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30 March 2003

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  • Altavista/NuVision scales down production, distribution

    Hard times and a string of box office disappointments has led topMexican production house Altavista Films (producer of Amores Perros) and sister regional distributioncompany NuVision to streamline operations. CEO Monica Lozano who reports toFederico Gonzalez Compean, the head of their paren
  • Argentina wins big at Fribourg

    Argentinian cinema was the big winner at this year's Fribourg International Film Festival which closed on Sunday March 23 with the $21,500 (SFR 30,000) Regard D'Or going to Carlos Sorin's Historias Minimas.In addition, the Special Jury Award went to Luis Ortega's feature debut Caja Negra and the General Public Award to Lugares Communes by Adolfo Aristarain.Meanwhile, the Documentary Award, sponsored jointly by daily newspaper La Liberte and broadcaster TSR,
  • Asian Pictures Int'l announces first Bollywood projects

    London-based Asian Pictures International has announced its first Bollywood productions.Producer Sevy Ali told, "the trend in Bollywood is to make international quality co-productions and we are already working with Troika Productions of Mumbai for our first two films". The first film, titled White Noise is to be directed by Vinta Nanda and scripted by Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt and is to start shooting in May. White Noise, is an English-lang
  • Austrian, Slovenian industries get together at Diagonale fest

    Austrian filmmakers will meet their counterparts from neighbouring Slovenia for the first time, at an industry get-together on March 28 during the Diagonale - Festival of Austrian Cinema, which started yesterday.While representatives from the Austrian Film Instiute (OFI), Slovenian Film Fund and broadcasters ORF and RTV-Slovenija will discuss the policy measures needed for cross-border cooperation, officials from the Vienna Film Fund, Location Austria, Slovenia's Ministry for Culture
  • Bavarian film fund to sign accord with Quebec film body

    Bavaria's regional film fund FFF Bayern is to sign a Film Agreement with Quebec's Societe de Developpement des Entreprises Culturelles (SODEC) during a Bavarian Arts and Business Week in Montreal in mid-May.'There has been a collaboration with Quebec for some time', FFF Bayern spokesman Lothar Just said. "We had a delegation of Munich producers going to Montreal, and another one of Canadian producers came to Munich last autumn. We have been exploring the potential for making co-produc
  • Beta sells Manitou's Shoe to Japan

    German film and TV sales player Beta Film used MIP-TV to complete another deal on its hit comedy Manitou's Shoe (Der Schuh Des Manitou). The film was sold in an all rights deal to SPO for Japan.'We tend not to sell our films in package deals and instead handle and support each as an individual property. Having struck the deal with SPO, we will now help them secure the Japanese TV sales that they want,' said Jens Richter, Beta's managing director. 'As part of a large company we h
  • Blockbuster faces Canadian lawsuit over late fees

    Dallas-basedvideo rentailer Blockbuster may be facing a class-action suit in Quebec overits late fee policies after a judge granted class status to a group ofBlockbuster customers in the province.
  • Bringing Down The House is top for third weekend

    With the televised war and a lack of major openers creating the lowest domestic box office in two months, Buena Vista's Bringing Down the House held on to top spot for the third successive weekend, grossing an estimated $16.2m for an $83.4m running total.The comedy has traded strongly on its feel-good appeal during troubled times and is expected to finish in the $120m-$130m range. It was a close race for number one, however, as Warner Bros/Castle Rock's horror picture Dreamca
  • BVI opens The Recruit at number one in Spain

    Buena Vista International's TheRecruit grossed $3m at theinternational box office over the weekend for a $6.5m international runningtotal.Opening number one in Spain,the spy thriller grossed $1m on 229 screens. Opening in China, ittook $400,000 on 180 screens and was the top grossing US picture of theweekend. The Mexican bow yielded $870,000 from 265 screens.In its second weekend inKorea, The Recruit fell 38% for$291,000, raising its nine-day total to $1.2m.
  • BVITV strikes MIP-TV deals

    Buena Vista International Television (BVITV), the film and TV sales arm of Disney, struck a number of film deals in small territories during this week's MIP-TV market in Cannes. With PoPTV, the largest commercial broadcaster in Slovenia, it agreed to supply films including Gone In 60 Seconds, Armageddon, TV movies including Moms On Strike and Casper A Spirited Beginning. Series covered by the agreement included Alias, Scrubs and Eight Simple Rules
  • Cape Town film permit office suspends staff

    South Africa's Cape Town city council's film permit office has been closed until further notice after six staff members were suspended pending an internal investigation into alleged irregularities in the issuing of film permits. City of Cape Town spokesperson Charles Cooper said in a statement that the Cape Film Commission, jointly financed by the Western Cape Provincial Government and the City, had immediately taken over the responsibility to issue film permits to ensure an uninterrup
  • Chicago's best picture, but The Pianist wins director, actor

    Chicago was named best picture at the Academy Awards ceremony last night in Hollywood but Roman Polanski's The Pianist almost pipped it to the post, winning in best director, actor and adapted screenplay categories. It was a surprising turn of events, with the holocaust drama upsetting a long-anticipated sweep for frontrunner Chicago. The hit musical took a total of six awards - another triumph for producer/financier Miramax Films - and it looked like it would be d
  • Civilian Content snaps up BBC stake in The Works

    Civilian Content, the UK media group and parent of National Lottery franchise The Film Consortium, has acquired full ownership of sales house The Works, buying the last 25% minority stake from BBC Worldwide to make it a wholly owned subsidiary of the group.AIM-listed Civilian Content has also announced a significant turnaround in its trading results, with both The Film Consortium (TFC) and The Works delivering profits in 2002. The group posted a profit of £108,000 for the first time, a
  • Cognac Film Festival unveils lineup, opens with Pamela Rose

    TheCognac Festival du Film Policier has released its line-up for the 21st editionset to take place April 10-13. The festival is devoted to the 'policier' ordetective/crime genre and this year will see French actor Vincent Lindon headup the main jury.
  • Col TriStar takes another $6.1m with Revolution's Maid

    Columbia TriStar/Revolution's Maid In Manhattan grossed an estimated $6.1m on 2,850 screens over the weekend, raising its international tally so far to $33.4m.Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) opened the romantic comedy strongly in Thailand, where it went to number one on $205,000 from 34 screens. In another impressive bow the picture grossed $340,000 (10.7m local currency) from 82 screens in Russia.Studio executives expect a close number one finish
  • Dans Ma Peau gets into the US via Wellspring

    New York-based independentWellspring has acquired US rights to Dans Ma Peau, the controversial directorial debut of Marina deVan which world premiered at last year's San Sebastian Film Festival.De Van, who co-wrote 8Women and Under The Sand with Francois Ozon and starred in his films Sitcom and See The Sea, also stars in the film about a happy and successful young PR assistantwho becomes obsessed with her own body after falling and gashing her leg at
  • Das Werk sold to German production outfit

    Huerth-based production outfit Media Select has acquired the core activities of the insolvent Das Werk postproduction group, in the face of stiff competition from a number of rival bidders from Germany, Europe and the USA. According to an official statement, the new owner plans to run Das Werk's regional operations in Hamburg, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich and Frankfurt-based Zweigwerk largely unaltered under the brand name of "Pictorion Das Werk".Media Select's managing sha
  • Documentaries dominate Guadalajara awards

    Documentaries swept the awards at the18th Guadalajara Mexican Film Showcase which ended March 27th, reflecting the sorry state of fiction feature filmmaking in Mexico last year.Best Picture winners (ex aqueo) Marcela Arteaga's Recuerdos and Mercedes Moncada's La Pasion De Maria Elena split a cash prize of $9,300 (100,000 pesos). Coincidentally, both documentary directors are female. This is the second year running that a documentary has nabbed the best picture pr
  • Dreamcatcher

    Dir: Lawrence Kasdan. US. 2003. 134mins. Castle Rock's latest big-screen take on the work of author Stephen King starts out with a spooky psychological intensity that recalls some of the company's most successful King adaptations, like Misery and The Green Mile. Before long, however, Dreamcatcher degenerates into a confusing horror/sci-fi muddle that will test the attentions of most viewers who have not read the King novel, and of quite a few who have. Ki
  • DVD comes to the rescue

    With TV markets seemingly as off-colour as the independent film sector, producers and broadcasters are increasingly turning to the fast-rising DVD sector for new revenue and profits."The success story of 2002 was video, not video-on-demand," said Gilles Fontaine, head of media market researcher IDATE. "Home video in Europe last year was worth Euros 12.4bn". At a seminar at the MIP-TV programmes market speakers queued up to describe DVD as the new TV gold mine. Jean Paul-C
  • DVD market overtaking VHS

    Representing more than 50% of total European video sales, 2002's European DVD sales are estimated to be 20% ahead of 2001 at some Euros 11bn, according to the International Video Federation.In addition, the number of DVD players doubled last year, going from 13.5 million in 2001 to approximately 28 million in 2002.Charlotte Lund Thomsen, director general of the IVF said "So far feature films have represented the biggest part of the European video market, even more so for VHS tha
  • Escapist viewing benefits from war fatigue

    While there appeared to be some evidence in the US that the war on Iraq affected box office figures last weekend, the effect in Europe seems more on viewing choices rather than numbers.Indeed, athough many territories saw a drop in returns this weekend from last weekend, others including Denmark, Finland, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland bucked the trend and saw increased box office. However whether rising or falling, box office success this week seemed tied into more escapist fare such
  • Fanfan La Tulipe to open this year's Cannes Film Festival

    The Cannes Film Festivalhas set Fanfan La Tulipeas the opening film for this year's event. The film is a remake ofChristian-Jaque's 1952 swashbuckler.Directed by Gerard Krawczykwho has enjoyed immense success with the last two Taxi films, Fanfan stars Vincent Perez and PenelopeCruz. The film will be released in France on May 14, the same day it willopen the Cannes fest out of competition.Produced by Luc Besson'sEuropa Corp, Besson also co-wrote the script with Jean
  • Far From Heaven sweeps Spirits, but war is top topic

    Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven swept the board at the IFP Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday in Santa Monica, winning all five of its five nominated categories including best feature, best director for Haynes and best actress for Julianne Moore. It was the first ever Spirit win for the film's producer Christine Vachon, considered an architect of new independent cinema since her early 90s credits such as Haynes' Poison and Tom Kalin's Swoon.But the Spirits show was
  • Foreign-language Oscar contenders could be the biggest winners

    Recognition for this year's best foreign-language Oscar contenders will help increase market share for indigenous films and boost government support for local industries. That, at least, was the hope expressed by makers of three of the nominated foreign-language films at a packed public symposium in Los Angeles on the eve of the Academy Awards. At the same time, however, two of the three film-makers at the pre-Oscar event indicated that their next films will be shot in English r
  • Fox pulls in $11.3m over the weekend with Daredevil

    Fox's Daredevil grossed $11.3m over the weekend, setting a couple ofrecords along the way and raising its international cumulative score to $36.3m.Leading off a raft of mostlynumber one openings, the comic book adaptation grossed $1.9m on 304 screens inAustralia for the second biggest industry March opening ever. It took $2.8m on579 screens in France, where local language hit Chou Chou held top spot, while Germany yielded $1.9m on 802screens for a seco
  • France revs up fighter pilot adaptation

    Continuing the trend towards comic book adaptations in France, Tanguy And Laverdure will be next to get the big-screen treatment. The tale of two fighter pilots is set to be directed by Gerard Pires, who previously directed the first Taxi film and made last year's Riders. Pires is also a pilot himself.The original comics were created in the 1960s by Michel Charlier and Albert Uderzo. The film's script will be written by Gilles Malancon who recently worked wi
  • France's Springtime Of Film programme records 2.5m admissions

    France's exhibition federation, the FNCF, has announced that 2.5 million tickets were sold during its recent Springtime of Film programme. The event, a three-day promotion where admission is slashed to Euros 3 - less than half normal price - in 5,500 cinemas across the country, is four years old. 2003 marks the best showing since the program was launched.Last year's edition registered 2.1 million tickets, meaning a 17% increase for 2003. The news is good, especially given that box-offi

    Best picture Chicago (Miramax Films) Martin Richards, producerBest director Roman Polanski The PianistBest actor Adrien Brody The PianistBest actress Nicole Kidman The HoursBest supporting actor Chris Cooper AdaptationBest supporting actress Catherine Zeta-Jones ChicagoBest original screenplay Pedro Almodovar Talk To HerBest adapted screenplay Ronald Harwood The PianistBest foreign
  • German media lawyers propose adoption of UK's sale & leaseback model

    The UK's sale & leaseback model and Canada's tax credit model are two options proposed by the German producer pressure group Film 20 to Gerhard Schroeder's administration to improve the international competitiveness of the German film industry.The proposals are among a series of recommendations drafted by a legal "think tank" of five leading German media law practices on behalf of Film 20, which will be unveiled this week in a 50-page memorandum entitled "Pro Producer - Pro Film Indust
  • Global ticket prices keeping ahead of inflation

    Ticket prices are rising faster than inflation in most of the major cinema markets around the world - with the notable exception of Japan.Japan still has the most expensive tickets in the world, with an average price of Euros 9.48 ($10.47). However, prices have been either stagnant or falling for the past five years, in line with the deflationary pressures on the Japanese economy as a whole. Japanese ticket prices fell 0.2% in 2002.In contrast, ticket prices have been rising ahe
  • Harry passes $600m for Warner, local hits flourish

    Warner Bros' Harry PotterAnd The Chamber Of Secrets hasbecome only the third picture in history to pass $600m at the international boxoffice.The family sequel, based onJ K Rowling's best-selling book series, has conjured up an estimated $604m. Thetwo biggest international pictures are Titanic ($1.2bn, Fox 1997) and Harry Potter And ThePhilosopher's Stone ($648.2m, WarnerBros 2001).Warner also had a greatweekend in local markets. The German-language comedy
  • Hong Kong distributor moves into production finance

    Hong Kong distributor Panorama Entertainment has unveiled plans to co-finance up to five Chinese-language movies this year, starting with comedy-drama Ho Qing (Erotica), a co-production with China Star Entertainment. The $2.5m film, which started shooting today (March 24) in Hong Kong, stars Louis Koo and Eason Chan as a pair of enterprising twenty-somethings who build a pornography empire when they leave college and can't find jobs. Chan Hing-Ka, who previously directed
  • Intermedia confirms 2002 results, losses of E98.7m

    Internationalmedia,the corporate parent of Los Angeles-based Intermedia and IEG, has confirmed itspreliminary fourth quarter and year-end 2002 figures (Screendaily Mar 14), withseveral slight changes.Fourth quarterrevenues were Euros 103.2m, with the company recording a Euros 3.1m operatingprofit (EBITA).Revenues for thefiscal year ending Dec 31 2002 were Euros 259.7m, while Internationalmedia'scash position for 2002 was Euros 56.4m.The company'soperat
  • Irreversible passed uncut for UK video, DVD release

    Following its uncensored release in UK cinemas, Gaspar Noe's controversial Irreversible has been passed uncut for video and DVD release by the British Board of Film Classification. The film has been given an '18' certificate, but it will also contain consumer advice on the strong language, nudity and violent content. Having made headlines all over the world since its premiere in Cannes last year, Irreversible has received much critical acclaim and box office succe
  • Italy's DeAngelis Group picks up major classic library

    Italian production and distribution specialist DeAngelis Group has picked up a catalogue of some 200 classic feature films including Cinema Paradiso and Divorce Italian Style.DeAngelis will handle worldwide sales and distribution of the Cristaldi Films catalogue which dates from the 1940s to the early 1990s. The catalogue also contains a number of other titles with more limited territorial rights. It intends to licence the films for theatrical re-release in some territories and for dis
  • Italy's Mikado takes Coppola's Lost In Translation

    Mikado Film, Italy's long-established arthouse distributor and producer, has bought Italian distribution rights to Sofia Coppola's new film, Lost In Translation.Lost In Translation is the second feature from Sofia Coppola after The Virgin Suicides and is being sold by Focus Features. Shot in Tokyo, it stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as strangers who meet up while visiting the city and become friends.Other recent pick-ups for the Italian distributor
  • Just Married celebrates at the top over a slow weekend

    A lacklustre weekend at the UK box office saw new release Just Married take over the top spot from two week leader and fellow romantic comedy Maid In Manhattan.The top 15 titles in the UK and Ireland tallied just $7.8m (£5m) between them, a 16% drop on last weekend, which itself was 9% down on the weekend before. This weekend was also 45% down on the same weekend last year, however, those blaming the downturn on the conflict in Iraq must take other factors into acc
  • Lolafilms closes sales on Raggy Boy

    Spanish production, distribution and sales house Lolafilms has closed a string of deals in Latin America, Europe and beyond on Sundance hit Song For A Raggy Boy.From director Aisling Walsh, Raggy Boy stars Aidan Quinn and Iain Glen in the true story of a man's struggle against the violent regime of a boys' Irish reformatory school in 1939. It earned a standing ovation and rave reviews following its screening in the World Cinema section at Sundance.In Latin America
  • Media Asia boards Masked Crusader

    Hong Kong's Media Asia has boarded Han Entertainment's futuristic action movie, Masked Crusader, starring Michelle Yeoh and Richie Jen, which started shooting today (March 27) in Beijing. The $15m film is a co-production between Han, Media Asia and China's Tianjin Film Studio with the assistance of China Film Co-production Corp. Media Asia is handling distribution for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Inspired by the character of Wong Ngang - a Chinese fem
  • Media Business School appoints eight-member advisory council

    Pan-European training initiative the Media Business School (MBS) has appointed a new eight-person advisory council for its Master in Audiovisual Management (MEGA) program.The council appointees, named by MBS director Juan Pita, will each be responsible for co-ordinating lectures and shaping content for individual areas of instruction in the MEGA, now in its sixth year of operation.The program, which targets Europeans aiming to enter some aspect of the film business, includes a s
  • MIP-TV celebrates muted 40th anniversary

    MIP-TV, the television programmes market, celebrated its 40th anniversary yesterday with Champagne and a towering cake in front of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. But inside the Palais and the new Riviera complex the market was wearing a very gap-toothed smile. Corridor traffic was down on previous events and many stands remained empty. Pre-market rumours had suggested that the US studios would avoid MIP-TV, just as some had avoided sister event MIP-COM when the bombing began in Af
  • MIP-TV ends on comfortable note

    MIP-TV, the spring TV programmes market in Cannes, closed on a modestly positive note yesterday. Market chief, Rene Pires said that some 9,024 delegates had taken part. That was down 11% on last year's figure of 10,104, but was better than he had hoped for given the world's current political turmoil. Many delegates who did attend said it felt like a greater proportion was missing and many clearly cut short their stay to just two or three days. The number of buyers was similarly down -
  • Ned Kelly

    Dir: Gregor Jordan. Australia. 2003. 109mins.The lasting iconographic significance of armoured 19th-century outlaw Ned Kelly to Australian culture and mythology can not be underestimated. However, as Gregor Jordan's unromantic recreation insists, the Kelly Gang were 100% Irish, fighting age-old wars against the hated English in a hostile new land. Ned's image at home remains potent and any big-screen, big-budget biopic would attract major local arthouse and multiplex action,
  • Ned Kelly has third best local opening in Australia

    Ned Kelly grossed $460,000 - the third biggest opening day for an Australian film, behind Moulin Rouge and Crocodile Dundee 2.The massive local campaign has included a blitz-style publicity tour featuring most of the key cast, including star Heath Ledger, a huge number of massive outdoor billboards and a world premiere in Melbourne, where production was based, plus premieres in most of Australia's other major cities.The Endymion Films production is the firs
  • New HQ planned for Toronto film festival

    The Toronto International Film Festival has plans to construct its own headquarters and cinema. A purpose-built facility can only heighten the profile of the festival, which is widely considered second only to Cannes in terms of importance. It currently does not have its own public screening facilities; moreover, the closure of key cinemas used by the festival threatened the long-term viability of a downtown event. Both Montreal and Vancouver have dedicated projects underway.The
  • Nordisk Film reports $1.4m loss despite increased revenues

    Major Danish Media Group Egmont has reported a 5% increase in revenues for 2002 to Euros 1.2bn, while its film division Nordisk Film registered a Euros 1.3m loss despite improved revenues - from Euros 399m in 2001 to Euros 432m in 2002. The outfit, which encompass feature production, TV and games, is the largest Nordic producer and provider of electronic entertainment and in August 2002 merged its two sister divisions Egmont Entertainment and Nordisk Film in order to improve its profi
  • Oberhausen engulfed in Iraq war ban controversy

    The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (May 1-6) has become embroiled in controversy after announcing that it intends to ban official representatives of the US, UK, Spanish and Italian governments from attending the festival following their policy on Iraq.In an official statement, the festival said that "the world's oldest and largest short film festival has discovered and presented many important artists from the whole world in the course of now almost 50 years. The work of
  • Oscar winners get box-office boost

    Following their Oscar wins, at least three films are to be re-released internationally: Spirited Away goes out on 800 screens in the US; The Pianist goes out on 60 screens in Italy and Nowhere In Africa gets a 100-screen re-release in Germany.In Italy, The Pianist, which was first released in November 2002, grossing Euros 4.5m is re-released by RAI Cinema today, supported by a new post-Oscar campaign.Stateside, Disney is to re-release Spirited Awa
  • RAI drafts in Fiera di Milano boss as new CEO

    Less than two weeks after appointing a new president, Italian state broadcaster RAI has hired Fiera di Milano chief Flavio Cattaneo as its new CEO.Cattaneo, 39, had been president and CEO of the sprawling Fiera complex, which houses MIFED, since 2000. A trained architect, he has previously also worked in the construction industry, and is the youngest CEO ever appointed by RAI.Cattaneo replaces Agostino Sacca', who had held the position since last year. Although he had apparently
  • Saban completes takeover of KirchMedia film library

    As planned following the purchase of the majority of ProSiebenSat.1 Media on March 17 (Screendaily, March 17), US media mogul Haim Saban has now concluded a deal with insolvency manager Michael Jaffe and the KirchMedia management to acquire the film library of 18,000 films and TV series and the film rights business.The KirchMedia creditor committee of the four creditor banks Bayern LB, Commerzbank, HVB Group and DZ Bank as well as the US majors Columbia and Disney will meet on Monday M
  • Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group sets out its stall

    The changing face of Chinese media is one that looks increasingly familiar to Western eyes. But it will be some time before it is one that is fully open to outside investors.That was the message yesterday from Li Ruigang, the youthful president and CEO of the newly amalgamated Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group (SMEG), attending Cannes' MIP-TV for the first time.The SMEG behemoth was formed late last year by the merger of 11 TV channels, ten radio stations, a large cable net
  • Shooting starts on Taviani bros' Luisa San Felice

    Production has got underway on Luisa San Felice, a Euros12.5m picture directed by the celebrated Taviani brothers, Paolo and Vittorio.The cast is headed by supermodel-turned actress Laetitia Casta (pictured) and Adriano Giannini in a romance and revolution story adapted from the Alexandre Dumas classic novel La San Felice. Principal photography continues in Naples until June 20.International sales are handled by Italy's DeAngelis Group with production by DeAngelis,
  • Silverscreen Films launches in New Zealand

    Sydney-based producer Don Reynolds, who made a raft of New Zealand films in the 1980s, has created Silverscreen Films, a feature film and television production company with Geoff Dixon, a giant of the New Zealand commercials production scene. Already on the company slate is Spooked, which Reynolds and Dixon hope will go into production in Auckland in May with Geoff Murphy directing. Reynolds produced Murphy's 1980 film Goodbye Pork Pie. Silverscreen Films is a subs
  • Slovenia joins EU MEDIA Programme

    Slovenia has become the seventh Central and East European country to become a member of the European Union's MEDIA Programme following Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.The association treaty, which is back dated to January 1 2003, was signed on March 25 and sees Slovenia committing an annual financial contribution of Euros260,000 to the MEDIA budget for 2003-2005. The European Commission's PHARE Programme for the EU enlargement will meet half of the c
  • Sodano resigns from Eagle Pictures

    Giampaolo Sodano, one of the Italian film industry's leading figures, has resigned from his position as president of Eagle Pictures, after helping the company more than double its revenue over the last three years."I simply decided it was time to move on. I had completed my task, so to speak. When I arrived at Eagle, the company had a revenue of Euros 36m. In 2002, we posted a revenue of Euros 74m," Sodano told veteran producer, who is currently also head of
  • Taos announces five finalists for five-acre prize

    Organisers atthe Taos Talking Picture Festival have announced the five finalists in line forwhat is arguably the most bizarre prize in the festival world - five acres ofland on Taos' Cerro Montoso in New Mexico.The winner willbe announced at the awards presentation on Apr 12 along with the winner of theinaugural BAFTA/LA Taos Award for Excellence in Short Film.The main prize will go to the film-maker who, in the opinionof the jury, 'demonst
  • Telecino is Spain's only profitable broadcaster

    Telecinco has posted 2002 year-end net profits of Euros 85.9m, making it the only profitable broadcaster in Spain last year.The network said it boasted the second highest audience share in Spain with 20.24% thanks to its in-house productions, and had earned the highest percentage locally of the advertising market: 27.3%."These results are even more noteworthy because they were achieved in such a complex environment," said Telecinco president Alejandro Echevarria. Among other fac
  • The Bottom Of The Sea (El Fondo Del Mar)

    Dir: Damian Szifron. Argentina. 2003. 90 mins.The new independent company Aeroplano looks like it has a winner on its hands with the drama comedy The Bottom Of The Sea. This lively but mature piece combines a very individualistic vision with a firm grasp of entertainment value that will make it a strong commercial prospect in Spanish-speaking territories. World premiered in competition at Mar del Plata, it should also build a profile at forthcoming festivals leading to
  • The Quiet American wins at Valenciennes

    France's Valenciennes Action and Adventure Film Festival handed its top prize to Phillip Noyce's The Quiet American on Sunday night. Noyce, who has been enjoying critical praise for his efforts on last year's Rabbit Proof Fence and The Quiet American, also took the best director statue for the film based on Graham Greene's novel.City Without Limits from Spanish director Antonio Hernandez earned the audience award and Wild Bees from the Czech Re
  • Toshiba takes over leading Japanese distributor

    Japan's Amuse Pictures, whose recent releases include Roman Polanski's Oscar winning The Pianist, has been sold to Toshiba Corp by parent company Amuse Inc. According to the terms of the deal Amuse will transfer 67 percent of its Amuse Pictures shares to Toshiba on April 1 and the remainder in October. The total value of the shares is $12m (Y1.44bn). Currently active in film production, as well as film, DVD and video distribution, Amuse Pictures will concentrate on short
  • Tribeca Film Festival unveils international lineup for second event

    The theme of culturalexploration is writ large over this year's second Tribeca Film Festival, whichfeatures 11 world premieres and three competition strands in its second editionrunning May 3-11.Announcing the line-up today(Mar 25), founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and executive directorPeter Scarlet said the feature-length competitive sections included 41 picturesincluding four world premieres and 22 North American premieres.The dramatic competitionsection consists of
  • TV-Loonland goes for Pettson & Findus hat-trick

    TV-Loonland, the German TV outfit that controls UK theatrical distributor Metrodome, is ramping up production of the third film in its successful Pettson & Findus children's franchise.The animated film, which goes into production in the next three months, is set to be directed by Torbjorn Janssen, who has co-written the two previous episodes and co-directed the second Pettson picture with Albert Hana Kaminski. It will once again be co-produced by Loonland and Happy
  • Two novel adaptations to launch Arclight's Australian production slate

    A literary adaptation looks certain to kick off Sydney-based sales agent Arclight Films' career as a producer of Australian films but which one is the question. Arclight has announced it has started selling distribution rights to the schoolgirl teen comedy Hating Alison Ashley, from the children's classic of the same name, and is also known to have tipped development money into an adaptation of the novel The Drowner. LA-based expatriate director Rod Hardy is attach
  • UIP wins Australian Ned Kelly appeal

    Those under 15 years of age will now be able to see Ned Kelly without being accompanied by an adult following a decision by Australia's five-member Classification Review Board to classify the film M15+ rather than the tougher MA15+ originally imposed after a split vote. The film is recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over under its new classification but this is advisory rather than legally binding as previously. The film will carry the consumer advice "medium l
  • UK government film minister addresses the industry

    UK film minister Kim Howells has ruled out a levy on cinema tickets to compensate for the decline in lottery revenue, the government's main source of funding for the UK film industry. Speaking at the UK Cinemas Conference in London, Howells said: "Even though cinema admissions are rising we would be very reluctant to impose a levy on an industry in a state of flux. Any inhibition on paying customers has to be considered very carefully. At present a levy is not being considered as the o
  • UK's per-screen revenue points to cinema growth potential

    UK revenue per screen is the best in the world but there is still room for admissions growth.Speaking at the UK Cinemas Conference in London last week, leading industry consultant Simon Rumbold dismissed claims that the exhibition market in the UK was over-screened and on the verge of a meltdown. "We are believers in the growth potential of the UK cinema market," he said. "The challenge is to build in the right locations. Demographics is not the key driver; it is about the supply of go
  • Unifrance moves closer to naming new president

    France's export body, Unifrance, is getting closer to naming a new president following the sudden death of longtime president Daniel Toscan du Plantier in February.On Wednesday, three new producers were added to the board of directors of Unifrance to replace the deceased Toscan du Plantier and Christine Gouze-Renal. Also replaced was Denis Freyd who had resigned his post. Taking their places are Margaret Menegoz, Humbert Balsan and Michel Propper.The other three producers now si
  • US film organisations stress global free trade

    Global trade partnership isa key plank in the United States' free trade and anti-piracy policies,America's trade representative Ambassador Robert Zoellick told filmindustry leaders and other members of the Entertainment Industry Coalition (EIC)today (Mar 27).Speaking in Los Angeles atthe official West Coast launch of the coalition, which was set up to lobbyCongress on the benefits of international trade and enforceable copyright lawsto the entertainment community, Zoellick stressed EIC
  • Utopia

    Dir: Maria Ripoll. 2003. Spain-France. 105mins.Utopia adds to a growing body of stylish Spanish genre films and, with the right marketing and distributor Hispano Foxfilm behind it, will likely follow in their footsteps to healthy returns at the local box office. That said, it had a downbeat opening weekend, taking $342,000 from 180 screens. Foreign sales through France's TF1 should be brisk, however, more so based on secondary-market potential for genre films in any language,
  • Vien takes over Universal's international TV operations

    Patrick Vien is to take over management of Universal Television Group (UTG)'s international channel operations. These include Sci-Fi UK, 13th Street, which airs under different names in France, Spain and Germany, Studio Universal Germany, the leading film channel on the Premiere platform, USA Network Latin America and its local derivative USA Network Brazil. Vien was named president of Universal Television Group (UTG) by Michael Jackson, chairman of UTG.Vien is currently
  • Warner Bros kicks off Matrix marketing onslaught

    Warner Bros kicked off in earnest its international marketing campaign for The Matrix sequels this week, with a major London presentation - titled The Year Of The Matrix - to introduce the two films to the industry.Warners invited over 300 press, exhibitors and retail partners to the presentation on Thursday(March 27) at the Warner Village cinema in London's Leicester Square. One senior Warners' executive said it was the first event of its kind in the world.As well
  • Warner deal helps TPS' share of kids market

    TPS, the French satellite broadcaster controlled by TF1, yesterday launched three new children's channels.TPS spokesman, Guillaume de Posch said that it had planned to launch two channels under its own steam, but that the recent output deal with Warner Bros. (see Screendaily) permitted it to launch a third, effectively allowing it to take up a larger proportion of the children's market.Packaged by Turner Broadcasting System, Boomerang will consist of classic cartoons drawn from
  • Western productions head to the east

    With fully-booked studios in Prague, Cold Mountain in Romania, and Hungary and Russia making steps to woo foreign investment, Eastern Europe is becoming an increasingly desirable location.Foreign filmmaking in Prague is going strong, despite fears of a post-boom hangover following the heady days of 2001, when three US studio shoots maxed out the capacity of the Czech capital. Among a slew of productions this year are Universal Pictures' action comedy Van Helsing, and Revo
  • Wolf and Bosch join HBO as co-heads of London film sales outfit

    US cable giantHBO and its film production arm HBO Films have formed a new London-basedinternational sales and distribution outfit HBO Films London under theatricalsales veterans Penny Wolf and Rosa Bosch. Wolf and Bosch will be co-managingdirectors of the new division which will continue a theatrical sales push intoall territories for HBO Films-produced features.The move comesin a year during which HBO has revised its strategy on theatrical distributionboth in the domestic market and i
  • World premiere of If You Were Me to open Korea's Jeonju fest

    The fourth Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea will screen the world premiere of If You Were Me, an omnibus collection dealing with human rights and shot by six leading Korean directors, as its opening film. Produced and financed by Korea's Commission on Human Rights, the omnibus collection features works by directors Park Chan-wook (Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance), Jeong Jae-eun (Take Care Of My Cat), Yim Soon-rye (Waikiki Brothers), Park Jin-pyo
  • Yossi And Jagger

    Dir Eytan Fox. Israel. 64mins.Just a sketch, but highly perceptive and remarkably sensitive one at that, this compact gay love story, set in a remote Israeli military outpost on the Lebanese border, has already gone down a storm at home. Produced for cable television, shot in DV and first unveiled at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2002, the enthusiastic reception there resulted in a 35mm blowup print enjoying a limited theatrical release last year, where it proved a crossover