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30 March 2000

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  • Almodovar wins Foreign Language Film for Spain

    Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film last night, ending a triumphant year which began last April with the film's Spanish release.The prize came 12 years after his first nomination ' in 1988 for Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. He was presented with the award by a star of that film ' Antonio Banderas, and the star of his last two films, Live Flesh and All About My Mother, Penelope Cruz.The
  • American Beauty wins 5 Oscars including Picture

    As expected American Beauty won the major Oscars at the 72nd annual Academy Awards ceremony, winning in five categories - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.The $15m production which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year was the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar for six-year-old movie studio DreamWorks SKG. It also marked a personal victory for British theatre director Sam Mendes who made his feature debut
  • American Pie outstrips domestic gross overseas

    The high-school comedy American Pie which recently passed the $100m mark at the international box office has now scored more overseas than at the domestic box office. The $11m Universal title has become one of the studio's most profitable films after taking $102.5m at the North American box office since its July release last year. However, Summit Entertainment, which bought rights for all non-English language speaking territories, has proved that the US-born "gross-out" style of comedy
  • Angels sets Icelandic record

    Icelandic director-producer Fridrik Thor Fridriksson's latest offering, Angels Of The Universe, has become Iceland's highest-grossing domestic film, racking up an unprecedented 77,233 admissions when it re-entered the box office chart this week.Previously, Iceland's most successful domestic film was Fridriksson's Devil's Island (Djoeflaeyjan), which attracted a total of 74,830 admissions in 1997.However, in terms of box office revenue, Angels still ha
  • Artcam acquires Wenders title at Film Days

    Czech distributor Artcam Prague acquired rights for the Czech Republic to Wim Wenders' Buena Vista Social Club at this year's European Film Days held March 9-19 in Prague and March 20-29 in Brno.Wenders' Road Sales and French sales outfit Roissy-Celluloid are selling the film. Meanwhile Czech distributor Sunfilm, which specialises in European fare, picked up Jeroen Krabbe's Left Luggage at the event. The film, about an orthodox Jewish family, stars Isabella Rossellini.
  • Asian veteran Sogabe leaves Columbia TriStar

    Kunikazu Sogabe has resigned from his post as vice president of FarEast/Asia for Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI)to pursue other interests in the Asian region.Sogabe, who was appointed to his current post in Feb 1998, has been withCTFDI for 23 years. He joined in 1977 as an international departmentmanagement trainee, was transferred to Columbia Pictures' Japan branchin 1979 as assistant manager and was elevated to the position ofmanaging
  • Beauty blossoms on Oscar buzz

    Zoolander led a formidable pack of films launching in the UK at the weekend, but Harry Potter and Spy Game remained the true box office winners.The latest comedy from Ben Stiller won the battle of the openers this week landing in second place with a respectable performance of $965,076 (£676,518) from 304 sites for distributor UIP. Stiller's first directorial outing since 1996's The Cable Guy, Zoolander managed a per site average of $3,175.Alth
  • Beineix, Anglade reteam for Mortel Transfer

    Arturo Ripstein's The Ruination Of Men (La Perdicion De Los Hombres) walked away with the Golden Shell award for best film at the 48th San Sebastian International film festival.Shot in black and white, the black comedy about two women who fight over the body of a dead lover also won the jury prize for best script and the Fipresci international film critics award. A Mexican-Spanish production, The Ruination Of Men was co-produced by Mexico's Gardenia Producciones and IMCIN
  • Best

    Dir: Mary McGuckian. UK. 2000. 95 mins.Prod cos: Pembridge Pictures in association with Sky Pictures and Isle of Man Film Commission. Int'l Sales: IAC Film & Television (+44 207 801 9080). Exec prods: McGuckian, John Lynch. Prods: McGuckian, Elvira Bolz, Chris Roff. Scr: McGuckian, Lynch. DoP: Witold Stok. Prod des: Max Gottlieb. Ed: Cant Pan. Music: Mark Stevens. Main cast: Lynch, Ian Bannen, Jerome Flynn, Linus Roach, Ian Hart, Patsy Kensit.A biopic of George Best, the
  • Bollywood film companies join IPO goldrush

    The Indian stock market is set to be hit by a tidal wave of IPOs launched by Bollywood production houses planning to finance expansion plans that range from distribution arms to dotcom start-ups and a digital studio in Mumbai.As many as 35 Hindi feature film production companies are seeking a listing on the Indian stock exchange in the next six months. The motivation for many is to take a competitive position in a market that is witnessing an explosion in satellite and broadband networ
  • Buenos Aires indie fest sparks arthouse revival

    Buenos Aires' international indie festival (April 6-16) is only in its second year but has already renewed local interest in arthouse films. Last year, more than 100 films at the festival were picked up for distribution in Argentina, led by local distributor, Pascual Condito, who acquired up to 30 titles. Working on a shoestring budget of $500,000, the festival showcases first or second-time film-makers, running competition sections for both features and shorts. Last year's event serve
  • Canal Plus joins Paramount on Travolta comedy

    Canal Plus Image, the film production and distribution affiliate of European media giant Canal Plus, has partnered with Paramount Pictures to co-produce and co-finance big budget comedy Numbers starring John Travolta.Paramount will handle distribution in North America and Asia with Canal Plus Image handling theatrical, video, pay and free television in all other countries. In Latin America, Paramount handles theatrical and video distribution and Canal+ Image retains pay and fre
  • Canal Plus pledges $5m to Polish production

    French pay-TV giant Canal Plus has earmarked almost $5m (20m Polish zloyts) to support Polish film production in 2000, making it Poland's second largest producer after local broadcaster TVP.Canal Plus has invested more than 61m zloyts in 35 Polish films as part its on-going financial support programme, launched when it entered the Polish pay-TV market in 1995. Last year the company invested 21m Polish zloyts in nine Polish films.Polish films co-produced by Canal Plus have racked
  • Chris Columbus to direct first Harry Potter film

    Chris Columbus has been chosen by Warner Bros. to direct the first of the Harry Potter book adaptations, closing the chapter on one of the most competitive Hollywood job contests in recent memory.Columbus, director of such commercially successful family films as Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, is expected to begin filming Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone this summer, on location in England. "It was important to us to find a director that has an af
  • Cinar reaches settlement with Bahamas companies

    Cinar Corp has halted its suit against three Bahamas companies after a deal was reached allowing the Canadian animation company to examine the assets of Globe-X Canadiana.Cinar filed a suit against Globe-X Canadiana and affiliates Globe-X Management and Norshield International for the recovery of the remaining $86m of a $122m sum it claims was invested without the approval of Cinar's board of directors. A portion of the money was placed in fixed short-term debt securities of Globe-X Ca
  • Crane World wins top honours at Toulouse

    Upwards of Euros500m of new loans will be made available to Europe's audiovisual industries under a new scheme launched Tuesday (Dec 19) by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB)."This financial package is intended to improve the competitivity of the industry and to favour the development of European audiovisual content," said Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for culture and education, at a press conference in Luxembourg.The scheme, baptised "i2i audiovis
  • Cuban Film Institute chief steps down from post

    Alfredo Guevara has quit his post as head of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), an organisation he founded shortly after Cuba's 1959 revolution, citing a desire to devote more time to international projects. A close friend of President Fidel Castro, Guevara was officially declared "released" from his responsibilities at the state-run entity. Guevara was known as a staunch supporter of Cuba's artists, even when they produced works that criticised Cuban society. The 1995 ICAIC-backed film
  • Daily takes up Universal Video marketing post

    Universal Pictures International Video (UPIV) has appointed Mary Daily to the post of president of marketing.Daily will be based in London and report to UPIV president Peter Smith. She will be responsible for all marketing activity on Universal, DreamWorks and third-party acquisitions video product.Daily joins UPIV from 20th Century Fox where she was vice president, marketing for Europe. Previous to this she was marketing director for Fox Video's UK division.
  • Deluxe backs Israeli film lab initiative

    Almost four years after Israel's only film laboratory was closed down, the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Commerce has given its blessing to the opening of a new facility. Adam Greenberg, a Hollywood cameraman of Israeli origin whose credits include the Terminator movies and Ghost, his scientist brother Jan Greenberg and film lab specialist Eyal Rosenfarb, have unveiled plans to open a state-of-the-art facility with the backing of international film lab Deluxe. T
  • Douglas, Dunaway to attend first Las Palmas fest

    The autonomous governments of Spain's Canary Islands and its capital Las Palmas have launched the International Film Festival of Las Palmas, Grand Canary Island. The first annual edition of the festival, which is co-sponsored by Canal Plus, will be held April 8-16.Kirk Douglas, Kristen Scott Thomas and Faye Dunaway are expected to be on hand to present their recent work in, respectively, John Mallory Asher's Diamonds, Phillip Haas's Up At The Villa and Marc Lazard's St
  • Downtown boosts slate with four US pick-ups

    UK distributor Downtown Pictures has picked up four US titles including Twin Falls Idaho, Barenaked In America, American Pimp and Luminous Motion.Downtown acquired Idaho from Moonstone Entertainment. The distributor has set the picture, made by brothers Mark and Michael Polish, for a September release. Barenaked and Pimp were acquired from Myriad Pictures and are to open in October and November respectively. Barenaked is a
  • DVD player sales soar in Japan

    Sales of DVD players soared to Y660m ($6.2m) in February 2000, a 55% increase on the same month last year, according to the Japan Electronic Retailers Association.March is also turning out to be a banner month, with retail industry giant Kojima reporting that DVD player sales have doubled in March compared to the same month last year. The Electronics Industries Association of Japan is estimating that sales of DVD players will grow to 800,000 units in 2000, compared with 390,000 units i
  • Election scoops top Spirit Awards

    Election, the dark high school comedy produced by MTV Films and distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures, won three top prizes at the IFP West Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon (March 25).The sweep echoed themes brought up by many winners and speakers at the event that the independent film-making world is in a period of dramatic change and that the independent "spirit" is more important than whether the films are financed from independent sources
  • EM.TV confirms Formula One deal

    Aggressive German merchandising and production empire EM.TV & Merchandising has confirmed that it has agreed with Bernie Ecclestone to acquire 100% of Speed Investment. The deal gives EM.TV a 50% stake in SLEC, the holding company which owns all Formula One motor racing activities.EM.TV paid $712.5m in cash and a stock component of about 10 million shares, which will be placed on behalf of the vendors of Speed. The company said it may acquire further shares in Formula One within the ne
  • EM.TV unveils plans for virtual market

    The violent, shocking or merely technically advanced have become such staples of top festival line-ups that it has become difficult to impress jaded critics and only slightly less cynical audiences.So it is that Venice has awaited with bated breath a selection of films by top names of today - and many tipped as tomorrow's best talents - and then exhaled again with a disappointed huff. At mid-point, the Venice festival has still yet to catch fire. Hot films are few and most deals are on
  • Erin Brockovich stays at top of US box

    Universal's Julia Roberts-starrer Erin Brockovich grossed $19m in its second weekend on general release to bring its ten-day total to $56.3m. Dropping about 32% from its opening, the Steven Soderbergh-directed film still scored a powerful screen average of $6,675.But coming close to dethroning the critically acclaimed Roberts hit was Warner Bros' action picture Romeo Must Die, a martial arts actioner set amongst two rival crime rings, one Chinese and one black, in Oakland
  • Filmax unveils Captain Thunder multimedia project

    Barcelona-based mini-studio, The Filmax Group, is finalising plans for its "most ambitious" project this year: a feature film and spin-off multimedia ventures based on popular Spanish cartoon character Capitan Trueno (Captain Thunder).Director Juanma Bajo Ulloa - whose last feature film, 1997's Airbag, became the highest grossing Spanish film ever in its day - is attached to direct.With a budget "above PTS1,000m" ($6.5m), far exceeding the Spanish average, producer Julio
  • Foxtel loses grip on Telstra network

    Australia's Seven Network has won its battle to gain access to Telstra's cable network, in a move that loosens cable operator Foxtel's existing dominance of the country's pay-TV market.Telstra owns 50% of Foxtel and 100% of the network which passes about one third of all Australian homes. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) decided last year that analogue platforms should be available to all comers, a decision made possible by legislation passed in 1997 which aime
  • Full List Of Oscar Winners

    72nd Annual Academy Awards: Full List of Winners(US and international distributor listed where appropriate)PictureAmerican Beauty (DreamWorks SKG/UIP)Bruce Cohen & Dan Jinks, producersDirectorSam Mendes, American Beauty (DreamWorks SKG/UIP)ActorKevin Spacey, American Beauty (DreamWorks SKG/UIP)ActressHilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry (Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox)Supp
  • Future Film picks up Beautiful Joe

    UK financier Future Film Group (FFG) has acquired UK rights to $20m romantic drama Beautiful Joe, starring Sharon Stone and Billy Connolly.UK distributor Metrodome Distribution will release the picture through its recently-formed joint venture with FFG, which has earmarked a $15m acquisitions fund for titles which Metrodome will release.FFG paid an advance for the UK distribution rights to the film, which Metrodome will release in the late summer. The film, which also sta
  • German pics break BBC drought

    Marking a break with the recent buying drought, the BBC is back in the market for German-language films. Digital channel BBC Knowledge is buying a package of six contemporary German films which it intends to screen from May.In a deal brokered by Iris Kehr, UK representative of the German Federal Film Board and Export Union of German Cinema, the BBC has bought Tom Tykwer's Winter Sleeper (Winterschlaefer) and Life Is All You Get (Das Leben Ist Ein Baustelle), both from Bav
  • Germany's 4Kids jumps on flotation bandwagon

    NASDAQ-listed US children's entertainment outfit 4Kids Entertainment is floating on the German stock exchange as part of a dual listing. The New York-based vertically-integrated concern was prompted to go public in Germany by the "extraordinary success" of its children's animation series Pokemon in the territory. The programme, which is aired in Germany by RTL2, reaches between 60%-70% of 3-13 year-old TV viewers in its daily afternoon slot.4Kids is the fifth company in t
  • Greece's OTE, ERT plan digital platform

    Greek telco OTE plans to launch a digital satellite platform in partnership with public broadcaster ERT and private broadcaster and media concern Alpha Digital. The venture, which calls for an investment of $286m (DR100bn), will be Greece's second digital satellite platform following the early January launch of Multichoice's Nova bouquet. Partners in the Multichoice platform include television services provider, Netmed Hellas, part of the Nethold group, Greek media company Tyletipos an
  • Hofer set to quit Babelsberg

    Germany's Studio Babelsberg has been rocked by the news that a second executive - Arthur Hofer - is to exit the production centre near Berlin, following the departure of studio boss Friedrich-Carl Wachs at the end of February (Screendaily February 14).Hofer, who moved Babelsberg from Munich's Bavaria Studios in 1997, told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel that he wished to dissolve his contract "at the next possible date". He added that his decision was "closely linked" to th
  • House!

    Dir: Julian Kemp. UK. 1999. 90 mins.Prod co: Wire Films. Int'l sales: Victor Film Co (+44 207 494 4477). Prod: Michael Kelk. Exec prods: Christopher Figg, Adam Sutcliffe. Co-prod: David Ball. Scr: Jason Sutton based on an idea by Eric Styles. DoP: Kjell Vassdal. Prod des: Kit Line. Ed: Jonathan Rudd. Mus: David Alldridge, Craig Blake-Jones. Main cast: Kelly Macdonald, Jason Hughes, Freddie Jones, Miriam Margoyles.Sweet-natured and sincere, House! is yet another att
  • Intermedia to float on German stock exchange

    Intermedia, one of Europe's most powerful film companies, is planning to float on the German stock exchange before the end of the year, following the conclusion of its merger with Los Angeles-based Pacifica.Intermedia is forming a Munich-based holding company - Intermedia AG - to facilitate the IPO. The London-based company announced in January that it would merge with Pacifica (Screendaily January 27), a production and financing entity backed by German tax money through the Int
  • Intertainment sells eight to Italy

    German rights broker Intertainment has sold eight films to Italy and unveiled the beginnings of a long-term relationship with Silvio Berlusconi's film and TV group Mediaset.Mediaset is paying $20m for free-TV rights to six high-profile films - Battlefield Earth, Art Of War, Get Carter, The Pledge, The Whole Shebang and Angel Eyes. Intertainment struck a separate deal for free-TV rights to two other titles - Three Thousand Miles To Graceland
  • Intractor appointed Imax Enterprises president

    Imax Corporation has appointed Richard Intrator to the newly created position of president, Imax Enterprises and executive vice president, Imax Ltd. New York-based Imax Ltd handles the administrative side of the giant-screen company's business. Imax Enterprises, a new subsidiary, will be devoted to new business development. Intractor was most recently managing director and group head of PaineWebber's media investment banking unit. A 20-year investment banking veteran, he has h
  • Israeli cable operators agree to share with Yes

    Israel's cable operators have caved in to government pressure and agreed to share programming with start-up digital satellite franchise holder Yes.Yes previously told Israel's ministry of communications that it would return its franchise unless the country's cable operators were forced to share their programming with the new outfit. The cable operators have bowed to pressure and agreed to give Yes access to their programming in exchange for the right to continue operating their joint a
  • Jean Prewitt appointed president of AFMA

    Jean M Prewitt has been named president of the American Film Marketing Association (AFMA), the LA-based organisation which represents the independent film industry in the same way the MPAA relates to the major studios. AFMA has 180 member companies.Prewitt was previously a principal with, a Washington-based lobbying and public relations firm. Prior to that she held positions as an official for US Department of Commerce and a senior vice president of United International Pi
  • Joffe's Vatel to open Cannes

    Roland Joffe's $29m (FFr199m) historical epic Vatel, produced by Gaumont and starring Gerard Depardieu, Uma Thurman and Tim Roth, will open this year's Cannes Film Festival on May 10. As is usual with the opening night film, Vatel will screen out of competition. French actress Virginie Ledoyen, who starred in The Beach alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, will host the opening ceremony.Three further French period pieces - Olivier Assayas' $10m (FFr70m) Les Destin
  • Junkersdorf slams Germany's proposed media law

    Producer Eberhard Junkersdorf, chairman of the German Federal Film Board (FFA)'s administrative council, has lashed out at German finance minister Hans Eichel for his planned revisions to legislation governing private media funds in Germany.Speaking in Berlin at an event where the FFA distributed almost $12.7m (DM25.4m) of retroactive support to German producers and distributors, Junkersdorf claimed that the planned "media decree" being drafted by Eichel's ministry to regulate private
  • Kinowelt posts 159% increase in pre-tax profit

    Kinowelt, the fast expanding distribution and production group, underlined its growing strength by reporting a 159% increase in pre-tax profit, from $9.9m (DM20.1m) in 1998 to $25.6m (DM52m) in 1999.Turnover climbed 76% from $103m (DM210m) to $182m (DM370m) over the same period. Operating margins widened from 10% to 14%. The company is due to report post-tax profit in May.Kinowelt finance director Eduard Unzeitig attributed the growth to film distribution, home entertainment and
  • Kinowelt takes flight with Entertainment takeover

    Kinowelt, Germany's fast growing mini-major, claims to have become the world leader in in-flight entertainment after completing the take-over of in-flight content provider Entertainment Concepts.The Los Angeles-based Entertainment Concepts will be merged with Kinowelt's existing in-flight company Atlas Air Film + Media Service, which supplies movies and other programming for 15 airlines including Northwest Airlines, Emirates, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines. The deal is expected
  • Kodak, Atlab restore Australian cinema classics

    Miramax Films, Miramax Television, HBO and Good Will Hunting writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are teaming up to launch a US contest in which a total unknown writer will have his or her screenplay greenlit.Starting in the summer, anyone in the US can submit a screenplay electronically to The winner will be paid by Miramax to direct the feature film; Damon, Affleck and Chris Moore (co-producer of Good Will Hunting) will executive produce the fi
  • Lagardere profits down but media boosts sales

    French media and aerospace group Lagardere has reported a 13.9% decrease in profits during the 1999 financial year to $235m (FFr1.58bn), compared to $268m (FFr1.8bn) in 1998. However revenue was up 14.9% over the same period to $12bn (FFr80.5bn), from $11.8bn (FFr79.1bn) in 1998, with the growth mostly attributed to media operations.Earnings from Lagardere Medias (books, press and distribution, multimedia services, television and radio operations) jumped 20% in 1999 on a 16% turnover i
  • London Film Commission forced to downsize

    The cash-strapped London Film Commission (LFC) is planning to slash back staffing levels from 14 to 4 members of staff in a bid to survive, a spokesperson confirmed this week.Unless a last-minute backer emerges, the LFC will continue as a dramatically scaled-down operation supported by £150,000 a year from the government's film super body, the Film Council.The LFC was previously funded by the government and a raft of private backers such as United International Pictures on a sho
  • Lyall named VP, Universal TV Australia

    Martin Lyall has been appointed vice president, Australasia, at Universal International Television.In his new role, Lyall will be responsible for the distribution of Universal's programming in Australia, New Zealand and selected territories in Asia, including Japan. He will be based in Sydney, Australia.Lyall replaces Pal Cleary who is retiring in April after 23 years with Universal. Lyall joins Universal from Australian retail entertainment and marketing company The Leading Edg
  • MGM takes legal action against Cecchi Gori

    MGM is taking Italian film and TV giant Cecchi Gori Communications to court over non-payment on an output deal covering 200 films and television programmes currently being broadcast on Cecchi Gori-owned TV channel TeleMonteCarlo (TMC).MGM is claiming that it is still owed $10m (L20bn) from a $20m (L40bn) deal with Cecchi Gori, according to Italian press reports. The Italian company had obtained a $233m (L470bn) loan from US bank Merrill Lynch for film and TV programming acquisitions be
  • M-Net strikes output deal with Columbia TriStar

    Africa's leading pay-TV broadcaster, M-Net, has renewed its long-term, exclusive output deal with Columbia TriStar International Television (CTIT) giving it access to titles such as The Mask of Zorro, Stepmom and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.M-Net has distribution in 42 countries on the African continent, including South Africa. The channel also has exclusive output deals with Disney, 20th Century Fox, MGM, MCA/Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros and Dreamwork
  • Naumann cuts Export Union funding

    The German Film Export Union's efforts to promote German cinema abroad have been dealt a blow by the decision of federal culture minister Michael Naumann to cut its financial support by $104,500 (DM215,000) this year.The Munich-based promotion agency said in press release that the reduction in the culture ministry's contribution to its $2m (DM4m) budget could result in the cancellation of one its annual festivals of German cinema this year. The Export Union organises festivals in Madri
  • Nina selected to open Chicago Latino fest

    The Girl of Your Dreams (La Nina De Tus Ojos), directed by Oscar-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba, will kick off the 16th Chicago Latino Film Festival which runs from March 31 to April 12. Apart from screening more than 100 films from Latin America, Portugal, Spain and the US, the festival will introduce a new segment that features one visiting country - Italy this year - to present a selection of films. Other sidebars include Noche Mexicana with the US debut of c
  • Odeon, Warner Village link up with BFI

    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 the development 'envelope' (Euros350m). Of the Euros350m, at least 20
  • Oliver Stone to chair Cognac jury

    Oliver Stone - whose latest title, Any Given Sunday, opens in France on April 12 - will chair the jury of the 18th Festival of Cognac (April 6-9), which focuses on thrillers and crime stories. Stone was involved, through his production company Illusion Entertainment, in 1997 Cognac grand prize-winner Freeway, directed by Matthew Bright, for which Reese Witherspoon also received the best actress award.John Frankenheimer's Ben Affleck-starrer Reindeer Games wi
  • Oracle, 2M throw weight behind Zentropa channel

    Danish production outfit Zentropa has revealed that US database software firm Oracle and Danish venture capital outfit 2M Invest are backing its proposed English-language Internet channel, (Screendaily March 23). Oracle is understood to be investing $650,000 (DKr5m) in the digital platform supporting Zentropa's on-line activities, while 2M Invest has granted the company a loan which can be converted into shares, should the channel become profitable.The proposed
  • Otto 5 opens at top of German box office chart

    Germany has spawned another locally-produced hit as the Tobis release of comedy Otto - Der Katastrofenfilm opened at the top of the German box office chart last weekend. Attracting 368,214 admissions from a huge 820 screens, the film's four-day gross came to almost $2m.This latest Otto film, starring well-known stand-up comedian Otto Waalkes, is the fifth in the franchise produced by Rialto Film. The last Otto film was released in 1992 and attracted more than 2 mil
  • Packer, Sahara to form Indian joint venture

    Kerry Packer is trailing Rupert Murdoch's footsteps in India where he is negotiating to launch an international sports and events channels with Subrata Roy's Sahara Group.Packer arrived in India on Monday (March 27) for a three-day visit during which he announced his intention to invest $200m in television and entertainment start-ups. These will include a sports and events channel - in partnership with Sahara Group and as-yet-unnamed partners from Pakistan and Sri Lanka - which
  • Paramount promotes Brooker, Bealing

    Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) UK has promoted Richard Brooker to the position of sales director, responsible for rental and retail sales. Brooker was formerly rental sales director for the companyPHE, previously CIC Video, was formed at the beginning of this year after Paramount's partner in CIC - Universal Pictures - set up it's own video distribution operation, Universal Pictures Video. PHE has also appointed David Bealing to the position of marketing director. Bealing was forme
  • Pay-Per-View Japan gets greenlight from MPT

    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has approved an application from PPV operator Pay-Per-View Japan to launch two channels specialising in foreign movies and sports.In its latest licensing round, the MPT greenlit 15 companies planning to launch 18 satellite channels in the Japanese market. The regulatory body started to take applications to fill the gap left by a succession of broadcasters going off the air.Other successful applicants are Nihon Eiga Satellite
  • Planeta 2010 makes first theatrical acquisition

    Planeta 2010, the start-up multimedia division of publishing company Grupo Planeta, has acquired all rights to its first feature film, the Italian animation La Gabbianella E Il Gatto.The division picked up theatrical, video, pay-TV and free-TV rights to the film, which was produced by Italy's Cecchi Gori Group and successfully released in other European territories. Merchandising rights are still under negotiation.Planeta 2010 was launched last year to house all of the pu
  • Portugal's SIC buys controlling stake in CNL

    Portuguese private broadcaster SIC has bought a 60% stake in pay-TV news channel Canal de Noticias de Lisboa (CNL) from telco Portugal Telecom subsidiary PT Multimedia. The channel is carried by pay-TV operator TV Cabo.The deal marks SIC's first move into the production of thematic channels. Last year SIC launched subsidiary SIC Filmes with backing from the national film institute, ICAM, to produce ten made-for-television movies per year.SIC plans to produce two other thematic c
  • Quebec duo launch $4bn counter-bid for Videotron

    The gloves truly came off this weekend in the high-stakes battle for Canadian media domination.Just as shareholders in the Quebec-based cable company Groupe Videotron were preparing to vote on a proposed C$5.6bn ($3.8bn) takeover by the nation's largest cable operator, a rival hostile bid was suddenly tabled that only complicated the local cable landscape even further.Montreal-based media behemoth Quebecor and one of Videotron's principal shareholders, pension fund manager Caiss
  • Relativity, Mosfilm team up for Moscow-set comedy

    US production company Relativity Pictures and Russia's Mosfilm and Studio Ritm are co-producing comedy Red Squares, which is shooting in Moscow until the end of April when it moves to New York for a second leg in June and July.The production is set against the backdrop of central Moscow and familiar locations such as the Bolshoi Theatre and Red Square. The story revolves around an American who is sent to Russia to track down a local girl accused of conning the Italian mafia.
  • Rogers, Shaw unite against BCE

    In a case of "my enemy's enemy is my friend", Canada's two rival cable providers have cut a $2.7bn (C$4bn) deal, swapping cable assets and merging their high-speed Internet access services, to prepare for battle against the nation's principal telco, BCE. The swap sees both companies consolidating their territorial fortresses. Toronto-based Rogers, whose customers are concentrated in Ontario and Eastern Canada, will sell its cable business in Western Canada to Calgary-based Shaw, whose
  • SPAA calls for higher funding levels

    The Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) is calling on the Australian government to lift production and development funding in film and television to "more realistic investment levels" in the 2000/2001 budget, which will be released in early May. However Australian arts minister Peter McGauran admitted today (March 24) that the federal budget is under particular pressure this year because of Australia's commitment to East Timor and the need to balance the nation's books.
  • Splendid profits surge on back of library titles

    German rights trader Splendid Medien improved its profits last year thanks to the performance of its library and video titles.Gross earnings (EBITDA) rose 43% from $9.9m (DM19.8m) to $14.1m (DM28.3m) in 1999, while operating profits soared from $1.8m (DM3.6m) to $5.1m (DM10.3m). Net profits after tax and the $4.6m (DM9.3m) one-off costs of an initial stockmarket listing, were $0.6m (DM1.2m)."We have far exceeded the budgeted figures which we announced at the time of our IPO," sa
  • Star forms alliance with India's UTV

    Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV is taking a 12% stake in Indian broadcaster United Television (UTV), and has formed a strategic alliance with the company to jointly produce content intended for movie theatres, the Internet and TV.Under the terms of the deal, UTV and Star's Indian subsidiary, Star TV India, will produce Hindi-language features for distribution both in India and overseas. The partners will also produce content for UTV's Singapore-based broadband venture -
  • Sverak to follow Kolya with Dark Blue World

    Czech director Jan Sverak is gearing up to shoot World War II drama Dark Blue World (Tmavomodry Svet), his first film since 1996 foreign-language Oscar-winner Kolya.The $6m film, which cranks up next week, is about Czech pilots in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII. The script was written by Jan Sverak's father Zdenek who will also play a cameo role as an Indian pilot in the RAF. The film's cast is headed by Ondrej Vetchy, British actress Tara Fitzgerald and Ger
  • Szabo, Leigh headed for Kerala fest

    The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) has attracted several top film-makers to this year's event, including Istvan Szabo, Mike Leigh, Miklos Jancso and Marco Muller.The festival, to take place from March 31- April 7, has also been granted recognition by the Paris-based International Federation of Film Producers' Associations (FIAPF), the regulatory body for film festivals worldwide. The Kerala festival will feature a competition section for Asian, Latin American and A
  • Telefonica in talks for Latin American buys

    Spanish telecoms and multimedia giant Telefonica is understood to be making another aggressive step into the Latin American market by acquiring a stake in Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca, according to Spanish press reports.According to one report, Telefonica's media subsidiary, Telefonica Media, is also negotiating the buy-out of Peruvian cable operator Cablemagica. Another report suggests Telefonica is in talks to buy out Internet portal StarMedia, one of Telefonica subsidiary Terra's t
  • Telefonica reportedly in talks to buy Lycos stake

    Spanish telecommunications and media giant Telefonica continues to make news this week in Spain, most recently with speculation that the company is negotiating a stake in US Internet portal Lycos.Spanish newspapers reported yesterday that Telefonica was in similar negotiations with Latin American web portal StarMedia. Both Lycos and StarMedia compete for clients in the Americas against Telefonica subsidiary Terra Networks. Sources at Telefonica declined to comment on either possibility
  • The Crossing

    Dir: Higashi Yoichi. Japan. 2000. 116 mins.Prod co: Siglo Ltd. Int'l sales: Brussels Ave (+32 2 511 9156). Prods: Yamagami Tetsujiro, Sho Koshiro. Scr: Higashi Yoichi. DoP: Tsutai Takahiro. Art dir: Itoh Akoi. Main cast: Tsutsui Michikata, Hoyosamada Takahito, Tsumiki Miho. The Crossing is another fascinating inter-generational story similar to Takeshi Kitano's 1999 Cannes-prize winner Kikujiro. It is the concluding part of director Higashi Yoichi's "boy and
  • Till takes on strategy role for Redbus

    Stewart Till, former president of Universal Pictures International (UPI), has joined the board of directors at fast-moving UK film-to-Internet operation Redbus Film Group (RFG).Till, who also oversaw PolyGram Filmed Entertainment's (PFE's) international operation, will serve in a part-time but executive role. Before PFE, Till worked at CBS Fox Video and UK broadcaster Sky. He also currently serves as vice-chair on the government's newly-created film super body The Film Council.R
  • Toho joins Japanese satellite film channel venture

    Japanese studio Toho is boarding Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting (NESB), a joint venture launched in February by News Corp, Sony, Fuji TV and Softbank, to broadcast two satellite channels specialising in Japanese films and TV programming (Screendaily February 15). Toho will take a 20% share in NESB along with the four existing partners who also hold 20% stakes. NESB's total paid-in capital will rise to Y500m ($4.67m) following the deal. With one seat on NESB's board of
  • TPS unveils plans to launch TV e-mail

    French digital satellite platform TPS, a rival to Canal Plus' CanalSatellite operation, has unveiled plans to provide Internet access and other digital services through television sets before the end of the year.TPS - which has 880,000 subscribers compared to CanalSatellites' 1.5 million - plans to offer e-mail services, called TV-mail, which enable viewers to send and receive messages between TV sets, computers and telephones. The move is seen as a response to Canal Plus' plans to int
  • TVA in talks to acquire Montreal's Motion

    Quebec-based broadcaster TVA is in takeover talks with Montreal production and distribution company Motion International. If it goes ahead, the $85m (C$125m) union would create Canada's second largest production company after Alliance Atlantis Communications. TVA, a subsidiary of cable operator Group Videotron before that company was taken over by Rogers Communications, is on the look-out for content creators and libraries. A takeover of Motion would continue the trend amongst C
  • United Artists takes int'l rights to Songcatcher

    United Artists Films (UAF) has acquired international rights to Maggie Greenwald's Songcatcher, which won the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Performance at this year's Sundance Film Festival.Songcatcher, which stars Oscar nominee Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn, is produced by ErgoArts in association with the Independent Film Channel (IFP). The deal marks the second IFP-backed picture that UAF has picked up from this year's crop of Sundance titles, following Kar
  • US, Canadian producers agree BC labour pact

    Three years of harmony is assured in Canada's west coast film production sector as producer representatives from the US and Canada ratified a collective agreement with the British Columbia Council of Film Unions. The agreement provides a 3.5% salary increase in the first year followed by 3% increases in the second and third. Party to the contract were the three Council member unions - Motion Picture Studio Production Technicians IATSE Local 891, Teamsters Union Local No. 155 and Intern
  • VCL takes 25% stake in next two Terminator films

    Germany's VCL Film+Medien is to take a 25% stake in the next two Terminator films being produced by Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna's C2 Productions and Japan's Toho Towa.VCL, which went public last year, will get a 25% share of world revenues in all media and an option on the rights in German-speaking territories, in return for a further percentage of the budget. "They are getting slightly better terms, because they are coming in early, but this is a deal which works for eve
  • Warner Japan wins Government Trade Award

    Warner Bros Pictures Distribution, Japan, will receive Japan's Ministerof International Trade and Industry Award for Best Motion PictureImporter/Distributor of the Year in a ceremony to take place in Tokyo onApril 21. William Ireton, managing director, Warner Bros PicturesDistribution Japan, will accept the award on behalf of Warner Bros.The award is given for marketing excellence and innovation, and for acompany's contribution to the development of the Japanese fi
  • Wonder Boys

    Dir: Curtis Hanson. US. 2000. 112 mins.Prod cos: Scott Rudin Productions, Mutual Film Co. US dist: Paramount Pictures. Int'l sales: Mutual Film International (+1 323 871 5690). Prods: Scott Rudin, Curtis Hanson. Exec prods: Adam Schroeder, Ned Dowd. Scr: Steve Kloves, based on the novel by Michael Chabon. DoP: Dante Spinotti. Prod des: Jeannine Oppewall. Ed: Dede Allen. Mus: Christopher Young. Main cast: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr, Katie Holm
  • Yes inks VoD supply deal with u-direct

    Yes Television, the UK's pioneering video-on-demand (VoD) group, has signed its second content supply deal within a week of announcing plans to float on the stockmarket (Screendaily, Mar 21).Yes has inked a deal with Digital Broadcasting Co (DBC), which trades as u-direct films, to create a u-direct channel on Yes' VoD platform. Significantly the move also enables DBC to offer VoD in addition to the existing pay-per-view (PPV) service which it has operated on BSkyB's digital pla