). Playing on 336 screens, the British adaptation of a TV comedy sketch, which stars Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke, scored a substantial site average of $9,536 (excluding previews of $600,000). The distributor's first release - and previously most successful - was
  • Kinowelt, BAC talk distribution partnership

    Germany's Kinowelt Medien is in talks with French distributor BAC Films about joining Kinowelt's proposed international distribution network.Kinowelt, which could feed its partners with films from its recently struck deal with US producer Gale Anne Hurd, is also in talks with potential partners in Italy and Spain, where Lolafilms is a likely candidate. Kinowelt already has a partnership with Canada's Alliance Atlantis in the UK along with its own distribution and partnerships and joint
  • Liliana Cavani to direct Fine Line's Ripley's Game

    Liliana Cavani, the Italian director behind The Night Porter who hasn't made a film since 1993, has boarded Fine Line Features' Ripley's Game - an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's classic novel which follows Tom Ripley 25 years after the events portrayed in The Talented Mr Ripley.Cavani is supervising a script rewrite and has agreed to direct the movie which is being overseen by Fine Line's London-based senior vice president of European production Ileen Maisel.
  • Location: Fiji

    Fiji is launching a series of initiatives aimed at attracting film-makers including 100-150% tax deductions and a film studio.The government of the group of Pacific islands is expected to pass legislation in May allowing for tax deductions of 100-150% for capital investment in projects. At least 35% of the investment must be spent locally in the case of film, and 50% in the case of music or e-commerce. Companies and individuals who base themselves in the zone will also have tax free s
  • Loews Cineplex gets Village's Riches

    A further management shake-up at Village Cinemas International (VCI) has taken place with the announcement that Loews Cineplex International (LCI) has appointed Ian Riches as senior vice president, commencing May 1. Riches, formerly regional director - Europe for VCI based in the London office, will initially be working in Rome, focusing on the development and expansion of LCI's Italian and Turkish operations. Prior to Village Cinemas, Riches worked for United Cinemas International (U
  • MacDowell joins FilmFour's Sad Fuckers Club

    Andie MacDowell is to star in FilmFour's UK comedy Sad Fuckers Club (working title) alongside Imelda Staunton and Anna Chancellor.The film is the story of three female friends behaving badly. Newcomer John McKay, who has made a mark through shorts such as Doom & Gloom and Wet & Dry, is to direct from his own script. The film is to start shooting in June, with McKay's longstanding collaborator Lee Thomas producing. FilmFour has also confirmed that Gillian Arm
  • MGM extends Showtime domestic pay-TV deal to 2008

    US pay TV operation Showtime Networks has extended a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) for current and future theatrical output, certain library titles and a commitment to co-produce three new television series.The new deal, which builds on an existing arrangement between the two companies, will run through Dec 31, 2008. Showtime will have exclusive US pay TV rights to all MGM pictures theatrically released through Dec 31, 2008.Among the pictures included in the deal are Aut
  • Michael Silberman to run new US distributor IDP

    Michael Silberman has been named COO and president of distribution and marketing at IDP - Independent Distribution Partners - the newly formed North American distribution joint venture between CanWest Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Films and Stratosphere Releasing.Silberman was previously senior vice president of distribution at October Films where he was responsible for the theatrical releases of hit pictures including Secrets And Lies, The Apostle and Breaking The Waves. He also prev
  • Murdoch buys 34% of Germany's TM3 channel

    Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is buying a 34% stake in German TV-channel TM3 from Germany's Tele-Muenchen Group for $168m, taking over the operation 100%.Despite repeated denials that he was considering the move, Tele-Muenchen managing director Herbert Kloiber is reportedly selling his stake after repeated attempts to find an audience for the channel. TM3, originally launched as a women's channel, became a sports outlet in its latest incarnation.TM3's head of sports Michael Pfad to
  • New Legend Media capitalised as Euro buying power

    A new multi-territory German-backed buyer has emerged in New Legend Media AG, a privately held production and distribution outfit founded from the merger of Munich-based ACC Entertainment and LA-based Legend Entertainment.Two German venture capital companies - Hamburg-based GBK Beteiligungen and Munich-based CEA - have joined the consortium of private investors backing New Legend. Other shareholders include Tom Berry of Legend, Al Munteanu and Peter Popp of ACC and Canadian production
  • New Zealand's First Sun makes film push with Lies

    New Zealand production outfit First Sun has unveiled its debut feature development slate which includes an adaptation of Michelanne Forster's play Castle Of Lies.The play, set in the 1890s, revolves around the true story of charismatic politician William Larnach who blew his brains out in the New Zealand Parliament, an action partly driven by his much younger wife falling in love with his son. Yvonne Mackay is set to direct the project from a script by UK writer Emma Frost. Fros
  • Optimum to give Best theatrical outing

    Production company Best Films and Sky Pictures, the feature arm of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB, have settled a legal dispute over the release of soccer picture Best.Sky and the film's producer-director Mary McGuckian and producer-star John Lynch have agreed to a simultaneous outing for the picture in cinemas through distributor Optimum Releasing and on Sky. The move comes after McGuckian and Lynch secured a court injunction against the satellite powerhouse to stop the film be
  • Pop group 'N Sync to promote first film at Cannes

    'N SYNC - the US boyband phenomenon - will make its first feature film for LA-based independent production outfits Total Film Group and Phat Free Productions, it was announced yesterday.And the group, which performed with Gloria Estefan at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, will be attending this year's Cannes Film Festival for a party and further announcements about the film on May 16.'N SYNC are currently at the top of the US album charts with No Strings Attached which has
  • Preferisco Il Rumore Del Mare

    Dir: Mimmo Calopresti. Italy-France. 2000. 90 mins.Prod cos: Biancafilm, Mikado. Co-prod: RAI, Arcapix (Fr). Domestic dist: Mikado. Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams (+33 1 49 70 03 70). Prods: Donatella Botti, Roberto Cicutto, Luigi Musini. Dir: Mimmo Calopresti. Scr: Calopresti, Francesco Bruni. DoP: Luca Bigazzi. Prod des: Alessandra Marrazzo. Ed: Massimo Fiocchi. Music: Franco Piersanti. Main cast: Silvio Orlando, Michele Raso, Paolo Cirio, Fabrizia Sacchi, Mimmo Calopresti.
  • Production report: Canada tightens public funding

    Film production is starting to buzz for some Canadian producers, with the impending warm weather. But for those hoping to make films in 2001 it is becoming increasingly complicated to secure public financing. Since 1999 federal funder Telefilm Canada's regulations have required producers to supply projected audience ratings and rate recoupment figures when applying for funding. Meanwhile, the Canadian Television Fund - which TV and film producers have come to rely on - was oversubscribed in t
  • Randy Greenberg joins refinanced - an online full-length film distribution platform for independent film-makers - has closed a $5m round of financing, relocated from Cincinatti to San Francisco and hired former MGM international theatrical marketing executive Randy Greenberg as new head of marketing.Former Inktomi executive Anthony Soohoo has also joined the company as head of business development and strategic alliancesFormerly known as, the company has sourced its new
  • Redbus takes theatrical on Intertainment package

    UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution has picked up all rights to a 15-strong package of star-laden pictures from Germany's Intertainment ahead of its float in the second quarter this year.The films, which are in addition to a sixty-plus package of titles from Intertainment for Video-On-Demand (Screen Daily April 7), include 3000 Miles To Graceland, with Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell; The Big Kahuna, with Danny DeVito and Kevin Spacey; Things You Can Tell Jus
  • Russian Oscars fete outsiders

    Alexei German's Khrustalyov, My Car hit open road at the Russian Oscars after the event was snubbed by leading Russian directors Nikita Mikhalkov and Alexander Sukorov, who refused to allow their films to compete. Khrustalyov, a black and white film which screened in competition in Cannes two years ago, received five prizes including best film at the 13th edition of the annual film awards of the Russian Academy of Motion Picture Arts. The story of a doctor living during t
  • Sogepaq counts Ephron's Numbers for Spain

    Spanish rights and acquisitions house Sogepaq has picked up all rights for Spain on forthcoming Nora Ephron film Numbers, produced by Paramount and set to star John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth and Bill Pullman.The pick-up was made through the joint acquisitions venture which Sogepaq launched last October with Canal Plus Image, subsidiary of the Canal Plus Group. Sogepaq owns 49% and Canal Plus Image 51% of the joint venture.Numbers is the second film Sogepaq has acqui
  • Spain's Saura unleashes Zebra Producciones

    Spanish producer and former head of the pan-European Media Business School Antonio Saura has launched production outfit Zebra Producciones with backing from two as-yet unnamed private investors.Saura and co-head Natacha Kucic will invest $6.7-7.3m (pts1,100-1,200m) on their first annual slate of three films - two Spanish language and one international co-production. They aim to raise their annual production capacity over the next few years.Antonio Hernandez, director of the crit
  • Stuart Little gets bigger in Australia

    Fuelled by school holidays and the Easter weekend, Columbia TriStar's Stuart Little has brought in a phenomenal $8.7m (A$14.9m) after 20 days.The film clocked up $3.5m from 323 screens in its second week (April 12-19) - a rise of 24% from its opening seven days - giving it the biggest weekly gross so far this year at the Australian box office. Only four films did bigger business in any one week last year, and all were aimed at a considerably older audience: Star Wars: The Pha
  • Talos The Mummy

    Dir: Russell Mulcahy. US. 1999. 119 mins.Prod cos: Muraglia/Sladek Productions, The Carousel Picture Co, Seventh Voyage, KNB EFX Group, Imperial Entertainment Group. US dist: Dimension Films. Int'l sales: Buena Vista Film Sales (+ 1 818 238 1081). Exec prods: Tom Reeve, Romain Schroeder. Prods: Daniel Sladek, Silvio Muraglia, Jeffrey White. Scr: John Esposito, Russell Mulcahy, from a story by Mulcahy and Keith Williams. DoP: Gabriel Beristain. Prod des: Bryce Walmsley. Ed: Armen Min
  • Tasca asks competition council to rule on UGC card

    In her first decision as France's culture minister, Catherine Tasca has asked the country's competition authorities to rule on the controversial issue of cinema chain UGC's "Illimite" card, which gives unlimited access to UGC screens for FFr98 a month.UGC's new promotional effort has been opposed by independent exhibitors, who consider it unfair competition, since they are not in a position to equal UGC's offer. They have appealed to Francis Lamy, the liaison for the cinema industry,
  • Twelve Nights

    Dir: Aubrey Lam. HK. 2000. 100 mins.Prod cos: Golden Harvest Film Productions, Golden Harvest Pictures China Ltd. Int sales: Golden Harvest (+852 2352 8222). Exec prod: Stephen Chu. Scr: Aubrey Lam. DoP: Deng Cheng Siu Keung. Cast: Cecilia Cheung, Eason Chan, Stephen Fung, Candy Lo, Cheung Sum Yuet. Twelve Nights is precisely the kind of film needed to show the world outside Asia that the lean years of the late 1990s have left the Hong Kong film industry fitter and
  • to finance short films

    Dir: Tony Barbieri. US. 2000. 109 mins.Prod cos: Lumiere International. Worldwide sales: Lumiere Films (+1 323 650 6773), UGC International (+33 1 40 29 89 00). Exec prods: Claude Leger, Luciano Lisi, Wendy Cary, Mickey Cottrell. Prod: Lila Cazes. Scr: Tony Barbieri. DoP: Matthew Irving. Prod des: Victor R Syperek. Ed: Jeffrey Stephens. Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams. Main cast: Robert Forster, Nastassja Kinski, Cody Morgan, Jason Cairns.Tony Barbieri's follow-up to his exce
  • Vigo prize split between Saint-Cyr, Ancienne

    For the first time since its creation in 1951, the Jean Vigo prize has been awarded ex-aequo to two features - Patricia Mazuy's Saint-Cyr, and Orso Miret's first feature effort De L'Histoire Ancienne. The two titles will premiere in two Cannes sidebars next month - Saint-Cyr in Un Certain Regard and De L'Histoire Ancienne in the Critics' Week.Created by friends of Jean Vigo, the director of cult French classics L'Atalante and Zero De Conduit
  • Warner Italy joins bid to boost summer box office

    Warner Bros Italy is pushing back the release date of South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut from May to June in an effort to establish year-round programming in Italy. Warner will also release John Travolta sci-fi film Battlefield Earth and martial arts action picture Romeo Must Die in June and July, respectively. Warner's decision comes on the heels of UIP's "Summer 2000" programme, which includes the European premiere of Mission: Impossible 2 in Ital