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30 June 2000

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  • Alliance Atlantis reports 21% revenue boost

    Fuelled by an increase in library revenue, Alliance Atlantis released strong fourth quarter results this week, with revenue up 21.8% to $771.6m compared to $633.4m the previous year. Gross profit was up 37.1% to $179.2m compared to $130.7m. The company's television group was the principal engine, with library revenue up 36.2%. According to a company release, the gross margin increased thanks to a focus on more profitable productions, margin improvement in the motion picture group's dom
  • Amir Malin assumes sole leadership of Artisan

    Amir Malin has assumed sole leadership of Artisan Entertainment following the resignation yesterday of co-chief executive officer Mark Curcio. Malin will from now on be responsible for overseeing all areas of the company and its future growth. Bill Block will remain president of Artisan and will take on additional responsibilities in helping to lead the company's internet initiatives. Ken Schapiro, the company's chief operating officer, will also have increased responsibilities in running the
  • Australia passes digital legislation

    Australia has finalised controversial legislation restricting the number of TV channels in the digital era.Legislation passed late yesterday (June 29) - the final instalment in the laws that will determine Australia's digital TV future - confirmed the three commercial incumbents' continuing monopoly of free-to-air services for at least five years. The only change was that national broadcasters ABC and SBS may now offer additional services. The ruling also applies tight restricti
  • Australian film-makers win tax battle

    Screen writers, actors, up-and-coming producers and others at the low salary end of the Australian film industry are breathing a sigh of relief following the Federal Government's decision to give them the same tax exemption that they recently gave to farmers.An earlier draft of Australia's new tax bill stated that anyone who earns less than A$20,000 a year from small business ventures would not be allowed to offset losses against income earned by other means. This would have prevented
  • Baise-moi opens well but faces lawsuit

    Controversial French title Baise-moi (Fuck Me) racked up 5,634 admissions from only 64 screens on its opening day in its home territory (June 28), despite the fact that France was playing Portugal that night in the semi-finals of the Euro 2000 soccer tournament.French exhibitor UGC - whose CEO, Guy Verrechia, received the exhibitor of the year award at the Cinema Expo conference in Amsterdam last night - may come to regret refusing to screen the film. The Gaumont and MK2 circuit
  • Big Momma fails to topple Gladiator

    Big Momma's House failed to unseat Gladiator from the top of the UK box office last weekend as the Roman epic continued its glory run in the cinema arena. Gladiator scooped $1.5m (£1m) on its seventh weekend bringing its total to an unbelievable $36.7m (£24.4m). The Martin Lawrence comedy from 20th Century Fox grossed $1.2m (£800,000) in its opening three days placing it at number two in the chart.UK ticket revenues returned to normal pre-summer levels after the me
  • Bolstered BBC Films encroaches on FilmFour turf

    A bolstered BBC Films could be hived off from its hulking parent company and housed in new digs near London's Charlotte Street, within spitting distance of archrival FilmFour, according to plans currently being drawn up by the UK's public broadcaster. Assuming those plans get rubberstamped, BBC Films will soon re-locate from its current offices deep within the BBC's White City labyrinth in West London and arrive at this new site just minutes away from bustling SoHo armed with an increa
  • Canal Plus shareholders oppose merger terms

    ADAM, a group of activists which lobby on behalf of minority shareholder rights in France, says it will oppose the three-way merger of Canal Plus, Vivendi and Seagram.The group's chairman, Colette Neuville, said the group would seek to ensure that a rule obliging Vivendi to make a full public offer of the 51% of Canal Plus it does not already own was brought into force. The group is taking its case to the French markets regulator, the Conseil des Marches Financiers (CMF), and then the
  • Carrey tops US box office, Chickens in at two

    20th Century Fox claimed the top spot at the North American box office in the week that studio chief Bill Mechanic resigned his post. But the $24.2m opening for grossout comedy Me, Myself & Irene could be considered a disappointment for the studio which had been heralding the picture as a surefire summer winner. Reuniting Jim Carrey and writer/directors Peter & Bobby Farrelly who last worked together in 1994's Dumb And Dumber, the film pales in comparison to other Carrey openers such
  • China Star confirms Star TV output deal

    China Star Entertainment has confirmed that it has struck a three-year output deal with regional broadcast powerhouse Star TV covering the 100 features produced under its 100 Years Of Cinema banner (Screendaily, May 16).The three-year deal gives Star exclusive video-on-demand, pay-per-view and pay-TV rights in both Mandarin and Cantonese versions. Although neither company confirmed financial details, the value of the deal is understood to be in the region of $30m.One Hund
  • CINE EXPO: Internet makes release dates go global

    One of the strongest messages to emerge at this week's Cinema Expo conference in Amsterdam is that the growing influence of the internet - particularly among cinema's prime audience of 14 to 19-year-olds - is driving distributors towards global release dates.Driving the point home was a screening of Sony Pictures Entertainment's tent-pole summer release The Patriot which opens July 4 weekend in North America followed by a rapid international roll out. Tony Manne, executive vice
  • CINE EXPO: Sands to keep focus on festival circuit

    Rick Sands, Miramax's chairman of worldwide distribution, has reassured the company's international distributors that it will not forsake international film festivals to launch its films, despite the pressure to shorten global release windows."There is a growing trend to accelerate the international release but we must not forget the invaluable support and the use of talent at international film festivals," Sands said.Miramax will continue to tailor the timing of release schedul
  • CINE EXPO: Zoradi supports old-school marketing

    Mark Zoradi, president of Buena Vista International, encouraged international exhibitors to focus on traditional marketing methods in order to improve profit margins, at Cinema Expo this week. Speaking prior to BVI's product showreel and digital screening of Dinosaur, his message to cinema operators was to revitalise their use of traditional marketing materials such as trailers, posters and standees, as a way to create better awareness of films."We had a good year in 1999
  • Cinema industry puts date-stamp on digital dawn

    Digital cinema pioneer QUALCOMM became the first company to commit to a date for the commercial launch of its new technology at the Cinema Expo convention in Amsterdam this week.QUALCOMM said it expects to launch and roll out its first generation digital cinema delivery system within the next 12 months. It will be the first company to make all, or any part, of digital cinema technology available to distributors and exhibitors. Up until now, only prototype technology and projectors have
  • Dana Reid segues into production deal at Artisan

    Artisan Pictures has signed a first look production deal with Dana Reid, a former vice president of production at Artisan, and his new company Flash Entertainment. The arrangement covers theatrical and direct-to-video productions.Reid joined Artisan in 1997 from ICM where he worked alongside agent Ken Kamins. While at Artisan he worked on seven pictures including Black Mask, Belly and Foolish, while also developing and producing a number of direct-to-video release
  • Diller re-grouping anticipates dealmaking binge

    Barry Diller's USA Networks has streamlined itself into three distinct yet interrelated business units as a prelude to what many believe will another aggressive round of deal-making on both sides of the Atlantic especially now that this sprawling electronic empire is about to become affiliated with Vivendi Universal.The three divisions -- representing Entertainment, Information & Services, and Electronic Retailing -- will help USA Networks better digest the 15 companies it has hoovered
  • Ecosse, Shivas to produce Disraeli biopic

    Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd is being lined up to star as Benjamin Disraeli in the provisionally titled Dizzy, a feature dramatising the life of the brilliant British prime minister being produced by Mark Shivas and Ecosse Films.Gruffudd would play Disraeli at 28 years old in the film, which revolves around his affair with an older married woman. Gruffudd's feature credits include the upcoming 102 Dalmatians and Very Annie Mary, along with Wilde and Titanic
  • Edinburgh lines up Dancer as opening night film

    The Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 13-27) is lining up Lars von Trier's Dancer In The Dark as opening film and Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love to close the event.While neither title is finalised, festival chief Lizzie Francke is currently putting the final touches to a programme that is due to be unveiled mid-July. Titles expected to appear at the festival's 54th edition include Nagisa Oshima's Gohatto, starring Takeshi Kitano, and a gala screeni
  • European exhibitors urged to curtail over-building

    Unless European cinema operators, particularly those in Germany, scale back their multiplex building ambitions then admissions per screen will reach dangerously low levels, a leading analyst has warned exhibitors attending the Cinema Expo convention in Amsterdam.Speaking at Monday's European Exhibition seminar, Karsten-Peter Grummitt of Dodona Research, the UK-based outfit normally given to issuing rosy outlooks on the state of worldwide cinema-going, claimed that unrealistic attendanc
  • Fete du Cinema overcomes Euro 2000

    Despite France's on-going success in the Euro 2000 soccer tournament, the country's annual cinema promotion scheme - the Fete du Cinema - managed to attract 3.8 million admissions over three days from June 25-27.Ticket sales were down 12% compared to last year's record 4.3 million, mostly due to a 20% slide on Sunday when France played Spain in the Euro 2000 quarter-finals. However attendance was 15% higher than in 1998 when the Fete du Cinema coincided with the World Cup.Organi
  • Filmart reports record-breaking attendance

    Buyer numbers rocketed at leading Hong Kong film event Filmart which closed today (June 30), a surge pundits say highlights the recovery of the local film and TV sector.At the end of the three-day market, Filmart had registered more than 1,120 buyers, a record for the four-year-old event. Original predictions reckoned on 700.Exhibitor numbers also swelled, with 107 registered this year, up 30% on 1999. A record 221 buyers and 32 exhibitors were from mainland China.The ups
  • Fine Line options script from O'Connor brothers

    Fine Line Features has optioned Pride And Glory, a new script from Gregory and Gavin O'Connor, the same team behind Fine Line's Tumbleweeds. The script, which the brothers co-wrote with Robert A Hopes, is currently being reworked by Joe Carnahan, who wrote and directed Blood, Guts, Bullets And Octane.Gavin O'Connor will direct the project which is set to start shooting later this year. The drama is set in the New York City Police Department and looks into the prof
  • Garage Olimpo wins at Italy's Golden Globes

    Marco Bechi's Garage Olimpo, a drama about the so-called disappeared ones in Argentina, won best film at Italy's Golden Globes, the annual awards of the foreign press. Held in Rome's historic film studios of Cinecitta on the set of Ettore Scola's latest film, Concorenza Sleale, the event awarded best actress to Lucia Bose for her part in Ferzan Ozpetek's Harem Suare. Best actor went to Leo Gullotta for his role in Maurizio Zaccaro's A Good Man, for which he
  • Granada float aims for $2.25 billion

    Granada Media, the media arm of the UK's Granada Group, plans to raise up to $2.25 billion through its upcoming floatation, the company revealed on Monday.Granada Media, which is demerging from its media and hospitality parent, said the share issue could value the new company at more than $10 billion.The offering is seen partly as a way to raise cash for a bid for either Carlton Communications or United News & Media, which are in the process of merging.Granada chief execu
  • Holst lines up adaptation as second feature

    Norwegian director Marius Holst is developing an adaptation of an Ingvar Ambjornsen short story - Oyenstikkere - as a follow-up to his successful debut feature Cross My Heart And Hope To Die.Nikolaj Frobenius, whose credits include Norwegian thriller Insomnia, has written the script and Scandinavian actors Marie Bonnevie, Mikael Persbrandt and Kim Bodnia have been lined up to star. Holst's own company, 4', will produce the $960,000 (NKr8.3m) film with Norway's Motl
  • India's Mukta Arts unveils flotation plans

    Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts has lined up a $25m initial public offer on the Mumbai stock exchange for the second week of July, making it the first major Indian film production company to go corporate.The 17-year-old company has produced a string of Hindi hits including Taal, the first Indian feature to make it into the US box office top 20. Ghai has ambitious expansion plans for the company which include building new production studios and setting up a research and training centre
  • Industry turns out for closure of Shochiku studios

    Nearly 700 film industry figures and other guests, including director Yoji Yamada and veteran stars Chieko Baisho and Rentaro Mikuni, turned up for the ceremony held yesterday (June 26) to mark the closing of Shochiku's historic Ofuna Studio complex.First opened in 1936 near the seaside town of Kamakura, the Ofuna Studio has been home to Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and other greats of Japanese cinema, as well as the site of some of the Japanese film industry's biggest box office trium
  • Internationalmedia strikes deal with Johnson

    Internationalmedia, the company formed from the merger between Intermedia and Pacifica, has finalised a first-look deal with US producer Mark Johnson.The move, which was expected, comes after Intermedia, Johnson and USA Films reportedly boarded The Code, a WW2 story currently in development. Johnson, who may set up Brad Silberling's Baby's In Black at Intermedia, has credits including Galaxy Quest, Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam. Johnson is
  • Italy's Panorama pacts with US' Full Circle

    Rome's Panorama Films has partnered with Los Angeles-based Full Circle Entertainment to develop and produce English-language films in Europe and the US, the Italian company has announced. Full Circle's Jolie Chain and Panorama co-directors Marco Valerio Pugini and Ute Leonhardt are in talks with local filmmakers Eduardo Winspeare (Sangue Vivo) and Enzo Monteleone (writer of Academy Award-winner Mediterraneo) for their first joint projects.Panorama, founded 10 years ago as
  • Japan's Hitachi develops digital satellite venture

    Japan's Hitachi is developing a data broadcasting system that will automatically beam content such as films, music and restaurant information from a communications satellite to the internal hard drives of subscribers' dedicated digital receivers. Subscribers can then view the content at their leisure. Hitachi is assembling a consortium of partners, including satellite broadcasters and leading electronics makers, to work on the project. The consortium will apply for a licence at the end
  • Jet Set takes off at French box office

    Two smaller French titles - Fabien Onteniente's comedy Jet Set and Lionel Delplanque's horror film Promenons Nous Dans Les Bois - have been the hottest tickets in France for the week ending June 20.Jet Set, a fish out of water tale, has attracted a smash 428,000 admissions in its first week. The film was already a hot seller in Cannes - handled worldwide by Hilltop in association with France's Timing, it sold extensively at the Marche, including the US to Miramax.
  • Kinowelt makes first direct move into broadcasting

    German film giant Kinowelt has bought a 10% stake in satellite broadcast start-up B.TV Television.The company is a sister operation to B.TV Baden and B.TV Wuerttemberg, which are successful local broadcasters in the Baden-Wuerttemberg (BW) region. It begins broadcast of the new channel on July 15 using the Astra satellite and cable head ends to achieve 100% coverage of BW households by the end of the year and some 28 million satellite subscribers in Europe. Expansion into other German
  • Kirch set to take over SAT1

    The Kirch group is poised to take full control of Germany's populist commercial channel SAT1 in a deal worth upwards of $700m, according to local reports.Kirch is expected to buy the 41% stake in SAT1 which is owned by publisher Axel Springer. While Kirch offered no comment, Springer confirmed that it has been in long-running talks with Kirch about the building of a family of channels including Kabel 1 and N24 around the Pro7 flagship channel. It said that these negotiations had not be
  • Kirch, Axel Springer create German TV giant

    A new German TV giant is to be born following the merger of SAT1 and ProSieben (Pro7) Media which was announced today. The new group, ProSiebenSAT1 Media, which overtakes CLT-Ufa's RTL grouping, will be floated on the stock exchange later this year, but remain controlled by the Kirch group.With an estimated market value of Euros11bn, the group will also include the Kabel 1 entertainment channel and round the clock news service N24. Proforma turnover is stated at Euros2bn and pre
  • Krampack

    Dir: Cesc Gay. Spain. 2000. 90 mins.Prod co: Messidor Films. Backers: Canal Plus, Television de la Catalunya. Int'l sales: Art Box. Prod: Marta Esteban, Gerardo Herrero. Scr: Cesc Gay, Tomas Aragay. DoP: Andreu Rebes. Prod des: Llorenc Miguel. Editor: Frank Gutierrez. Music: Joan Quilis, Albert Manera, Ricard Casals. Main cast: Fernando Ramallo, Jordi Vilches, Marieta Orozco, Esther Nubiola, Chisco Amado.This small, likeable, unpretentious Catalan coming-of-age film seems an unl
  • LA Confidential's Hanson hits Melbourne festival

    LA Confidential's Curtis Hanson will attend the Melbourne International Film Festival when the US director's Wonderboys opens the event.Hanson will also participate in a q&a session during the 19-day event, which runs from July 19 to August 6.Home-grown talent will be showcased on the closing night, with the local premiere of writer-director Vincent Giarrusso's debut Mallboy, the only Australian title in official selection at Cannes this year. Two films by P
  • Leader of the pack

    Pierre Lescure, the new head of film and TV activities following the Vivendi Seagram merger, is unlikely to impose French culture on Universal Studios if his record collection is anything to go by. Patrick Frater reports.If Pierre Lescure were re-cast as an animal, he might come back as a bloodhound. Apart from the obvious physical similarities - dark, bagged eyes, a gruff, but elegant exterior and a bark worse than his bite - the new head of film and TV at Vivendi Univer
  • Ledwith gets promoted to vp at Universal Int'l

    Jack Ledwith has been promoted to vice president, international distribution, at Universal Pictures reporting to Nadia Bronson, the studio's president of international marketing, distribution and operations.Ledwith joined Universal in 1996 as director of planning and analysis, international distribution; previously he had worked at Carolco Pictures as director of international sales and before that had held a number of positions in domestic and international distribution at DeLaurenti
  • Little Crumb director to adapt Pete, The Rascal

    Dutch writer-director Maria Peters, whose credits include the Netherlands' biggest local hit last year, Little Crumb (Kruimeltje), based on the novel by Chris van Abkoude, is developing another adaptation of the late writer's works.Peters is combining all eight novels in Van Abkoude's Pete, The Rascal (Pietje Bell) series into one children's film. Little Crumb (Kruimeltje), set in Rotterdam in the 1920s, attracted 1.2 million ticket sales after its 115-screen relea
  • Miramax takes option for stake in Bac

    Miramax Films has secured the option to acquire a 1.9% stake in Bac Majestic, the holding company of Miramax's regular French distributor Bac Films, ahead of its float.Sales arm Miramax International has also renewed its distribution pact with Bac Films for three years. Bac, which is to float next month, recently formed a joint venture with StudioCanal to handle distribution on Canal's titles."Bac is the leading independent distributor in France," Miramax's chairman, world-wide
  • News Corp buys stake in Indian portal

    Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has acquired a 15% stake in Indian technology portal, managed by network computing company Microland, for an undisclosed price"We found the web-site a potentially valuable and viable business proposition for the information technology community. It is managed by the Microland Group and has strong revenue streams. We found it a good bet," said Star TV's Indian CEO Peter Mukerjea.Murdoch stated his intention to take equity positions in Indian
  • Norway's Quart music fest becomes movie launchpad

    Norwegian film distributors are increasingly using the country's largest music festival - the Quart festival in Kristiansand - as a promotional platform for new releases. This year the event is being used to showcase highly-anticipated Norwegian title Detector, from first-time director Pal Jackman.The Quart festival, widely renowned as Norway's most important popular music event and currently in its ninth year, has screened 12 upcoming movies a year since 1998. Besides Detect
  • OBITUARY: Vittorio Gassman

    Vittorio Gassman, one of Italy's most indomitable theatre and cinema icons, died Thursday at age 78 from a heart attack. The actor, who defined an era of Italian cinema and was known as much for his dramatic roles as his comedic gems, appeared in such classic films as I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal On Madonna Street), Profumo Di Donna and We All Loved Each Other So Much. Born in Genova in 1922 to a German engineer and an Italian housewife, Gassman studied acting briefly
  • Olswang launches media corporate finance house

    UK law firm Olswang has launched LongAcre Partners, an independent corporate finance advisor, specialising in technology, media and communications.JP Morgan Corsair II Capital Partners, the $1bn investment fund of JP Morgan, has taken a 15% stake in the operation.LongAcre's board of directors includes Olswang chairman Simon Olswang; Olswang chief executive officer Jonathan Goldstein; Marc Hotimsky, a former managing director at Credit Suisse First Boston; Steve Smith, a former m
  • Overseas completes $47m in new financing

    Overseas FilmGroup has closed on the $17m equity investment by Rosemary Street Productions, the investment vehicle of New York-based commercial production and studio facilities company EUE Screen Gems Ltd. Overseas has also finalised a new five year, secured revolving credit facility with Chase Securities which has been increased from $30m to $40m.Rosemary Street now holds 59.5% of the outstanding voting shares of Overseas; Rosemary Street president Christopher Cooney is now chief exe
  • Oz investors won't let filmmakers wiggle out of it

    Investors in Australian title The Wiggles Movie are considering taking legal action against production company Gladusaurus Productions, manager Movieco Australia, the promoter, and perhaps the distributor 20th Century Fox, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.The article reports that only about 13% of $964,000 (A$1.6m) in production funding has been returned to the film's 50 investors. The film grossed $1.6m (A$2.6m) from its theatrical release in Australia and sales ag
  • Pizza King reigns at Spain's Cine Jove

    Danish director Ole Christian Madsen last week walked away with the top prize at Spain's Cinema Jove International Film Festival, the Luna de Valencia (Valencian Moon), for his film Pizza King. Made on a budget of $800,000, Pizza premiered in Denmark to a strong audience turnout after distribution problems delayed its release. The Luna comes with a prize of $17,000. The 15th edition of the annual festival, held in Valencia June 17-24, also saw Indian-UK co-producti
  • Prisa up 18% after first day's trading

    Spanish multimedia conglomerate Grupo Prisa - which took a risk on a volatile stock market by floating 20% of its shares yesterday (June 28) - came out a winner with a revaluation of its shares by 18.32% to Euros24.61 at day's end on the Bolsa, the Spanish stock exchange.Prisa's IPO took off yesterday morning like a rocket, with shares rising more than 20% above their issue price, which was set on Monday at Euros20.80. The surprisingly high initial demand for shares on the offer -- mor
  • Producers upbeat about first Spanish-US Forum

    The first annual Ibero-American Co-production Forum closed Thursday in Madrid with a sense of optimism about the ramifications of Forum host Telefonica Media's planned $100m production investment in Ibero-American cinema. General reactions to the three-day Forum, which was co-hosted by the Spanish Producers' Federation (FAPAE), were positive. Producers from across Spain and Latin America vowed that they were pending closure on co-production and distribution deals, some of which are exp
  • Production report: EU puts Danish film on a roll

    Maverick Danish director Lars von Trier may have won the Palme d'Or in Cannes for Dancer In The Dark, but two other Nordic films, Roy Andersson's Songs From The Second Floor from Sweden and Liv Ullmann's Faithless from Norway, enjoyed just as much buzz on the Croisette. Both relied on backing from Swedish state broadcaster SVT, which has become an important funding source for Scandinavian films in recent years. Ironically, the broadcaster will be reducing its featu
  • Regent & Media Asia strike co-production pact

    LA-based Regent Entertainment has sealed a co-production deal with Hong Kong's Media Asia kicking off with Gen-Y Cops, the sequel to Media Asia's hit Gen-X Cops, which will star Paul Rudd and a largely Asian supporting cast.Rudd, whose credits include Clueless, The Object Of My Affection, The Cider House Rules and 200 Cigarettes, plays an American FBI agent in the movie assigned to protect a lethal attack robot from a team of high-tech thieves
  • Rosa And Cornelia

    Dir: Giorgio Treves. 2000. Italy. 90 mins.Prod co: Gierre-Film Tre. Domestic dist: Lantia Cinema e Audiovisivi. Exec prod: Sandro Frezza. Prod: Grazia Volpi. Scr: Remo Binosi, Francois De Maulde, Treves, from Binosi's play, L'Attesa. DoP: Camillo Bazzoni. Prod des: Lorenzo Baraldi. Ed: Carla Simoncelli. Music: Franco Piersanti. Main cast: Stefania Rocca, Chiara Muti, Athina Cenci, Massimo Poggio.Adapted from a successful stage play, Rosa And Cornelia struggles onto
  • STAR gets DreamWorks films for India & Pakistan

    News Corp-owned STAR TV has concluded a deal with DreamWorks SKG to broadcast nine films on its STAR Movies channel in India and Pakistan. The titles include The Peacemaker, Deep Impact, Forces Of Nature, Antz and The Prince Of Egypt.The DreamWorks deal joins product from 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Co and MGM on STAR's lineup in India and Pakistan. "We are very pleased to have secured this agreement and look forward to working with the STAR te
  • Star in talks to buy stake in India's Hathway

    Rupert Murdoch's Star TV is in talks to acquire a 20% stake in Indian cable operator Hathway Cable & Datacom as part of its plan to re-enter the Indian cable industry.If the talks are successful Star will gain access to a broadband network capable of delivering internet and cable TV and a platform to compete with rival Zee Network. Star lost its foothold in the Indian cable sector in October last year when it sold a 50% stake in its Zee joint venture back to the Indian broadcaster. Zee
  • Sundance Channel buys five Latin American pictures

    US cable station Sundance Channel has acquired US television rights to five Latin American titles which will be broadcast in August as part of Arte Latino, a tribute to Latin American film-making.The films are Martin Rejtman's Silvia Prieto from Argentina, Mercedes Garcia Guevera's Hidden River from Argentina, Carlos Bolado's Bajo California from Mexico, Michael Skolnik and William O'Neill's documentary The Hot Corner from Cuba and Patricia Cardoso's The
  • Telefonica makes formal Endemol bid

    Spanish telecommunications and media powerhouse Telefonica has launched its anticipated public offer to buy out Dutch entertainment giant Endemol. The offer, which runs from July 3-24, values Endemol at Euros4.79bn.The Spanish company has had to pay a high price to complete the buy-out, thanks to a fall in share value at Telefonica ostensibly brought about by insider trading accusations against the company's president, Juan Villalonga. The anticipated offer of 5.58 Telefonica sh
  • Telefonica responds to Villalonga controversy

    Spain's Telefonica responded this week to reports published in Spanish daily El Mundo that president Juan Villalonga benefited from insider information in the purchase of Telefonica stock options in 1998.The report alleged that Villalonga had already initiated merger talks with both British Telecom and WorldCom-MCI prior to his buying 264,224 Telefonica share options with a $1.2m (PTS200m) loan on January 2, 1998. It quoted Villalonga at a December 1997 board meeting stating tha
  • The Patriot

    The struggle for control of Groupe Videotron, Canada's third-largest cable supplier, is heating up again. Rogers Communications has gone to court in an effort to lift an injunction handed down in April that effectively prevents its merger with Videotron. In February, the nation's largest cableco tendered a bid for the company only to have it blocked by Videotron shareholder Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec, a large pension fund. At that time, the Caisse produced a shareholder
  • The Perfect Storm

    Dir: Wolfgang Petersen. US. 2000. 129 mins.Prod cos: Baltimore Spring Creek Pictures, Radiant Productions. Worldwide dist: Warner Bros. Exec prods: Barry Levinson, Duncan Henderson. Prods: Paula Weinstein, Wolfgang Petersen, Gail Katz. Scr: Bill Wittliff, based on the book by Sebastian Junger. DoP: John Seale. Prod des: William Sandell. Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce. Mus: James Horner. Main cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, John C Reilly, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Will
  • Things You Can Tell goes straight to Showtime

    Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, the all-female tableau film which world premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and which opened Un Certain Regard at Cannes, will go straight to Showtime in North America, bypassing a theatrical release by rights-holder United Artists (UA).UA, the specialised arm of MGM, bought domestic rights to the movie prior to Sundance from production company Franchise Pictures and the film was set to open during the summer. However, Sho
  • Tulips still blooming at Italian box office

    The Danish box office is demonstrating that festival success is not the only route to success for locally-made films.Though Berlin-darling Italian For Beginners is still in 7th place after 19 weeks on release and has now scored some 830,000 admissions, other home-grown films like the comedy Flickering Lights (440,000), thefamily-film Flying Granny (240,000) and the realistic drama The Bench(180,000) have been able to score despite tough blockbu
  • Tykwer, Szabo secure German public funding

    Tom Tykwer and Istvan Szabo are amongst the film-makers to secure cash in the latest round of funding awards from financing body the German Federal Film Board (FFA).Tykwer won funding worth $700,000 for his next feature, Heaven, from a script by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Pieseiewicz. The Berlin-based fund is also putting up more than $380,000 for Hungarian director Istvan Szabo's next project, historical drama Taking Sides, which will begin shooting at t
  • United, Malone carve out broadband powerhouse

    UnitedGlobalCom, the holding company that already controls one of the fastest growing broadband networks in Europe, will become the most important high-speed internet player in Latin America after reportedly acquiring most of the international distribution and programming assets belonging to John Malone's Liberty Media.According to the Wall Street Journal, United is expected to announce today that Liberty Media will end up as its largest shareholder under a complex multi-tiered
  • United, Malone confirm broadband partnership

    UnitedGlobalCom (United), the cable group that already controls one of the fastest growing broadband networks in Europe, will become the most important cable TV and high-speed internet player in Latin America. It is acquiring most of the international distribution and programming assets belonging to John Malone's Liberty Media.Under the terms of a complex $3.5bn deal announced today, Liberty will sell its broadband interests - including a 25% interest in the UK's number two cable netwo
  • Universal dubs specialised arm Universal Focus

    Universal Pictures has named its domestic specialised film division Universal Focus. Created in 1999 as the studio's marketing and distribution unit for "niche-oriented productions and acquisitions", Universal Focus is run by executive vice president Claudia Gray and senior vice president Paul Hardart and will handle films from sources including WT2 Films, DNA Films, Alan Parker's Dirty Hands Productions, Jersey Shore Films, The Shooting Gallery, Catch 23 Productions, Steinhardt/Baer Producti
  • Video Networks raises $150m for expansion

    UK video-on-demand company Video Networks has raised equity financing worth more than $154m (£102m) from investment partnership Digital Explosion, the company announced today (June 29).Video Networks chief executive and founder Simon Hochhauser said the new funds would be used to expand the company's Homechoice broadband video-on-demand, interactive TV and fast Internet services across London from June 29th and then across the UK. Homechoice was launched late last year in North West Lo
  • Villalonga retains position despite investigation

    Telefonica president Juan Villalonga emerged from a critical board meeting yesterday (June 28) with his position intact, despite an ongoing investigation into accusations that he benefited from insider information when he purchased options for shares of Telefonica in January, 1998.There was speculation that Telefonica's key shareholders, banks BBVA and La Caixa, might bow to pressure to demand the controversial president's resignation. Reports suggest that BBVA and La Caixa prefer to w
  • Welland tackles miners' struggle for Working Title

    Academy Award-winner Colin Welland has written Tower, a dramatisation of the true story of embattled South Wales miners, for the UK's Working Title Films, Ireland's David P Kelly Productions and director Marc Evans.The feature, budgeted at roughly $10m, follows the 1994 story of the last 239 miners at the last deep mine in South Wales who defy Government plans to close the Tower colliery. Led by union leader Tyrone O'Sullivan, they set up TEBO - short for Tower Employees Buy-Out
  • Wheels rolls away with Sochi grand prize

    Serbian comedy Wheels, written and directed by newcomer Djordje Milosavljevic, won the grand prize at this year's Sochi International Film Festival, which took place in Sochi, Russia from June 7-17.The international jury, chaired by veteran Indian director Mrinal Sen, also awarded its special prize to Can Togay's A Winter In The Back Of Beyond, a co-production between Hungary and France.The festival, which screened 18 features in competition, was running side-by-s
  • Winchester hooks Midler's All Girl, Merv Griffin

    The UK's Winchester Entertainment, which unveiled pre-tax profits up a record 205% yesterday (June 27), has struck first-look deals with entertainment impresario Merv Griffin and Bette Midler and Bonnie Bruckheimer's All Girl Productions.The UK film and TV concern will act as overseas sales agents on films from the two production outfits budgeted between $15m and $70m. Winchester chief executive Gary Smith aims for Winchester to handle four pictures a year from the two companies.