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28 November 2000

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  • 102 Dalmations

    Dir: Kevin Lima. US. 2000.Prod co: Walt Disney Pictures. Worldwide dist: Buena Vista/BVI. Prod: Edward S Feldman. Scr: Kristen Buckley & Brian Regan, Bob Tzudiker & Noni White, from a story by Buckley & Regan and the novel The One Hundred And One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. DoP: Adrian Biddle. Prod des: Assheton Gorton. Ed: Gregory Perler. Mus: David Newman. Main cast: Glenn Close, Iaon Gruffudd, Alice Evans, Tim McInnerny, Gerard Depardieu, Ian Richardson, Timothy West, Jim Carter.
  • ALCAS launches fund for Paramount quartet

    German fund specialist ALCAS is offering the investing public a slice of four upcoming Paramount features including the next film in the Tom Clancy franchise, The Sum Of All Fears, and Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander.Investors are being invited to contribute at least $43,000 (DM100,000) to a $280m (DM650m) fund, which is also financing Radio Loco, to be directed by Mimi Leder, and Lee Tamahori's $42m thriller Along Came A Spider. Radio Loco is bas
  • Amsterdam doc fest to honour van der Keuken

    Dutch documentary film-maker Johan van der Keuken will be presented with the Bert Haanstra award in recognition of his life-time's work at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (November 21-29).The Dutch Film Fund, which will present the award, described van der Keuken as a "cinematic poet whose international acclaim is impressive". His latest film, produced this year, is the award-winning The Long Holiday, which documents his battle against prostate cancer.
  • Ardmore lands Spyglass' Reign Of Fire

    Dublin's Ardmore Studios is to host the biggest ever production to shoot in Ireland - Spyglass Entertainment's $80m sci-fi actioner Reign Of Fire - which is set to star Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale.Rob Bowman, whose credits include The X Files movie, is lined up to direct the film, about mankind's attempt to fight a brood of fire-breathing dragons. The Zanuck Company and Tripod Entertainment are producing with Spyglass and Buena Vista has domestic rights.
  • Australia's WIN Television set to go public

    One of Australia's largest privately-owned media companies, WIN Television, owned by former Paramount TV International president Bruce Gordon, is planning to float on the Australian Stock Exchange early next year.The regional network was sold to Gordon by Rupert Murdoch about 20 years ago and was a public company for about five years during the 1980s. Australian daily, The Sydney Morning Herald, reports that analysts are valuing the company at up to $314.8m (A$600m).
  • Babelsberg to launch multimedia centre

    Germany's Babelsberg Studios is planning to add a state-of-the-art multimedia production centre to house up to 30 companies, with construction scheduled to start as soon as spring 2001. Babelsberg co-managing director Gerhard Bergfried said the move was in response to demand from multimedia companies looking for a base in Berlin-Brandenburg, and could also position the region, traditionally known as a film and TV location, as a major centre for multimedia production. Currently Germany
  • BBC in talks to launch $280m film fund with MCP

    The BBC is discussing partnering with US and UK-based financing house MM Media Capital Partners (MCP) to create a film fund, worth $280m (£200m) plus.The proposed investment will kick in over three years and be used to bankroll the BBC's drive into bigger budget productions. MCP would oversee international sales through its newly launched sales arm.Although negotiations could still collapse, talks have been held between MCP chiefs Hal Sadoff and Rodney Payne and BBC entertainmen
  • Canada grants licence to Independent Film Channel

    An independent film channel, to be run as a joint venture between Halifax-based Salter Street Films, Toronto-based Triptych Media and New York's Independent Film Channel, has been granted one of the 21 digital television network licences by Canada's broadcast regulator. The Independent Film Channel Canada, which is obliged under its new licence from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to devote half its programming to Canadian content, will launch next Se
  • Canal Plus delays shareholder vote on merger

    France's Canal Plus has postponed a shareholder vote on its three-way merger with Vivendi and Seagram for three days from December 5 to 8, for "technical reasons". Vivendi and Seagram will still hold their shareholder meetings as planned on December 5.In the last few weeks there have been several last-ditch attempts to oppose or regulate the merger. Most recently, the French Competition Council said it would re-examine the contracts that Canal Plus uses to acquire local films, as it be
  • Columbia TriStar buys Temptation from Showcase

    Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has acquired rights in North America and multiple international territories to Showcase Entertainment's The Right Temptation, a thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland, Rebecca DeMornay and Dana Delaney.The film tells the story of a female private investigator hired by a jealous wife to uncover her husband's suspected infidelity.Showcase has recently acquired two new films - Gentleman Bandit starring an ex-bank robber Charlie Mat
  • Contagious catches Chocolat writer's next project

    Chocolat writer Joanne Harris is adapting her upcoming novel for the big screen through David Barron and Paul Weiland's UK production outfit Contagious Films.Contagious has bought the film rights to the book at first draft manuscript form ahead of its planned publication in 2003. Harris is writing the first draft of the screenplay, titled Coastliners, as part of the debut development slate at Contagious.Her 1999 novel Chocolat is being shot by Lasse Hallstro
  • Culture ministers greenlight Media Plus budget

    EU culture ministers have voted unanimously to accept a budget of Euros400m for the European Commission's audiovisual programme MEDIA Plus. The UK, Germany and the Netherlands had initially opposed the budget which is already Euros150m lower than the sum proposed by the European Parliament. MEDIA Plus' predecessor, MEDIA II, had a budget of Euros310m.The Euros400m will be split between training (Euros50m) and development, promotion and distribution (Euros350m). At least 20% of t
  • Dancer to open Estonia's Black Nights fest

    Lars von Trier's Palme d'Or-winning Dancer In The Dark will open the 4th Black Nights Film Festival, which takes place in the Estonian cities of Tallinn and Tartu from December 3 to 10.As the name indicates, the festival offers entertainment through Estonia's long and dark December nights, and this year will screen 125 features from 45 countries, as well as two animation programmes and the Baltic-Scandinavian sidebar, Baltorama. The festival doesn't have a jury, but two prizes,
  • Danish film in line for government boost

    The Danish film industry is set to receive an additional cash boost from the local government which plans to establish a $5.7m (DKr50m) film fund with the participation of private investors. The fund is part of a wider initiative to support Denmark's cultural sector which has recently surpassed both the IT and medical industries in growth. In 1998, the Danish cultural sector grossed $8.4bn (DKr75bn), employed 60,000 people and accounted for exports worth $1.8bn (DKr16bn). And according
  • De Heer's Tracker secures FFC investment

    The Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC) has approved investment in The Tracker, described as "an Australian western with attitude", according to writer-director Rolf de Heer, who is also producing the film alongside Julie Ryan. Principal photography on the film, which is set in the 1920s, begins on February 26 next year under de Heer's Vertigo Productions banner. It will shoot in and around Arkaroola at the top end of the Flinders Ranges north of Adelaide. The low-b
  • E-M-S taps Jovy to advise on expansion

    German video and DVD distributor E-M-S New Media, which emerged as a major all-rights buyer at this year's autumn markets, has appointed former Advanced Medien board member Hanns-Arndt Jovy as a consultant to advise on its expansion into licence trading and production.E-M-S, founded in 1997 by Werner Wirsing, chief of digital mastering studio Hecker Digital and a pioneer in the German DVD market, acquired all rights to several pictures at MIFED, including Interlight Pictures' Timepi
  • First Film Foundation launches Feedback initiative

    The UK's First Film Foundation and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation are launching a screenwriting programme, entitled First Feedback, which will provide development support for 12 writers.The writers will take part in five free workshops over an period of eight months, which will be led by script tutor Phil Parker of the London Institute. First Film Foundation will then showcase the writers and their projects to industry development executives. UK production outfits Dragon Pict
  • Geoff Ammer leaves Disney, joins Revolution

    Geoffrey Ammer has left his position as co-president of marketing for Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group to join Joe Roth's Revolution Studios. He is replaced at Buena Vista by Oren Aviv, formerly his co-president at Disney, who now assumes sole responsibility for creative materials, publicity, promotions, research, media and internet development and marketing at the studio.Ammer will collaborate on all aspects of marketing and distribution worldwide for Revolution Studios film release
  • George Washington takes top honours at Turin

    David Gordon Green's George Washington scooped the top prize at this year's Turin Film Festival (November 17-25), marking the first time a US film has won the award since the festival was launched 18 years ago. The 25-year-old US director used non-professional actors for his debut feature, which revolves around a group of young people living in a depressed farming town in the southern US. The Jury's special prize went to Iranian title Yek Rouz Bishar, directed by B
  • German culture minister Naumann quits post

    Michael Naumann, the German culture minister who oversaw the controversial departure of Berlin International Film Festival chief Moritz de Hadeln, has stepped down after just two years in the job.Julian Nida-Ruemelin, the City of Munich's Arts Officer, is to succeed him. Naumann, a former publishing executive in Germany and the US, is to become a co-publisher of the highbrow weekly newspaper Die Zeit. His departure comes after the film and TV forum that he announced at Be
  • Hallmark taps German fund for feature, TV slate

    German fund specialist ALCAS is launching a Euros216.6m operating fund to back three TV mini-series and two feature film projects from US-based producer Hallmark Entertainment.Shooting has already begun at the UK's Pinewood Studios on Hallmark's $90m feature Dinotopia, which will also be distributed in a three-part TV version. The project is based on the best-selling children's book by James Guerney and directed by Marco Brombilla. Simon Moore wrote the TV version and collaborat
  • IAC set to strike with Hammer Force

    The UK's IAC Film & Television has acquired TV and film rights to Hammer Force, a series of best-selling thriller novels about a covert team of crack United Nations agents.The UK and US-based sales and financing house is kicking off the books' exploitation by arranging the finance for a $25m, 22-part TV series. IAC has also bought game and merchandising rights to the books, which have been published in 36 countries.IAC's Guy Collins aims to use Hammer Force to repe

    For years, Splendid Medien had a reputation as a solid, if unexciting, video and licence trader. Andreas Klein is now reinventing the company as a multinational content owner. Patrick Frater takes stock.Formerly known as a specialist video and licensing concern with a distinct taste for action films such as Rumble In The Bronx and Karate Tiger 2, Germany's Splendid Medien in recent years has moved upscale through its 49% stake in Graham King's Initial Entert
  • India's Maya Entertainment plans IPO

    Indian computer graphics company Maya Entertainment, owned by producer-director Ketan Mehta, is planning an initial public offering (IPO) on the Mumbai stock exchange within the next few months. Indian investment companies, Intel Capital and Enam Securities, have picked up substantial stakes in the company ahead of the float. Proceeds from the IPO will be used to expand Maya's operations in India, which include providing computer graphics and animation to the film, television and adver
  • KC Medien unwraps alliances with Pathe, Lions Gate

    Film seasons from The Netherlands and Croatia have been scheduled in the US next month. Dutch Treats 2000: New Films From Holland presents ten recent films at the Quad Cinema in New York (Dec 1-7), while Wednesdays In Croatia (Nov 29-Dec 20) screens classic and new Croatian films kicking off with Oscar submission Marshal Tito's Spirit at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles.Dutch Treats, presented by Holland Film in collaboration with American Premieres, a New York-based promoti
  • Kinowelt USA buy Cap'n Ricky script by Mark Perez

    Kinowelt USA has acquired the rights to Cap'n Ricky, a new screenplay by hot comedy writer Mark Perez whose credits include The Country Bears which is in pre-production at Disney, The Party Professional which was bought by Universal for Casey Silver's Gone Fishin Productions and Untitled Dave Sheridan Project which was bought by Disney for Robert Simonds to produce.The story follows the zany adventures of Ricardo Brubaker aka Cap'n Ricky, who pilots the jun
  • Kirch discusses buying stake in Russia's TV6

    Germany's Kirch Group is in negotiations to acquire a stake in Russian broadcaster TV6, which is majority-owned by Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. According to the station's director general, Alexander Ponomarev, a stake of up 25% is up for grabs.Representatives from the German company recently spent several days in Moscow, visiting the station and evaluating its capabilities. Berezovsky currently owns 75% of TV6 but is said to be interested in selling a large portion to a fo
  • Kirch in talks to buy majority stake in EM.TV

    Germany's Kirch Group is in negotiations to acquire a majority stake in local family entertainment rights trader EM.TV & Merchandising, which earlier this year swallowed The Jim Henson Company and 50% of Formula One motor racing company SLEC.EM.TV's shares rebounded slightly on Tuesday to close at Euros21.50 on news of the talks. Earlier in the day they had plunged by more than 20% to a two-year low of Euros17.58, amid speculation that the company might issue a profit warning at the e
  • Koenig's Helkon shares to stay in the family

    Germany's Helkon Media has announced that shares in the company belonging to the late Werner Koenig will be inherited by his mother, who is the sole beneficiary. Koenig's mother, who requested not to be named, said in a statement that she does not plan to sell her son's estimated 16% share of the company. She also pledged to support Helkon CEO Martin Heldmann and to honour an existing agreement between Koenig and Heldmann, who founded the company together, which states that sales of He
  • Kuratorium budget to be slashed

    German public film funding body, the Kuratorium of Young German Cinema, is facing a 12% budget cut, which it claims could jeopardise its future existence. The Wiesbaden-based fund has played a key role in the last 35 years in launching of the careers of German film-makers such as Roland Emmerich, Wim Wenders, Rosa von Praunheim, Jan Schuette and Werner Herzog.The 16 German federal states' culture ministers intend to reduce the institution's 2001 budget by $86,000 (DM200,000) to
  • La Chambre Des Magiciennes (Of Women And Magic)

    Dir: Claude Miller. France. 1999. 80 minsProd Co: Le Sept ARTE-teleclip/Les Films de la Boissiere. Int'l sales: UGC International, tel: (33) 1 4029 8900. Prods: Annie Miller, Jacques Fansten. Scr: Claude Miller partially based on The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt. DoP: Philippe Weldt. Ed: Veronique Lange. Mus: Hubert Persat. Main cast: Anne Brochet, Mathilde Seigner, Annie Noel, Yves Jacques, Edouard Baer.A back to basics move by veteran French director Claude Miller, La
  • Las Razones De Mis Amigos

    Dir: Gerardo Herrero. Spain. 2000. 105 mins.Prod co: Tornasol Films. Spain distrib: Alta Films. Int'l sales: Kevin Williams Associates (34-91-338-5355). Prods: Gerardo Herrero, Javier Lopez Blanco. Assoc prod: Mariela Besuievsky. Scr: Angeles Gonzalez Sinde, based on the novel La Conquista Del Aire by Belen Gopegui. DoP: Alfredo Mayo. Prod des: Gabriel Carrascal. Ed: Carmen Frias. Music: Lucio Godoy. Main cast: Marta Belaustegui, Joel Joan, Sergi Calleja, Lola Duenas, Paz Gomez, Jos
  • Media[netCom] losses double due to start-up costs

    German video-on-demand (VoD) company media[netCom] has reported that its losses more than doubled in the six months to September 30, from Euros461,000 to Euros1.16m, due to the cost of building an infrastructure and licensing film packages.However turnover rose by more than 1,000% to Euros1.94m from Euros141,000 in the same period the previous year. The company's CFO Christoph Pfeiffer said the losses were lower than projected and the breakeven is forecast for the 2001/2002 fin
  • Morena to co-produce Portozas Vision's Pencil

    Madrid-based production house Morena Films has boarded The Carpenter's Pencil (El Lapiz Del Carpintero), a feature film in development at Galician outfit Portozas Vision.International co-producers are being sought for the film, which is backed by regional broadcaster Television Galicia. First-time feature director Anton Reixa is prepping Pencil for a May 2001 shoot in the northern Spanish province of Galicia. Reixa and Xose Morais are co-writing the script, based on a bes
  • Murdoch, Packer tipped to back investment bank

    Australia's two biggest media moguls, Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch, are to bankroll a new investment bank that also has backing from Swiss insurer Zurich Financial Services, according to Australia's Sydney Morning Herald.The Packer family company, Consolidated Press Holdings Investment Corporation, is to tip in $28m (A$55m) into the new venture and one of Murdoch's companies, Queensland Press, is expected to do the same. The bank will be run by former BT investment ban
  • Nordisk Film & TV launches feature production unit

    Norway's Nordisk Film & TV, owned by Copenhagen-based Nordisk Film, is establishing a feature film production division that aims to have an output of two titles a year that will travel across Scandinavian borders.The new outfit, to be headed by producer Rune Trondsen, will run parallel to Nordisk Film's other Norwegian production subsidiary, Northern Lights, which has credits including Berit Nesheim's Eva's Eye, Mendel, directed by Aleksander Rosler, and Trygve Allister D
  • Norwegian mockumentary to get blockbuster roll-out

    Norwegian distributor Egmont Columbia TriStar (ECT) plans to give low-budget local mockumentary Get Ready To Be Boyzvoiced a blockbuster opening by releasing it on 52 screens across Norway this weekend.In comparison, ECT released studio titles such as The Patriot and Hollow Man on 50 prints and its upcoming Charlie's Angels will be released on 54 prints.Get Ready, produced by Nordisk Film & TV, stars Norwegian comedian Espen Eckbo, who invented
  • One Life Stand sweeps board at Scottish BAFTAs

    Pioneering digital drama One Life Stand scooped five prizes at the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards in Glasgow on Sunday evening including best drama and best writer and director for its creator May Miles Thomas.The low-budget, independent feature also secured best film performance for actress Maureen Carr. Thomas also received the Scottish Screen Award For Outstanding Achievement which honours an individual talent and carries a £10,000 prize to be used as seed finance for a fut
  • Paredes in line for Spanish Cinema Academy post

    Veteran actress Marisa Paredes was the only candidate presented to take over the soon-to-be-vacated position of president of the Spanish Cinema Academy, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.The Academy's current president, actress Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, will vacate the post on December 17.Catalan producer-director Antonio Chavarrias and writer-director Joaquin Oristrell were the sole nominations presented for the positions of first and second vice president, respectively
  • Recoletos, Prensa Espanola win DTT licences

    Two major new players were unleashed on the Spanish media scene Friday with the government concession of two nationwide, free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) licences.The winners of the new licences were consortia Veo TV, spearheaded by publishing entities Recoletos and Unedisa (home of national newspaper El Mundo), and Net TV, led by publisher Prensa Espanola (ABC newspaper), TV and film producers Grupo Arbol/Globomedia, Telson/Cartel and Europroducciones, an
  • Schuendler to head co-production at Bavaria

    Oliver Schuendler has been appointed to replace Carina Vogel as head of co-production at Bavaria Media, the international production and rights arm of German mini-major Bavaria Film.Schuendler, a producer at Bavaria Film, is best known for his German-language mini-series and TV movies. At Bavaria Media he will be responsible for the company's international co-production activities, including its recent deal with Italy's RAI Cinema for TV projects and eventually theatrical features (
  • Spanish networks oppose new DTT licences

    On the eve of the Spanish government's announcement on the winners of two new nationwide, free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) licences, the country's private TV union has sent out a strong warning that the market will not be able to sustain the increase in competition.The Union of Associated Commercial Television Broadcasters (UTECA) - grouping Antena 3 Television (backed by Telefonica), Telecinco and Sogecable (owner of Spanish pay outlet Canal Plus) - released a statemen
  • Star strikes output deal with Andy Lau's Teamwork

    Star TV has signed a five-year output agreement with Hong Kong star Andy Lau and his Teamwork Motion Pictures production company.The deal gives Star exclusive pay-TV, pay-per-view and video-on-demand rights to Teamwork films starring Lau, for Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore. Star also has output deals with Hong Kong's China Star and Media Asia, and with this latest agreement, claims to hold more than 70% of pay-TV licences for feature film content produced in Ho
  • Star to invest over $400m in Indian DTH service

    Rupert Murdoch's Star TV has said it will invest more than $400m on setting up a direct-to-home (DTH) satellite platform in India, following the Indian government's decision to open its doors to such services earlier this month.However, Star has denied reports that it is talking to Indian state broadcaster Doordarshan about partnering on the proposed platform, although under Indian law it would be required to carry all of Doordarshan's channels. Indian legislation also caps foreign inv
  • Taxidermia stuffs the competition at Alcala

    The Alcala de Henares Film Festival, Spain's top short film festival, closed its 30th edition Saturday night in a rousing awards ceremony at the Teatro Cervantes, so named for the town's best-known native son.Luis Cervero's Taxidermia, a critical and post-modern take on the practice of stuffing animals, won the top prize as well as best editing and best sound nods. Pilar Garcia Elegido's short documentary on AIDS, Positivo, won the second prize, and Victor Fernandez's eni
  • TF1, Pathe discuss merging film divisions

    Leading French broadcaster TF1 and film group Pathe are in talks to merge part of their film activities, in a move that is seen as a response to rival Canal Plus' strength in the film rights arena, and its impending merger with Vivendi and Universal Studios. The companies said in a joint statement: "TF1 and Pathe are currently discussing a merging of some of their businesses in the areas of movie management, acquisition and distribution. Neither the terms, nor the time frame of the par
  • The Grinch leads record-breaking Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving records collapsed over the five-day holiday weekend led by the phenomenal holdover success of Universal Pictures' Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The family adventure took an estimated $73.8m from Wednesday to Sunday - about $52.4m over the Friday to Sunday period - bringing its ten day total to a quite astonishing $137.4m. That means that The Grinch is headed to $200m in super-fast time and is likely to end up as the biggest grossing film of 2000.
  • UK's Skillset launches new entrants scheme

    UK training body Skillset's one-year-old Skills Investment Fund (SIF) is backing a new scheme to support film industry trainees in the craft and technical fields.The initiative will support trainees throughout a two-year programme of training and work placements with freelance training organisation FT2. SIF has put aside $284,000 (£200,000) for the scheme over the next 12 months, and is using its commitment to attract additional European funding. In addition, Skillset is establi
  • Unapix files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

    Unapix Entertainment, the New York film and TV production and distribution outfit whose shares stopped trading on the American Stock Exchange last week, has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.According to a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Unapix expects that its primary lender, G.E. Capital Corp, will bail the company out with a revolving credit facility of up to $40m in order for Unapix to continue operating its core businesses. The credit line would be subjec
  • Unbreakable

    Dir: M Night Shyamalan. US. 2000. 107 mins. Prod co: Blinding Edge Pictures, Touchstone Pictures. US dist: Buena Vista. Int'l dist: BVI. Exec prods: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum. Prods: M Night Shyamalan, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer. Scr: Shyamalan. DoP: Eduardo Serra. Prod des: Larry Fulton. Ed: Dylan Tichenor. Mus: James Newton Howard. Main cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Robin Wright Penn, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard.A reteaming of writer-director M Night
  • Village blames weak results on exhibition arm

    Village Roadshow Ltd (VRL) chairman John Kirby has told shareholders that the company's unsatisfactory profits in the last two to three years are entirely due to the exhibition arm of the business, most recently because of a downturn in film quality. Speaking at the company's annual general meeting last week, Kirby also said the problem is being addressed with sell-offs and cuts to overheads, including a reduction of the worldwide cinema circuit from 18 to 8-10 territories.Accor
  • Winstar to tour 13-film Rohmer retrospective in US

    US specialised distributor Winstar Cinema will tour a retrospective of 11 features and two shorts directed by Eric Rohmer in brand new prints across the country starting next year. "Tales Of Rohmer" will also form the centrepiece of a more extensive retrospective being planned at New York City's Film Forum from Feb 9 to Mar 15, 2001.The package will travel to over 30 North American cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC and San Francisco.Among the films i