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29 June 2001

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  • $5m Night Witches readied for Russian shoot

    Night Witches, a new $5m Russian-UK co-production, is set to begin shooting in Russia in autumn, it was announced at the Moscow International Film Festival. Actor Alexander Siddig, best known as Dr Bashir from TV's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, will make his feature directorial debut with the film which is based on a true story about Russian female fighter pilots in WWII. The women took on the Luftwaffe in the skies over Leningrad and were feared for their daring night raid
  • Advanced takes step back as cash flow woes bite

    Germany's Advanced Medien has failed to meet investment plans for Wolfgang Petersen's Red Cliff Productions and has been forced to end a $15.1m package deal with StudioCanal. The ailing rights trader has revealed that it had provided Petersen's US-based production outfit a certified letter of credit worth $3m instead of the originally planned $5m due to Advanced's cash flow problems. Advanced owns a 51% stake in Red Cliff. A multi-title deal with StudioCanal was terminated in February
  • Alibrandi producer takes ABC role

    Robyn Kershaw, the producer of last year's award-winning film Looking For Alibrandi, will take up the role of head of drama at Australian national broadcaster ABC from July 2. Changes to ABC staffing, programming and operations have been the source of some controversy over the past year, with managing director Jonathan Sheir drawing the majority of the flak. But Sandra Levy's recent promotion to director of television and this latest appointment are helping to allay some fears o
  • Amy Koster promoted at Paramount

    Amy Koster has been promoted to executive director of creative advertising for the motion picture group of Paramount Pictures, continuing to report to Lucia Ludovico, executive vice president of creative advertising and print. In her new position, Koster will work on the development and implementation of creative print advertising and campaigns for the motion picture group.Currently working on the creative print advertising for Paramount's upcoming movies The Score, Ha
  • AOL Time Warner, Toshiba unite for digital push

    AOL Time Warner and Japanese electronics giant Toshiba are to team up to develop and push digital cinema distribution. Business daily Asahi Shimbun quoted Richard Parsons, co-chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner, as saying that they plan to distribute Warner Bros pictures worldwide via satellite using Toshiba technology. Parsons said that the plan should come to fruition within three to five years and that it could cut distribution costs by 60%-70%.Toshiba currently has a
  • Artisan in talks to buy Lions Gate Entertainment

    After a stormy year in which senior executives have left its ranks, a much-ballyhooed public offering failed to take off and it put itself up for sale, Artisan Entertainment has shifted strategy, taken itself off the block and begun negotiations to buy publicly traded Vancouver-based entertainment indie Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. The negotiations, still at their early stages, would see Artisan pay between $100m and $150m for Lions Gate which encompasses film and TV production and d
  • Baby Boy

    Dir: John Singleton. US. 2001. 130 mins.The innersoul of a young, immature black man is placed under scrutiny in JohnSingleton's Baby Boy, a companion piece but not a sequel, to his breakthrough film,Boyz N' The Hood,which exactly ten years ago made a splash in the film world. Revisiting thesame tough neighborhood of that 1991 film, and offering a similarly unflinchinglook at the devastating impact of violence on black families, Baby Boy
  • Balian and Wiederspiel quit Tobis StudioCanal

    On the eve of this year's Filmfest Muenchen, the German distribution sector has been rocked by the news of the sudden departure of Haig Balian and Albert Wiederspiel from Canal Plus' German theatrical arm Tobis StudioCanal (TSC) "due to insurmountable differences".For the time being, TSC will be managed solely by company president Kilian Rebentrost, who held a 44% share in Tobis before Canal Plus Images increased its stake in the company from 20% to 60%. As from February 2000, the shar
  • Big Bad Love

    Directed by Arliss Howard. US. 2001. 121 min.Severely flawed in both dramatic and cinematic ways, Big Bad Love, the feature directorial debut from actor Arliss Howard, is an ambitious film about a Vietnam vet (played by Howard), who's trying to create fiction from his troubled past and regain control over his turbulent life. This indie, which was poorly received at this year's Cannes Festival's Directors' Fortnight, gains from the participation of the gifted Debra Winger (Howard's wife
  • Bollywood blockbusters slug it out in India

    Two controversial Bollywood period films have been breaking Indian box-office records, despite playing at the same time.Land Tax (Lagaan) and Mutiny - A Love Story (Gadar-Ek Prem Katha) have been playing to full houses since both films opened 10 days ago. Box office for Lagaan is expected to increase as it moves into its third week.Both titles are exceptions to the usual soft-centred romances which tend to dominate Bollywood fare. Lagaan
  • Bride Of The Wind

    Directed by Bruce Beresford. US 2001. 99 mins.It is said that behind every successful man stands a woman. But rarely in history has one woman, Alma Mahler, stood behind so many brilliant and accomplished men. With Bride Of The Wind, Australian director Bruce Beresford (Double Jeopardy, Driving Miss Daisy) attempts to, if not unravel Alma's legendary appeal, then at least showcase her alluring mystique. But, due to a flat script and
  • Buyers emerge for French studios group SFP

    Two potential buyers - Daniel Lebard Management Development and facilities house Euromedia Television with Bollore Investissement - have emerged for ailing French state-owned studios and facilities group Societe Francaise de Production (SFP). Unless one takes over the massive organisation, the only other alternative appears to be a management buyout led by five members of SFP's top brass. The three possibilities are still being reviewed by the French ministry of culture, along with Par
  • Chow Yun-fat in Waiting for Chan's Applause

    Chow Yun-fat, the Hong Kong superstar who headed the cast of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is set to star in Waiting, a romantic drama set against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution. The film is to be directed by Peter Chan for his novice production company, Applause Pictures.Waiting is based on the international best-selling novel of the same name by Ha Jin. Chow will play Lin Kong, an army doctor who struggles with an arranged marriage, but who is forced t
  • Christine Vachon gets Outfest 2001 Award

    New York-based independent producer Christine Vachon will receive the 2001 Outfest Achievement Award at this year's Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, next month.Vachon, a pioneer in gay cinema and a partner in Killer Films, has credits including this year's opening night film at Outfest Hedwig And The Angry Inch as well as Poison, Swoon, Go Fish, Stonewall, Velvet Goldmine, Boys Don't Cry and I Shot Andy Warhol
  • Cinema Expo closes on bullish note

    "It doesn't get a whole lot better than this."That was the message to delegates attending Cinema Expo in Amsterdam from distributors unveiling what has been a well-received array of product - much to the relief of embattled European exhibitors."There is a higher than normal degree of anticipation," said Richard Segal, CEO of UK circuit Odeon Cinemas. "The product reels leave me feeling very encouraged, and the number of big films coming down the pipeline are, on paper, reaching
  • Cinema Expo leaves sour taste for concessions

    Internet and telephone booking may have been heralded as a glorious new dawn for ticket sales, but delegates at Cinema Expo conference in Amsterdam were this week warned about its impact on concessions.Barry Jones, business development manager for Coca-Cola Greater Europe, pointed out that 40% of Swedish tickets are sold prior to the box office on the internet or the telephone. "The good news is that there's a very efficient ticketing process," Jones said. "The bad news is that 40% of
  • Cologne's TV and film fest announces prizewinners

    Screenwriter Ruth Toma, Berlin-based production company moneypenny Filmproduktion and casting director Rita Serra-Roll were among the German film industry figures honoured at the end of the Cologne Conference's eleventh International Television and Film Festival during the Media Forum NRW.The casting award went to Munich-based Rita Serra-Roll, whose most recent credits include Roland Suso Richter's TV movie The Tunnel and Peter Keglevic's Tanz Mit Dem Teufel. Serra-Roll h
  • Columbia buys new territories on Senator thriller

    Joe Drake's Senator International has concluded a second multiple-territory deal with Columbia Pictures on Luis Mandoki's action thriller 24 Hours starring Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon, Courtney Love and Stuart Townsend.Columbia had already struck a deal for North America, Spain, Latin America, Benelux, Asia (excluding Japan), Greece, Portugal, Middle East and Turkey, and has now taken rights for the UK, France, Italy and Scandinavia.Senator International has also sold th
  • crazy/beautiful

    Dir: John Stockwell. US. 2001. 88mins. Despite its perky-sounding title, prominent soundtrack and sexy costumes, crazy/beautiful appears to have ambitions that are considerably bigger than those of the average teen romance. With an interracial love story at its core, the film also delves into relatively dark family drama and tries to explore the kind of racial and gender stereotypes that it might have taken for granted. The serious-minded approach feels forced at times
  • Crush

    Dir: John McKay. UK. 2001. 111minsA calculating mixture of hilarity and heartache, Crush is one of the more polished British candidates poised to ride the hem lines of Bridget Jones's success and exploit the expanding market for upscale chick flicks. A first feature from writer-director John McKay, it tries too hard to please all of the people all of the time and may encounter some resistance to a central trio of selfish and often quite unsympathetic female characters. Likely to appeal
  • De la Iglesia goes solo to set up Stray Bullets

    Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia has launched his own production company, Panico Films, through which he plans to set up new feature film project Balas Perdidas (literally, Stray Bullets), according to statements he made in Argentina this week.In an interview with La Nacion newspaper, de la Iglesia said that Bullets will be his next film and that he hopes to produce it himself. The plans would signify further delays on his much anticipated Fu Manchu
  • Desert Moon

    Dir:Shinji Aoyama. Japan.2001.131mins After winning the International Critics Award at Cannes last year for his remarkable Eureka, a lot was expected of Shinji Aoyama, a young director who clearly has it in him to make waves outside his home country. Perhaps too much, since Desert Moon strives too hard to be significant and, instead of telling a good story straight, is constantly nudging us in case we fail to understand its relevance. Consequently, a film which might have been as impre
  • Divided We Fall wins UIP prize at Sydney festival

    Czech Director Jan Hrebejk's Divided We Fall was voted the inaugural winner of the UIP-sponsored Prix UIP for best European film at the Sydney Film Festival.The prize, awarded in the contemporary world cinema section, carries a cash prize of $12,930 (Euros15,000) for producers Ondrej Trojan and Pavel Borovan.Audiences also voted the picture the most popular feature among those shown at the State Theatre, one of the two festival venues. Prague-based Hrebejk, who was one of
  • Dr Dolittle 2

    Dir: Steve Carr. US. 2001. 85 mins. It's been three years since Eddie Murphy and co successfully reinvented Dr Dolittle - the man who talks to the animals - for a modern film audience by using computer effects to allow the animals to talk, cheekily, back. Dr Dolittle 2 efficiently follows the same formula as 1998's $290m-grossing original but makes depressingly little effort to add anything new to the equation. There's probably enough to keep younger kids on school holidays happy, but
  • E Sun group grabs power at Media Asia

    Ending a period of intense speculation and rumour-mongering about the direction of Media Asia, one of Hong Kong's most ambitious production and distribution operations, it has emerged that investment group E Sun has become the largest shareholder. E Sun's move allows a series of reallocations of management and operational responsibilities. These are expected to see E Sun increase its board presence and allow acting superstar and Media Asia shareholder Jackie Chan to become a board memb
  • English-language Seagull finds Spanish director

    Spanish director Enrique Gabriel (Fading Memories) has signed on to direct ambitious English-language project The Seagull.The project, billed as a "Mediterranean adaptation" of the classic Chekhov play, is in development at Barcelona-based start-up TSP. World rights excluding Spain have pre-sold to LA-based Independent Artists (IA) as part of a five-year mutual first-look deal that TSP and IA signed last year at Cannes.Budgeted at up to $12m, Seagull is sche
  • Final

    Dir: Campbell Scott. US. 2001. 111mins.Campbell Scott, who co-directed the hit Big Night in 1996 with Stanley Tucci, finally gets back behind the camera with Final, the fourth digital video production from IFC-backed IndiGent after Bruce Wagner's Women In Film, Richard Linklater's Tape and Ethan Hawke's Chelsea Walls. Unlike Chelsea Walls and Tape, it won't get a theatrical release domestically through rights-holder Lions Gate Films, which is understandable given its theatricality and
  • Finn steps down as WT2 reshuffles exec deck

    Jon Finn is stepping down as co-head of WT2, the low-budget division of production powerhouse Working Title Films which debuted with Billy Elliot.Natascha Wharton will continue at the division as head of WT2. Working alongside her will be Rachel Prior, promoted from story editor to development executive. Finn, who came from a production background while Wharton hails from development, will continue to work as a producer for both WT2 and Working Title. WT2's follow-ups to
  • Franchise re-sells overseas rights to five titles

    Franchise Pictures says it regained various international distribution rights to five features -- Angel Eyes, Get Carter, The Pledge, 3000 Miles To Graceland and Viva Las Nowhere -- after Germany's Intertainment Licensing failed to make the required payments on those films.In a statement released onSunday, Franchise claimed it had been authorized by the films' productionlenders to re-sell the rights on these films in the territories once licensedby I
  • French theatrical subsidies law extended

    The French government has amended the law which limits financial support to smaller theatres in order to allow larger exhibitors to benefit from the same subsidies.Current legislation limits local subsidies to theatres which sell less than 2,200 tickets on average per week. The new regulation now puts the cap at 10,000 tickets. All arthouse operators will benefit from the support, regardless of the number of tickets sold.'The scheme must be adapted to the evolution of the French
  • French TV cuts back on number of films aired

    French terrestrial TV channels have cut back the number of feature films broadcast per year, airing 49 fewer titles last year than in 1999. This includes 31 fewer films broadcast in primetime, for a total of less than 800 films.According to the latest survey by French audiovisual industry watchdog CSA (Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel), this is mostly due to public broadcaster France 2 and private broadcaster M6. The two have been increasingly reducing their film slots. In 200
  • German distributors get inaugural culture awards

    Distributor Arsenal Filmverleih, Berlin's fsk Kino & Peripher Filmverleih and Rapid Eye Movies in Cologne have each been selected for the Germany government's 2001 Distributor Awards.The German ministry of culture will present the awards in Dresden in October. The prizes, each of which carries $94,000 (DM200,000), were launched by culture minister Julian Nida-Ruemelin during this year's Berlin International Film Festival. Nida-Ruemelin aims to support "culturally outstanding ach
  • German film prize goes to The State I Am In

    Christian Petzold's The State I Am In received the top honour of a golden Lola - as the prize is now known - at the 52nd German Film Awards ceremony in Berlin. The award carries a premium of up to $440,000 (DM1m) to be invested in a future project.Oliver Hirschbiegel's hard-hitting Das Experiment walked away with five Lolas - in the categories of best actor, best supporting actor, best production design, and the audience awards for best film and best actor.The even
  • German producers body adds Filmpool to books

    Cologne-based production outfit Filmpool has been accepted as the 21st member of recently-launched German producers pressure group Film 20. Current members include Kinowelt Medien, Senator Entertainment, Producers AG, Claussen + Woebke Filmproduktion and Constantin Film.Filmpool has an annual output of more than 200 hours of television programming and won the Prix Italia last year for the TV movie Schande. The company has just finished shooting a picture directed by Andreas Klei
  • German toon house RTV snags Australia's Energee

    German animation production-distribution entity RTV Family Entertainment has taken over full strategic and operational management at the Australian animation studio Energee Entertainment.The Travers family, founders of the studio, have resigned from all operations and board seats but will continue to hold a minority interest of 32% for the time being.Commenting on the move, RTV stated that it would enable it "to fully exploit the synergies anticipated at time of acquisition [Feb
  • Germany's Senator questioned over TV dealings

    Senator Entertainment chief executive Hanno Huth defended his company's sale of film rights to two unnamed intermediary rights dealers rather than directly to TV stations at this week's annual shareholders meeting in Berlin.Responding to queries from shareholders about reports in German weekly magazine Der Spiegel and daily national newspaper Die Welt, Huth declared that Senator "has not concealed anything". He added that it had been agreed to keep the names of the two in
  • Germany's Splendid to buy back 10% of stock

    Shareholders of Splendid Medien, the German rights trader-producer behind Traffic and The Gangs Of New York, have given the company's board of management the green light for a stock repurchase programme of 890,000 shares.The repurchase, amounting to 10% of Splendid's capital stock, is seen as part of Splendid's strategy of speeding up corporate expansion.Commenting on the decision in an official statement, Splendid declared that "the purpose [of the repurchase prog
  • Helkon right on track for meeting 2001 targets

    While other Neuer Markt-listed German media companies have been issuing profit warnings in the past few weeks, Helkon Media is still on course to post the $138m (DM318m) sales and $19.5m (DM45m) EBIT which were forecast for the financial year 2000/2001 last September. Announcing results for the nine months from August 1, 2000-April 30, 2001, Helkon reported that sales were up 113% to $83.1m (DM192m) and the EBIT up 58% to $7.3m (DM17m). For the same period the previous year, the compan
  • Hollywood legend Jack Lemmon dies

    American film icon Jack Lemmon has died in Los Angeles aged 76, his publicist has announced. Lemmon, a two-time Academy Award winner, died at USC Norris Cancer Hospital on Wednesday night (June 27, 2001).Since his silver screen debut in 1954 comedy It Should Happen To You, opposite Judy Holliday and Peter Lawford, Lemmon built a reputation as one of America's best loved and most respected actors. His versatility was renowned, appearing in classic dramas including Save The Tig
  • Hong Kong's first completion bond specialist opens

    Hong Kong's first consultancy to specialise in completion bonds made its bow at the Hong Kong Filmart, signalling a growing trend in the territory towards international co-productions and joint financing.Film financing and Completion Bond Consultants (FFCBC), the entertainment arm of Hong Kong's Grande Insurance, will serve as a "one stop shop" to meet the specialised insurance needs of Hong Kong's film industry.However, completion bonds - which require completed scripts and det
  • Hush

    Dir: Ryosuke Hashiguchi. Japan. 2001. 135 mins. Hashiguchi's directorial debut, Like Grains of Sand, won prizes at Rotterdam, Dunkirk and the Turin Gay And Lesbian Festival. But it is less easy to see Hush!, his second feature, achieving the same welcome and having the same impact even on the arthouse circuit. This story of three lonely people-a gay couple and a young woman determined to bear a child by one of the two men-would be more sympathetic if the cast were more proficient, the
  • Intertainment to focus on hands-on production

    Troubled German rights trader Intertainment aims to be more of a "hands on" producer in the future, through such production alliances as the one forged last year with veteran US producer Arnold Kopelson.Speaking at the shareholders general meeting yesterday, Intertainment CEO Barry Baeres explained that, due to the prevailing market conditions in Germany, the company will now shy away from making acquisitions of third-party titles to license. However, a source at Intertainment stressed
  • Italian financial regulators to search Mediaset HQ

    Italy's Financial Guard has been issued a warrant to search the Milan headquarters of Mediaset, Italy's largest private broadcaster, as part of an investigation into possible wrong-doing during Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's first stint as prime minister in 1994.The investigation, which the European Union Commission is also conducting, is focusing on TV rights acquisitions and tax breaks which Berlusconi's media conglomerate, Fininvest, would have benefited from during his first s
  • Japanese networks team to launch VOD service

    Three of Japan's five television networks - Fuji TV, TBS and TV Asahi - have agreed to form a groundbreaking joint venture to provide film and other content via broadband. In addition to feature films for a VOD service, content will include TV dramas, animation, sports and news. Programmes will beam to home PCs on a subscription basis.The venture, the first of its kind in the Japanese broadcasting business, is expected to have a management company in place in spring 2001, armed
  • Japan's Gaga goes live on Tokyo NASDAQ

    Leading Japanese independent distributor Gaga Communications officially listed on the NASDAQ Japan market on Friday, June 29. Opening at $8.25 (Y1,030), the share price rose to a high of $8.53 (Y1,064) and fell to a low of $7.89 (Y985) before closing at $7.95 (Y992). A total of 62,950 shares were traded. Launched in 1986 as a seller of foreign videos, principally grade Z genre titles, Gaga has since risen to the front ranks of the nation's film distributors under the leadership of foun
  • Jovovich to star in Chukrai's Red America

    Milla Jovovich is to star opposite Russian star Vladimir Mashkov in Red America, a Russian-American co-production from Academy Award-nominated director Pavel Chukhrai.The $6m-$7m production will be produced by Peter Hoffman's Seven Arts with Front Line Entertainment. Shooting is to start in Russia and the US in autumn. The film marks Chukhrai's first since The Thief, which was nominated for a foreign language Oscar. The script, written by his wife Maria Zvereva, fo
  • Kuhn realises Euro studio dream with Fox, Citibank

    Former PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (PFE) chief Michael Kuhn is back at the helm of a European-based film powerhouse after unveiling backing from US studio 20th Century Fox and financing house Citibank in London.Kuhn's London-based production and financing outfit Kuhn & Co has struck a multi-picture distribution deal with Fox, which will distribute up to ten films from Kuhn over a four year-period in North America, the UK, Italy, Germany and Latin America.Financing is being arr
  • La Chambre Des Officiers

    Dir: Francois Dupeyron. France. 2001. 135minsComfortingly old-fashioned in its virtues of sensitive direction and finely nuanced performances, La Chambre Des Officiers is a moving account of an injured officer's struggle for physical and spiritual regeneration at the height of the First World War. Conventional handling of the material may not attract universal critical support, but its sincerity and uplifting tone should readily endear it to audiences and provide writer-director Franco
  • La Spagnola

    World premiered at the 2001 Sydney Film Festival, this finely textured local feature proudly proclaims its multiculturalism. Subtitles translate the mainly Spanish and Italian dialogue: the film's title - The Spanish Woman in Italian - is itself testimony to the film's mix of cultures and language. This is admirably, even aggressively correct but, while certainly strengthening sales appeal in continental Europe and Latin America, won't boost its chances for wide distribution in Australia and
  • Lara Croft continues UIP's hot streak

    After a lacklustre domestic performance, just $32.3m in its first three weeks, sci-fi comedy Evolution has surprised many at the start of its international roll-out by scoring a $2.7m (£1.9m) opening weekend in the UK. Directed by Ivan Reitman, most famous for 1984 smash hit Ghostbusters, and starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Julianne Moore, the film recorded an impressive site average of $6,166 off 437 sites and took the top position away from Pearl Harbor. This
  • Late Marriage

    Directed by Dover Kosashvili. Israel-France 2001. 103 minsTelling an extremely powerful story of family tyranny and intergenerational conflict within Israel's Georgian-Jewish community, Late Marriage represents the impressive feature debut of Dover Kosashvili, who, at this phase, acquits himself more honorably as an astute writer than competent director. A highlight of Israeli cinema of recent years, this intriguing, well-acted serio comedy, which received its world premiere in Cannes'
  • Locarno shines spotlight on Asians in US cinema

    The 54th editionof the Locarno International Film Festival (Aug 2-12) has unveiled a richsidebar on Asians in American Cinema, including films such as Emiko Omori's RabbitIn The Moon, StevenOkazaki's Days Of Waiting, Wayne Wang's Life Is Cheap But Toilet Paper Is Expensive and Frank Sinatra's soledirectorial effort, None But The Brave, a WW2 war film from 1965 that featured Japanese soldiersspeaking in their native tongue.Dubbed "Out of the
  • Lovely Rita

    Dir: Jessica Hausner. Austria. 2001. 79 mins.After her noted short Flora (1996) and medium-length film Inter-View (1999), Hausner makes a highly impressive feature debut with this tragi-comic portrait of a withdrawn teenager. Shot on DV with amateur actors, the project's small-scale and offbeat nature will limit its appeal beyond the arthouse circuit, though the film has been sold to a number of territories and will be a welcome guest on the festival circuit. Above all, it signals H
  • MEDIA programme gets new admin body for funding

    D&S Media Services is to handle applications for MEDIA programme development and training support after winning the contract to run the Technical Assistance Office (TAO) from Brussels.D&S co-founder John Dick will oversee main operations from Brussels. The TAO will continue to have an office for television distribution support located in Munich and one for training programmes under Fernando Labrada's supervision in Madrid.D&S had been responsible for processing the applications
  • Meyer quits Studio Hamburg's Letterbox

    German producer Henrik Meyer is to step down as one of the managing directors of Studio Hamburg's production arm Letterbox Filmproduktion from July 1. Meyer will have an exclusive deal with the outfit as a freelance producer for feature films and TV movies, focusing on developing screenplays with US writers for the German market.Meyer's first projects will include two features - Just Married and Rosenstrasse - as part of Letterbox's three-picture co-production deal with H
  • MGM warns lower revenues for year 2001

    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) has warned that its second quarter results for the year as well as its full fiscal year 2001 results will be lower than anticipated "as a result of two theatrical releases which did not meet the company's expectations."Revenues for the second quarter ending June 30, 2001, are expected to be between $265m and $270m, compared to $290m in the same quarter last year, while earnings before tax (EBITDA) are expected to be a loss of between $30m and $35m compared to
  • Pay-TV channel launches for Germans living abroad

    ChannelD, a German-language pay-TV service for ex-pat Germans and holidaymakers in Latin America, the Caribbean and the US East Coast, has been established by six multimedia companies.The partners expect ChannelD will go on air from September 1, 2001 with a mix of bought-in programmes from public and private channels, including features, TV series, news, sports and chat shows. The station has a license from the Bremen Media AuthorityChannelD's programme acquisitions will be coor
  • Psycho, Vampire turn around Lions Gate fortunes

    Lions Gate Entertainment achieved net income of $5.7m (C$8.7m) in its fiscal year ended March 31, 2001, compared to a net loss of $3.5m (C$5.3m) the previous year. The company credited the turnaround on a strong fourth quarter driven by theatrical releases such as American Psycho and Shadow Of The Vampire and the home video releases of American Psycho and The Million Dollar Hotel. The company also benefited from Trimark's post-acquisition revenue from video
  • Queenie In Love

    Dir: Amos Kollek. US-France. 2001. 98mins.The closing event at Cannes' Directors' Fortnight, Amos Kollek's new romantic comedy, is a sequel of sorts to his 2000 competition entry, Fast Food, Fast Women. The novelty of his approach may have worn off a bit and the structure may seem at times even looser than it was last time, but for those amused by his wry observations on New York's Lower East Side loners searching for love and understanding, regardless of age, social background or occu
  • Rival Palm Springs Festival set for October

    Craig Prater, former executive director of the Nortel Networks Palm Springs International Film Festival, has launched a rival - and competitive - festival in the Palm Springs region called Festival Of Festivals.Set to take place this year between Oct 25 and Nov 4, the new event will screen films in venues across the Palm Springs valley, California, including Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Palm Springs.Features and shorts are eligible for entry and prizes (deadl
  • Russia and Catalonia sign cultural pact

    Russia and Spain's regional Catalan government have signed a two-year agreement to promote cultural interchange during the 23rd annual Moscow International Film Festival.The first concrete plan to emerge is the organisation of a week of Catalan cinema and literature to be held in Moscow every April. A parallel week of Russian cinema is to be hosted annually in October by Barcelona's state-run Filmoteca.The Catalan week's April date was chosen to coincide with the inauguration ne
  • Russia rejects limits to foreign media ownership

    The Russian parliament has rejected a new draft law that would have limited foreign ownership of Russian media. The move means Russian media legislation will continue to be amongst the most liberal in the world in terms of foreign ownership, with overseas entities holding controlling stakes in more than 300 newspapers, radio stations and regional television channels.Earlier this year the Russian parliament passed a draft law, which would have limited foreign ownership in all med
  • Russian Doll

    Dir: Stavros Kazantzidis. Australia. 2001. 90 mins.This ambling, soft-edged romantic comedy is due to receive a New York premiere on June 15, only days after its local debut, which saw it take $8,929 off 10 screens in five days - which says much for Beyond Films' enthusiastic sales muscle and for a perceived US interest in quirky Australian film humour (The Dish, Muriel's Wedding etc). But a micro budget and a joke-free script make Russian Doll an unlikely candidate to continue the Aus
  • Seven Arts to merge with Hollywood

    Peter Hoffman's Seven Arts Pictures is to merge with US Internet outfit Hollywood, it was announced on Wednesday.Hoffman is to join Hollywood Partners with a five-year exclusive commitment to serve as chief executive of the joint companies. Hollywood Partners is to acquire Seven Arts' overhead agreement and first-look deal with Paramount Studios and its library of 20 projects currently in development.The publicly-quoted internet outfit, which acquired David Dadon's
  • Shanghai set to expand theme park

    The Shanghai Film Studio is pressing ahead with an expansion of its movie-driven theme park.By October, Shanghai will open the second part of a $72m three-phase film park at the old Chedun Film Studio, half an hour from the city centre in Songjiang. The current 17-hectare site already boasts street scenes, imperial palaces, mini submarines and a crashed plane. The studio's founders aim to have a 200-hectare site in five years time, adding an animal kingdom, new rides and resorts
  • Shooting Gallery insolvent, leaves buyer on hook

    New York-based production and distribution company The Shooting Gallery (TSG), producer of such films as Sling Blade and You Can Count On Me and domestic distributor of Croupier, is close to insolvency and may shut its doors. Less than two months after being purchased by Toronto-based new media incubator itemus inc., TSG has run out of money, a victim of the depressed technology sector.According to an itemus press release issued June 19, the financial situation at TSG has deteriorated
  • Shooting Gallery postpones Fall Film Series

    Financially troubled US independent producer/distributor The Shooting Gallery will not release any films through its pioneering film series until 2002. The company has confirmed that the fall series which would release six new titles into 17 major US markets through its partnership with exhibitor Loews Cineplex Entertainment and sponsorship partners has been cancelled. The company hopes to resurrect the series in spring 2002.Shooting Gallery parent company Itemus last week announced th
  • Spain confirms new film promotion laws

    Spain's Ministry of Culture confirmed that a much debated new Cinema Support and Promotion Law was approved by Parliament on Friday, June 22.The law mostly codifies existing film initiatives. However, it does pass into effect a new requirement that Spanish broadcasters invest 3% of their annual earnings in Spanish audiovisual product. The 3% figure is 60% of an existing obligation on broadcasters to invest 5% of earnings in European product.The law also reinstates the country's
  • Spain's Jove festival honours young directors

    Spain's youth-oriented International Cinema Jove Film Festival closed its 16th edition this weekend with top awards going to Iranian feature film Sanam and Danish short 2 Juledag.The festival, which takes place in the Mediterranean coastal town of Valencia, awarded the Valencian Moon prize and $16,500 (PTS3 million) to director Rafa Pitts for Sanam. The film is Pitt's second feature, following 1998's Cinquieme Saison, which also won Jove's top award.D
  • Spanish films get export boost with new promo fund

    Spanish producers can already begin tapping into a new promotion fund for films released abroad, thanks to an initiative launched by the state Ministry of Economy with support from the Spanish Producers' Federation (FAPAE). The fund is effective immediately.Juan Costa, Spain's secretary of state for commerce and tourism, announced yesterday in Madrid that the ministry would boost its funding for audiovisual promotion from $296,000 (PTS57m) to $2.6m (PTS500m) annually in an initial thre
  • Strictly Sinatra

    Dir: Peter Capaldi. UK. 2001. 97 mins.Peter Capaldi, an actor who made award-winning short film It's A Wonderful Life, makes an assured directorial debut with this darkly comic drama which he also wrote. Boosted by appealing performances by two of Britain's finest young actors, Ian Hart and Kelly Macdonald, and a broad Ealing-esque streak of optimism, Strictly Sinatra avoids the pitfalls of grimy working-class British stories. It should be well-received in the UK although its small-sca
  • StudioCanal and Germany's box! line up two titles

    Fledgling Berlin-based production outfit box! Film & Fernsehproduktion has added two new German-language projects to its co-development and first look deal with StudioCanal.Producers Philipp Homberg and Andreas Eicher have commissioned author Horst Bosetzky to write a screenplay on the life of Berlin's record jailbreaker Eckehard 'Ecke' Lehmann. The project is based on Lothar Berg's novel Ohne Kompromiss, to be filmed under the title of Der King. box! has acquired
  • Stuff And Dough (Marfa Si Banii)

    Dir. Cristi Puiu. Romania. 2001. 90mins.Cristi Puiu's feature debut, made on what appears to be a non-existent budget, takes a close look at the underbelly of Romanian everyday life and comes up with a strangely compelling statement that goes way beyond its apparently insouciant approach. A road movie following, for most of the time, three characters driving in a van from Constanta to Bucharest and back, Puiu's film has the look and feel of a home movie. But it is worth looking beyond
  • The Animal

    Dir: Luke Greenfield. US. 2001. 83 mins. After the surprise winter 1999 success of his first starring vehicle, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, former Saturday Night Live funny man Rob Schneider gets the chance to carry a high-profile summer movie with The Animal, a resolutely dumb but occasionally endearing comedy. Backed by an aggressive marketing campaign - distributor Sony paid some US exhibitors to run trailers for The Animal before screenings of The Mummy Returns - the film is on cour
  • The Chimp

    Director: Aktan Abdykalykov. France/Kazakhstan. 2001. 98minsThe desolate Kazakhstan locale may be relatively unknown but everything else about this slight coming of age drama is wearily familiar. The concluding film in director Aktan Abdykalykov's autobiographical trilogy follows a teenage boy in the weeks leading up to his departure for military service. Family strife, the pain of first love and the uncertainty over what lies ahead are the dramatic substance of a muted, reflective pie
  • The Fast And The Furious takes massive $41m

    Universal Pictures continued a spectacular summer at the box office over the weekend with a massive $41m take for its high-speed racing car actioner The Fast And The Furious (pictured left). Playing at 2,628 sites, the film, which is directed by Rob Cohen (Daylight, Dragonheart), cost only $38m to produce and looks set to be one of the year's most profitable pictures. Its site average was an impressive $15,830.Box office was up a remarkable 42% from the same weeken
  • The State I Am In (Die Innere Sicherheit)

    Dir: Christian Petzold. Germany. 2001. 102min.The word terrorism is never mentioned in The State I Am In, but it hangs over the film like a omnipresent, menacing fog. For, with his first theatrical outing, director Christian Petzold has chosen to comment on the 1970s, Germany's dark decade of politically motivated violence. His subtle and quietly approach hits home in a no nonsense way by dissecting the lives of his protagonists. However, for German audiences it appears to have been to
  • Three more sign up for Carpenter's Pencil

    Tristan Ulloa (The Nameless), Maria Adanez (Cha Cha Cha) and Luis Tosar (Flowers From Another World) have signed on to star in director Anton Reixa's The Carpenter's Pencil (El Lapiz Del Carpintero). The project marks the first co-production between Madrid outfits Morena Films and Sogecine, together with Galicia-based start-up Portozas Vision.Xose Morais and director Reixa collaborated on the script for Pencil, a story of love and persecution s
  • TLA sets up US distribution label with First Run

    Philadelphia-based US home video distributor TLA Entertainment Group has launched a new label for alternative films called TLA Releasing and teamed with theatrical distributor First Run Features to release the films theatrically in North America.The first films to be released by the label are Spin The Bottle, a US indie about a reunion of five friends, popular German comedy The Trio, British gay character study Forgive And Forget and Rosa Von Praunhelm's German per
  • Toho Towa, TV Asahi invite Korean Friend to Japan

    Friend, the record-breaking Korean action drama, has secured a release in Japan after Toho Towa and TV Asahi put up a massive $2.1m.The film by Kwak Kyun-taek is represented by Cineclick Asia, which also sold the film for Hong Kong to Mandarin, which is believed to have paid close to $100,000. Toho will release Friend theatrically, with TV Asahi handling all TV rights.The film, which was released in Korea in March and is still in the top ten list, has now passed ei
  • Tomb Raider set for top spot at French box office

    With over 221,000 tickets sold on its first day on release (June 27) in France, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider looks set to kick Pearl Harbor off the top slot at the French box office in its first week. Tomb Raider is the fourth biggest opener in France since the beginning of the year.With little heavyweight competition (Warner Bros' Valentine and SND's Crocodile Dundee In LA attracted a meagre 27,000 and 17,000 admissions respectively) the UIP title
  • Tortilla Soup

    Dir: Maria Ripoll. US. 2001. 103mins.Here's a conundrum: this remake - or rather "Mexican American retelling" - of Ang Lee's 1994 Oscar-nominated Taiwanese film Eat Drink Man Woman is well crafted and for the most part pleasantly diverting. But why remake a hit specialised movie into another specialised movie' Surely the only reason for remaking a great foreign-language film is to recast it into a big budget studio film that could tell the same story to a mainstream audience as in the
  • TV Forum Europe to target international buyers

    Organisers of the newly created TV Forum Europe have unveiled details of the event, which will celebrate its first edition next year in Barcelona between February 18-21.According to organiser Bernard Chevry, the Forum "is reserved exclusively for the commercialisation of rights to European television product and is directed at buyers and programming executives from around the world."Product screenings will be separated into seven genres, including documentaries, news, sports, en
  • UK film minister launches fund for English regions

    Newly-appointed UK film minister Kim Howells will launch a $8.4m (£6m) National Lottery fund for regional investment in England later this month.Howells, who took over from Janet Anderson as minister for tourism, film and broadcasting after this month's UK general election, will unveil the fund in Cambridge on Wednesday June 27. The initiative comes under the auspices of British film support body the Film Council, whose chief executive John Woodward will be speaking at the launch.
  • Universal sells Loews Cineplex stake for a dollar

    Universal Studios has sold its 25.5% stake in exhibitor Loews Cineplex for $1. The studio, a division of Vivendi Universal, sold more than 15m shares to investment bank Goldman Sachs, in a tax move to offset capital gains. The stake was worth approximately $1.8m based on a share price of 12 cents. Universal originally held shares in Canadian cinema circuit Cineplex Odeon before the circuit merged with Sony's Loews Cinemas. Sony Pictures Entertainment retains a 39.5% stake.Loews Cineple
  • Woody Allen eyes Cannes for Hollywood Endings

    Woody Allen has completed post-production on his 34th film Hollywood Endings -- co-financed by DreamWorks SKG and Germany's VCL -- and told international press this weekend that he thinks it is his funniest film in years. He added that he is hoping that it will be presented at the Cannes Film Festival next year.Allen, conducting interviews for his 33rd film The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion which opens domestically through DreamWorks on Aug 10, said that he finished editing
  • York Entertainment starts international sales arm

    US video distributor York Entertainment has created an international sales arm to license its library of urban features to international territories. To that end, the company has hired Corie VanDeutekom, formerly director of international sales for Carlton America, as vice president of international sales.VanDeutekom will launch the international sales company at MIPCOM and MIFED armed with 14 new features including romantic comedy Keepin It Real directed by Brian Cox (Scorp