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28 February 2003

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  • 8 Mile opens big in Korea for Universal/UIP

    Universal's drama 8Mile grossed $2.9m from 1,469theatres in 25 markets over the weekend, raising its international runningtotal to $77.7m with 12 markets still to open. The picture had a strong Koreanbow with $524,000 from 75 screens, and took $18,000 from nine screens on itsopening day in Slovenia, marking Universal's fourth biggest bow of alltime behind The Lost World, Twister and Bridget Jones's Diary. Slovenia scored an excellent $71,000 for
  • Audiovisual Eureka to close by end of June

    The European Union's enlargement eastwards and changes in its membership have resulted in Audiovisual Eureka deciding to close down in June, leaving Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and states of the former Yugoslavia without a broad support programme.In a statement, the Brussels-based body explained the context for the decision: "the geopolitical developments that have recently taken place in the European audiovisual sector (including the shift towards participation of most candidate count
  • Canada pursues commerce over culture

    Ararat and Crash producer Robert Lantos is readying a series of big-budget films with international casts - in line with Canadian funding body Telefilm's aim to support films with box office potential.It has been almost a year since federal funding body Telefilm spelled out its aim of focusing on supporting commercially viable films, while setting a target for indigenous cinema to secure a 5% share of the national market within the next four years. To try and hit t
  • Cinema Park wins Foodfight! for Russia, buys three more

    Cinema Park, Russia's newestfilm company formed by Russian financial and metals conglomerate InterRosGroup, Nikita Mikhalkov's production company TRITE and Andrei Konchalovsky'sDVD distributor Movie Stream, closed its first major acquisitions at AFM led bySeven Arts Signature International's $60m animated feature Foodfight! being produced by Larry Kassanoff's ThresholdEntertainment.The vertically integratedCinema Park, which has ambitious plans to expand on i
  • Constantin, Impact option Driver game for movie

    Video game publisher Infogrames has optioned the featurefilm and television rights to its Drivergame franchise to German independent production and distribution companyConstantin Film. Constantin's subsidiary UK-based Impact Pictures -run by Jeremy Bolt and Paul Anderson - plans to take the project intoproduction this year with Paul W S Anderson (Resident Evil) lined up to direct.Driver isInfogrames' top title to date, with worldwide
  • ContentFilm acquires The King with Garcia Bernal

    Contentfilm has acquiredworldwide rights to The King, anew project by Monster's Ballscreenwriter Milo Addica which he co-wrote with James Marsh. Marsh will directthe film which will star Gael Garcia Bernal, the Mexican actor who will make ithis next film after Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education.The King will be produced by Addica with Edward Pressman,chairman of ContentFilm, Sofia Sondervan and James Wilson as executiveproducers. It tells th
  • Co-productions boost Czech release slate

    Nearly half of all Czech films scheduled for release during 2003 are co-productions with Slovakia, the Republic's erstwhile partner in the former Czechoslovakia.One of the few female Czech directors, Michaela Pavlátová (pictured), makes her debut with Lassitude In Two, a psychological drama based on a novel by Slovak author Tina Diosi. Produced by Negativ, Lassitude In Two received co-financing Slovak Television. Indeed, of 14 titles scheduled for a 2003
  • Daly's MFD secures P&A fund from Filmstar Releasing

    MiracleEntertainment chairman John Daly has signed a three-year revolving P&A fundwith Filmstar Releasing to support the newly-formed Miracle Film Distribution's(MFD) forthcoming domestic theatrical releases. MFD and Filmstar Releasing willshortly announce the first picture to come under the new arrangement.'I am very pleased tobe partnered with Jon Gentile and his Filmstar Releasing for Miracle FilmDistribution,' Daly said in a statement. 'I am sure this is thefirs
  • Digital cinema and piracy top ShoWest 2003 agenda

    The roll-out of digital cinema and the growing threat of piracy are to be among the chief talking points when industry delegates convene in Las Vegas for ShoWest 2003. With domestic admissions reaching record levels in 2002 and the relatively low 2.5% hike in ticket prices compared to other entertainment sectors, the annual convention comes at a time of resurgent optimism among exhibitors. "For movie admissions, which is the most important statistic for theatre operators, last year was
  • Distant Horizon options Echoes Of Love From Heaven Above

    Distant Horizon,Anant Singh's London, Los Angeles and South Africa-based entertainmentgroup whose production credits include Sarafina and Cry The Beloved Country, has optioned feature film rights toMickey Nivelli's acclaimed biography, Echoes Of Love From HeavensAbove. Based on the truelove story of Lotte Sommers, a young German Jew at the time of Hitler'srise to power, the book has attracted strong buzz.'The storyhas all the ingredients that will make it a memorab
  • Facing Windows (La Finestra Di Fronte)

    Dir: Ferzan Ozpetek. It/UK/Turkey/Port. 2003. 105mins.Ferzan Ozpetek is one of the few contemporary Italian directors who manages to straddle the arthouse-commercial divide. Born in Turkey, the director drew strongly on Anatolian themes in his first two films, The Turkish Bath (1997) and Harem Suare (1999), but with his last, 2001's successful and exportable The Ignorant Fairies, he returned to his home territory of contemporary Rome. The film also scored
  • Forced exit for Tobis distribution head

    Marlies Weber, head of distribution at Berlin-based Tobis Film, has been forced to vacate her position as of today.Speaking to, Weber (pictured) said that she was "not going of her own free will" and does not yet have anything else lined up.Meanwhile, Magnus Vortmeyer, Tobis Film's head of press and marketing, said that no successor has yet been found to take over Weber's position.Marlies Weber, who was also the only woman member on the board of the German
  • German politician urges Jackass boycott

    On the eve of its German opening, a Bavarian politician has called on cinema-owners to drop Jackass - The Movie from their programmes.In a statement, Markus Soeder, who is chairman of the of the conservative Christian Social Union party's Media Committee, said that "the series and film contain repulsive and absolutely inhumane scenes. Many of the portrayed scenes are highly risky, yet appear comparatively harmless through quick editing and the appropriate musical accompaniment."
  • Gods And Generals

    Dir. Ronald F. Maxwell. US. 2003. 216mins. If it were only two hours long, Gods And Generals would be a trial. But there then follows a further 100 minutes to prolong an experience as dull as it is earnest. Ronald Maxwell, who adapted and directed the well-regarded Gettysburg, is in the thrall of his production design and drugged by a luxuriant running-time. The first instalment of a Civil War trilogy, it hardly whets the appetite for parts two and three. Consid
  • Golden Harvest takes The Grudge

    Hong Kong studio Golden Harvest has become one of the first international distributors to sign on for Ghost House Pictures' remake of Japanese director Takashi Shimizu's The Grudge (Ju-On). The company has acquired Hong Kong and Malaysian rights to the film which will be the second production from Ghost House, the recently established genre label formed by Sam Raimi, Rob Tappert and Senator International. Taka Ichise, whose credits include Ringu, is set to produce. Ghost
  • Ground-Zero closes three AFM deals

    Ground-ZeroEntertainment, the North American distributor of martial arts videos andhip-hop-influenced titles, has closed three deals at this year's AmericanFilm Market, the company's founder and CEO Anthony Perez announced. Thecompany has signed a domestic distribution deal with James Bond III'surban production company Solid Rock for six titles. A limited theatricalrelease is planned for three: the urban murder mystery Awake in July; the children's picture Rahim& Rashid i
  • Halle Berry named honorary chair at Spirit Awards

    Halle Berry, who won lastyear's best actress Oscar for Monster's Ball, will serve as the honorary chair for the 2003 IFPIndependent Spirit Awards. 'Halle Berry has been incredibly generous toindependent film with her talent and with her support,' Dawn Hudson,executive director of IFP/Los Angeles, said in a statement.Berry also won a SAG Award,the Berlin Silver Bear Award and was named Best Actress by the National Boardof Review in 2002 for her role in Mons
  • Hollywood to make live-action feature of Japanese comic book

    Twilight Entertainment has signed a deal to make a live-action feature of Japanese animation Lupin The Third .with Japan's TMS Entertainment who created animation features and TV series of the story and Kazuhiko Kato the writer of the original comic book. Hollywood producer, Gerald Molen (Schindler's List, Jurassic Park: The Lost World) will head the project.Lupin The Third is an action comedy adventure about four legendary thieves who steal treasures from a
  • Hong Kong - the sequel means business

    With box office for local films down by nearly 25%, last year marked a low point for the Hong Kong film industry. So it's hardly surprising that filmmakers are now revisiting familiar material. At least three sequels are set to start shooting in Hong Kong over the next few months while several more are in the early stages of development. The most high-profile of these are the prequel and sequel to recent blockbuster crime thriller Infernal Affairs. After selling English-l
  • IMAX records first profitable year since 1999

    IMAX Corporationhas reported its first profitable year since 1999, with annual revenues (endingDec 31 2002) of $130.7m compared to $118.7m in 2001. Fourth quarter revenueswere $37.3m compared to $33.9m for the same period the year before.Thecompany's co-chairmen and co-CEOs Richard L Gelfond and Bradley JWechsler said they expected IMAX to increase profits in 2003, forecastingearnings of between $0.10 and $0.15 per share.Gelfond andWechsler announced 2002 ope
  • India's Tata steps in to film production

    Indian conglomerate the Tata Group has entered the Indian film production business, stepping in to rescue stalled production on Bollywood title Aitbaar.The company announced its plans to co-produce the big-budget movie, starring Bollywood super star Amitabh Bachchan and model-turned-Indian actress Bipasha Basu (pictured), after funding failed to materialise for producer Jatin Kumar (son of film-maker Sujit Kumar)Titled Aitbaar, the maiden Tata venture will be direc
  • Inheritance inherits Danish box-office crown

    Per Fly's highly anticipated new film, Inheritance (Arven), was very well received by both critics and audiences on its opening weekend in Denmark, which was the biggest for a local film this year. With 41,000 admissions and $319,430 (DKK 2.2m) from 60 prints local distributor Nordisk Film's high expectations were fulfilled for Fly's second film following his multiple award-winning The Bench, which ended up with some 200,000 admissions after a long run. Local criti
  • Israeli film industry mourns indie pioneer David Shapira

    The Israeli film industry is mourning the sudden death of David Shapira (68), one of the most prominent independent film distributors in the country. A popular figure in the local film business, he founded Shapira Films with his wife Dalia, in 1968. He was a pioneer in arthouse film exhibition, which he championed throughout his career, and though he specialised for many years in European cinema, his American repertoire was expanding in recent years. A member of the board and th
  • Italy's RAI loses president and last board member

    After days of political pressure, Antonio Baldassare, president of Italian state broadcaster RAI and final remaining board member Ettore Albertoni have agreed to step down from their positions - paving the way for new executive appointments to be made by Silvio Berlusconi's government.Current RAI management has only been in place for a year.Three of RAI's five board members - Carmine Donzelli, Luigi Zanda and Marco Staderini had already resigned in protest last November, leaving
  • Mercier to represent UK/Ireland for Cannes Directors' Fortnight

    Cannes Directors' Fortnight has appointed Chris Mercier, former manager of international distribution at Universal Pictures International, as its UK/Ireland representative, artistic director François da Silva announced on Wednesday.Mercier, who also had a stint at Castle Rock International in London, will work with the British Council to source feature-length and short films out of the UK and Ireland. Screenings will be held at the BFI Screening Room from March 12-14 in the presen
  • Miramax music president Spendlove renews contract

    Randy Spendlove,Miramax's president of motion picture music, has re-signed with thecompany and will continue heading up the music department, Miramax co-chairmenBob and Harvey Weinstein announced today (Feb 25). Spendlove will remain inMiramax's Los Angeles office and will report directly to the Weinsteins.Directors of music Joe Rangel and Rachel Levy will continue reporting toSpendlove.Spendlove'srelationships with artists on Miramax productions paved the way for t
  • Mixed bag for international box office markets last year

    2002 was the year the US majors clawed back market share at the international box office after the previous 12 months which had seen homegrown hits enjoy an unprecedented period of glory in their local markets.Record-breaking audiences were seduced by the second instalments in the Harry Potter (Chamber Of Secrets) and Lord Of The Rings (The Two Towers) series, the first in the arachnid franchise (Spider-Man) and the most globally successful James Bond film of all t
  • New films by Rohmer, Akerman and Fridriksson get Eurimages cash

    New feature films by Eric Rohmer, Chantal Akerman and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson are among nine projects awarded over Euros 3.3m by Eurimages.Two projects were backed in the funding category for larger projects with commercial promise: Euros 700,000 for Didier and Thierry Poiraud's French-German-UK co-production Le Retour De James Bataille and Euros 600,000 for Rohmer's Triple Agent which is being structured as a Franco-Greek-Spanish-Italian co-production. The remai
  • New financing and production company to launch in Italy

    A group of international private investors backed by a private UK bank has created a new financing and production company, named Company of Arts.The new Rome-based outfit, which will officially launch in May, already has two projects in the pipeline: Defenceless, a Euros 20m English-language feature film, set in the French town of Deauville in 1948, and Nick a musical based on the life of composer Nicola Paganini.Defenceless will focus on three Americans who
  • Ordesky moves to senior production post at New Line

    Mark Ordesky, the presidentof Fine Line Features and the production executive who oversaw New Line'sLord Of The Rings trilogy, hastaken a major step up in the New Line hierarchy being named executive vicepresident and chief operating officer of New Line Productions. He will reportdirectly to Toby Emmerich who is president and CEO of the division. Ordesky, who has been at NewLine for 14 years, will oversee the day-to-day operations of New Line'sproduction staff, while continuing
  • Palm signs on for Assayas Cannes pic demonlover

    Chris Blackwell's PalmPictures has acquired all US and Caribbean rights to Olivier Assayas'thriller demonlover, with plansfor a theatrical release in the autumn followed by a DVD release in 2004.The multi-layered storycentres on a corporate mole who discovers an online torture chamber. ConnieNielson (Gladiator, One Hour Photo),Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don't Cry),Gina Gershon (Bound) and CharlesBerling (Les Destinees) star,with a soundtrack by independent r
  • Party Monster

    Dir: Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato. US. 2003. 98mins.Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the documentary film-makers behind The Eyes Of Tammy Faye and prosperous production outfit World Of Wonder, made a film in 1998 called Party Monster, about the notorious club promoter Michael Alig who created the Club Kid scene in Manhattan before landing in jail for the murder and dismemberment of a drug-dealing associate. Bailey and Barbato painted a chilling portrait of a dr
  • Russian company seeks investors for major cinema chain

    A start-up Russian company is seeking investors for a multiplex cinema circuit that it claims will control 30% of a market that could be worth $1bn within eight years.According to local media reports, Alexander Timofeyev, co-founder of Investkinoproyekt, which owns one Russian cinema, said he and his partner Vladimir Murov are planning to build four to six multiplexes a year."It's clear that Russia lacks a national chain of movie theatres with a unified style and standards of ma
  • Senator International closes multiple deals on XX/XY

    Senator International hascompleted multiple sales on its romance drama XX/XY which played in dramatic competition at the SundanceFilm Festival last year. Optimum Releasing has bought UK rights, Lola Films hasbought Spain, Mediafilm SPA has bought Italian and Belga Films has boughtBenelux. IFC Films has domestic distribution on the film which will be releasedon April 11.The film stars Mark Ruffalowhose credits include You Can Count On Me and the upcomin
  • ShoWest focuses on China

    Two seminars on the growing film industry in China and theworldwide piracy problem are expected to be major draws at the upcoming ShoWest2003. China: A View From All Perspectives will take place on March 3 - the convention's InternationalDay - when Yang Buting, CEO and chairman of the China Film Group, will delivera keynote speech addressing China's rapidly expanding film market. Otherpanelists scheduled to appear include: Sjoerd DeClerk, managing director ofBarco Digital
  • Spain to host Cartoon Master workshop

    Galicia in Spain will play host to a three-day Cartoon Master workshop dedicated to technological developments in the animation industry May 15-17.It is one of three upcoming workshops organised by Cartoon, the European Association of Animated Film, including Cartoon Creativity (April 24-26) in Erfurt, Germany and Cartoon Finance (June 20-21) in Cardiff, Wales. Cartoon Technology, an International Forum for Animation Technologies, will be held November 13-15 in Angouleme, France.
  • Spanish cinema takes heart from new figures

    The Spanish box office looks to have enjoyed a better year last year than estimates predicted, as new figures from the state film institute ICAA reveal.Meanwhile, local films have started the year off with a bang thanks to the record-breaking performance of Javier Fesser's comic book-inspired action-adventure Mortadelo & Filemon - The Big Adventure (Mortadelo & Filemon - La Gran Aventura), now the third top-grossing Spanish film ever.ICAA puts 2002 overall ticket sales th
  • Taipei film festival unveils 5th edition line-up

    The Taipei Film Festival has unveiled the line-up for its fifth edition (March 9-22) which includes a special focus on cinema from Australia and Japan. Among the eight films that will screen in the Australian New Current section are four from Tony Ayres, including last year's critical hit Walking On Water, and two from David Caesar - Mullet and Dirty Deeds. The Australian New Wave Retrospective features 14 titles from the 1970s and 1980s including seminal films suc
  • UK's BFI appoints new head

    The British Film Institute (BFI) has appointed Amanda Nevill as director, the UK film and TV body announced on Friday.Nevill, who is currently head of the National Museum of Photography, Film and TV in Bradford, Yorkshire, will take up the post in June. The move has raised eyebrows as many had expected acting director Adrian Wootton to be given the post, which was vacated by Jon Teckman late last yearBut Anthony Minghella, who took over the chairmanship of the institute at the s
  • Warner Bros signs Indonesian free TV deal

    Warner BrosInternational Television Distribution (WBITD) has signed a multi-year deal withIndonesia's Pt Duta Visual Nusantara Tivi Tujuh for free televisionrights to a raft of pictures, television series, animated series, TV movies,miniseries and documentaries for broadcast on the company's channel TV7.The dealincludes broadcast rights to Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, TheLord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Ocean's Eleven, Cats &Dogs, Training
  • Yes Nurse, No Nurse! (Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster)

    Dir: Pieter Kramer. The Netherlands. 2002. 100mins.Busby Berkeley comes to Amsterdam in all-singing, all-dancing Dutch-language musical Yes Nurse, No Nurse!. Relentless innocence and Mary-Poppins optimism may bore the more cynical before the end, but it contains enough visual style and sheer kookiness to carry the majority through to the inevitable happy conclusion. Already in the Netherlands it has taken $2,957,990 (Euros 2,739,099) since opening there last October. T
  • Yes Nurse, No Nurse! (Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster)

  • Zeidman leaves Landmark for Lions Gate, Peckos leaves Lions Gate for Landmark

    Marty Zeidmanhas joined Lions Gate Films Releasing as senior vice president and generalsales manager, at the same time as Jay Peckos has left Lions Gate from his postas vice president of distribution to become film buyer at Landmark.Zeidman was headfilm buyer for the US arthouse theatre circuit, and in his new position, hewill be responsible for developing and implementing distribution patterns forthe company's lineup of pictures.'I haveknown Marty for going