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3 April 2001

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  • Eichinger steps down as Constantin chairman

    Constantin Film's Bernd Eichinger has stepped down from his position as board chairman to concentrate his energies on production - the company's in-house output having more than doubled in the last year.In a statement, Eichinger declared: "In the past few months I had already increasingly withdrawn from the management of Constantin Film AG and passed these duties to my four board colleagues [Thomas Peter Friedl, Jochen Kamlah, Martin Moszkowicz and Daniel Wiest].After the positive expe
  • First Run gets US home video rights to DEFA films

    New York-based independent First Run Features has signed a partnership agreement with Icestorm International to act as exclusive North American home video distributor of the films of DEFA, the state-run studios of the former German Democratic Republic.DEFA (Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft) was headquartered in the famous UFA Studios in Babelsberg near Berlin and kickstarted the careers of actors and directors like Fritz Lang, Marlene Dietrich, Billy Wilder and Armin Mueller-Stahl.
  • Fox TV signs output deal with Antenna TV in Greece

    20th Century Fox Television Distribution has signed a film and TV programming output deal with Antenna TV SA in Greece, giving free TV rights to the media group to all new Fox films and TV series as well as product from the studio's library.The deal was concluded between Steve Cornish, senior vice president and managing director, Fox Television Distribution Europe, and Theodore M Kyriakou, managing director of Antenna.Antenna TV owns and operates broadcast network and programm
  • French government tries to sell SFP group again

    The French government has pressed ahead once again with the privatisation of Societe Francaise de Production (SFP), the massive studios and facilities group that has been a cash-swallowing albatross around its neck. The plan is due to be formalised in the next few days, presented to works committees and completed by the end of June. It is likely to involve some job losses and possibly the transfer of some staff to public broadcaster France Television, said the Culture Ministry. However
  • Germany's free TV applauded at MIP-TV

    Although the notion may not be applicable in every economic sector, public-private partnership was put forward as an explanation for the recent success of Germany's free TV market. "Partnerships between public and private sectors in Germany have helped improve quality and increase programme exports," said Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of RTL Television, yesterday at a conference on the eve of the Cannes MIP-TV programmes market. "It has allowed [Germany] to catch up with other major players such as Bri
  • Hong Kong's Pay-TV market in turmoil

    They cannot both be right. On the one hand, Television Broadcasts (TVB) says it's now ready to pull out of Hong Kong's pay-TV market, joining two other companies that have already abandoned the highly competitive Chinese harbour colony, Rupert Murdoch's STAR TV and also the Hong Kong Network (NETV). On the other, Richard Li's struggling Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW) announced that it expects to switch its Network Of The World (NOW) channel from a free service to one paid for throug
  • Le Placard opens LA six title French film showcase

    Francis Veber's The Closet (Le Placard) kicks off the fifth annual City Of Lights, City Of Angels Film Festival in Los Angeles next Tuesday (April 10), an annual showcase of six new French feature films funded by the Franco-American Cultural Fund - a collaborative effort among the Directors Guild Of America, the Motion Picture Association, Writers Guild Of America, west, and France's Society Of Authors, Composers and Editors of Music (SACEM).Co-sponsored by the UCLA Film
  • MJ Peckos named president of First Look Pictures

    MJ Peckos has been named president of First Look Pictures, the US theatrical distribution division of First Look Media (formerly Overseas Filmgroup). Peckos, who joined First Look in 1995 as senior vice president of theatrical marketing and distribution, will oversee all aspects of the company's operations including acquisitions, marketing, publicity and distribution. She will also act as advisor for two other divisions in First Look Media - worldwide film licensing arm Overseas Filmgroup and
  • Multithematiques Italia clinches Universal deal

    Multithematiques Italia SpA, the Italian arm of pan-European theme channel group Multithematiques SA, has clinched exclusive pay-TV rights to a collection of features and TV series from Universal Studios International.The agreement which will furnish the group's channels including CineCinemas 1, CineCinemas 2, CineClassics and Canal Jimmy includes Universal library titles such as Cleopatra (1934), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Morocco, The Killers and Mary,
  • Simply Committed teams with Pressman and Expand

    New Berlin and Paris-based production outfit Simply Committed, co-founded by producer Peter Paulich and German-American actor Thomas Heinze, will announce the first projects stemming from its partnership with US producing stalwart Ed Pressman at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Quite separately, Simply has also committed to a joint venture with Expand Images, a European leader in game-shows and animated programming which is part-owned by StudioCanal. Together, Simply and Expand are cr
  • Sloss forges global film financing hub for indies

    John Sloss,the New York-based entertainment lawyer who brokered so many of the distribution deals at this year's Sundance Film Festival, is now wading fully into the project financing arena through a new standalone packaging operation known as Cinetic Media.Cinetic, which will work in close co-ordination with his Sloss Law Office, will act essentially as a strategic go-between for both filmmakers and their potential end-usersaround the world.Through Cinetic, independent-minded t
  • Spy Kids stuns US box office with $27m opening

    It was a triumphant weekend for Miramax Films at the box office as its $35m Spy Kids, one of its first production forays into family entertainment, took a massive $27m through genre label Dimension Films. The film played on 3,104 screens for an average of $8,698. A strong opening was expected for the film, conceived and directed by Robert Rodriguez and recently screened to exhibitors at ShoWest, but $27m exceeded even Dimension's expectations. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino s
  • The Brothers

    Dir: Gary Hardwick. US. 2001. 98mins.Writer-director Gary Hardwick has dubbed The Brothers, his serio-comedy about sex, love and friendship among African-American men, 'Refusing To Exhale'. Considering the theme and tone of his movie, it is an apt label that plays upon Waiting To Exhale, the 1995 film about black middle-class females. A contemporary report from the sexual battlefront, The Brothers centres on four upscale black men at a crucial phase of their lives, whe
  • Tykwer and Petzold dominate German Lolas

    Christian Petzold's The State I Am In (Die Innere Sicherheit) and Tom Tykwer's The Princess And The Warrior (Der Krieger Und Die Kaiserin) came away with four nominations each for this year's German Film Awards. Who will end up winning the statuettes - to be known as Lola following a vote by viewers of private TV station ProSieben and readers of the TV and radio listings magazine TV Spielfilm - will be revealed on June 22nd in the historical German St
  • Vivendi to give up BSkyB for more of USA Networks

    French media giant Vivendi Universal has informed analysts at a behind-closed-doors briefing that it is seeking to increase its 43% stake in Barry Diller's USA Networks to 63% by acquiring a 20% shareholding from John Malone's Liberty Media. As part of the deal, Vivendi would be looking to get majority control also of Multithematiques. In return, Vivendi chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Messier has been quoted as saying he would be prepared to relinquish at least part of his 23% stake in UK