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30 October 2000

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  • Adriana Chiesa embarks on Indian Dream

    Italy's Adriana Chiesa Enterprises has acquired worldwide sales rights to Francesco Ranieri Martinotti's Branchie - An Indian Dream, starring local rock idol Gianluca Grignani.Based on Niccolo Ammaniti's novel, Branchie is a surreal tale about a young man who escapes to Delhi to build the city's biggest aquarium and undergoes spiritual metamorphosis. Co-produced by Italy's Iterfilm and Alia film under the patronage of the Cultural Ministry, the film also stars Valentina C
  • Altavista eyes Spain as production base

    Expanding Mexican producer Altavista Films has unveiled plans to establish a production beach head in Spain. "We hope to set up local operations in order to gain access to Spanish government incentives," said Altavista director general Francisco Gonzalez Compean.Altavista is currently in co-production talks with some of the biggest players in the Spanish film industry including Telefonica Media, Sogecable, Cartel and Filmax. It is already involved in various Spanish projects, in
  • Amores Perros takes top prize at Flanders

    Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's Amores Perros took the Grand Prize of the Flemish Community at the 27th Flanders International Film Festival in Ghent.Other prize winners included Lukas Moodysson's Together, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Faithless. A big local winner was Pleure Pas Germaine, directed by Alain de Halleux, which took three awards.The competition, which focuses on the impact of music on film, was presided over by an internationa
  • Amuse, CMC join Miramax client roster

    After a frantic week in London, Miramax International had closed most of its territorial package deals by the first day of play at MIFED. Two new clients - Japanese heavyweight Amuse Pictures and Taiwan's CMC - were among the regular buyers snatching the latest six-pack from worldwide distribution chief Rick Sands which was toplined by Scary Movie 2 and $55m adventure picture The Four Feathers (a Paramount release in North America).Amuse took four films for Japan: The
  • Billy Elliot dances away with four BIFAs

    Stephen Daldry's Billy Elliot racked up another clutch of awards at Wednesday's British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), picking up four prizes including best British independent film. Daldry picked up the best director award and collected prizes on behalf of writer Lee Hall, who won best screenplay, and the film's star, Jamie Bell, who won best newcomer. "Sorry, Stephen Daldry can't be here tonight," he quipped when picking up his own prize.The only upset as far as the
  • Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

    Dir: Joe Berlinger. US. 2000. 90minProd co: Haxan Films, Artisan Entertainment. US dist: Artisan Entertainment. Int'l Sales: Summit Entertainment, tel: (1) 310 309 8400. Exec prod: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez. Prod: Bill Carraro. Scr: Dick Beebe, Berlinger. DoP: Nancy Schreiber. Prod des: Vince Peranio. Ed: Sarah Flack. Music: Carter Burwell. Main cast: Jeffrey Donovan, Tristen Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner. Erica Leerhsen, Kim Director.The Blair Witch Project is
  • Capitol adds two more from Zoetrope

    Capitol Films has added another two American Zoetrope titles to its sales slate from its output deal with VCL - Jennifer Lopez will star as Mexican icon Frida Khalo in an untitled biopic, while Robert Duvall will direct Assassination Tango.The UK-based operation also announced that Jeremy Davies, Gerard Depardieu, Billy Zane, Elodie Bouchez and Giancarlo Gianninni will star in another American Zoetrope/VCL title, CQ, to be directed by Roman Coppola.The Frida Khalo
  • CineMedia, TeleMuenchen pact for digital film

    Germany's CineMedia and TeleMuenchen have entered into a strategic alliance to develop digital cinema. TeleMuenchen will take a 7% stake in CineMedia as part of the deal.CineMedia recently launched a division to research digital film-making, post-production and film conservation. TeleMuenchen, which is involved in licensing, production and distribution, is the second major player to hold a stake in CineMedia following German studio Bavaria Film.CineMedia, originally a pos
  • De Angelis makes Magnificent film move

    Alfonso Arau's $16m remake of The Magnificent Ambersons, a project which began life as a mini-series when it went into production this year, has now been transformed into a full-fledged feature film as part of a push into the theatrical business by its European backer, The De Angelis Group.Former RKO executive Art Horan has been hired by De Angelis to spearhead the initiative that aims to produce up to four features a year with budgets in the $5m-$25m range. Financing is to come
  • Eddie Izzard plays Charlie Chaplin for Bogdanovich

    Ramping up its production activities, Lions Gate Films is to back The Cat's Meow, a drama set against the golden age of Hollywood that intriguingly casts Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies and Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin under the direction of maverick cinephile director Peter Bogdanovich.Lions Gate, which last week announced its most expensive production to date - Frailty to star Mattthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton under Paxton's direction - is fully financing the film
  • Elstein exits UK's Channel 5

    UK broadcaster Channel 5 has parted company with its chief executive David Elstein, in a shock move announced to staff on Friday afternoon. Channel 5's director of programmes Dawn Airey is to take over from Elstein, who leaves immediately after four years with no other job to go to.In a statement, Channel 5 said Elstein was exercising his contractual share options. Elstein commented: "My contract was geared to optioning my benefits as soon as I had completed four years in charge
  • Emperor kicks off $100m film push with Highbinders

    Emperor Group CEO Gordon Chan is to put his directing career on hold while he powers up the wealthy Hong Kong company's $100m drive into film. Chan and Emperor president Albert Yeung plan to develop a slate of quality Asian movies that play well in both Asia and the international markets. "The reason I am here is that Albert Yeung shares my vision of the film business. Our goal is to build a company that has an impact in Asia and internationally - especially in the US," said Chan.
  • Film Consortium gets greenlight to continue

    UK National Lottery franchise The Film Consortium has secured lottery funding for another three years after it cleared a mid-term review by film super body the Film Council.Although some Council board members were highly critical of the consortium, the Council said that it accepted that the operation had performed below expectations in some areas. The Council was encouraged by an injection of new capitol and a revised business plan from start-up UK media concern Civilian Content, whic
  • Filmax partners with Miramax on Darkness

    In the highest-profile pre-sale during the London market screenings so far, Spanish mini-studio Filmax Group has partnered with Miramax Films on Jaume Balaguero's horror flick Darkness for English-speaking territories including the US. Miramax snagged the English-language title during the London screenings after a bidding war for US rights on the highly-anticipated second film from the award-winning director of The Nameless (Los Sin Nombre).The deal was sign
  • Filmax seeks partners for Fantastic fare

    Spanish mini-studio Filmax plans to open its genre division Fantastic Factory, co-founded two years ago by director Brian Yuzna and Filmax president Julio Fernandez, to co-production partners. "We have proved that we can deliver films of quality and range. Now we want to bring on-board co-producers and to increase budgets," said Yuzna. Fantastic's first production, Faust, a dark, violent picture with a comic-book look, directed by Yuzna, premiered in London yesterday (Tue
  • Floods delay Italy's St Vincent Prize

    Italy's prestigious St. Vincent Prize for Italian cinema, scheduled to be held this week, has been postponed due to the heavy flooding that has swamped north-western Italy in the last couple of weeks. Felice Laudadio, director of the Valle d'Aosta-based St. Vincent festival, said it would be "inopportune" to hold the event. Instead, the 42nd edition of the festival will be held from December 11-16."We took this decision in view of the immense tragedy that has struck northern Ita
  • Fortissimo capitalises on Asian cinema boom

    Fortissimo Film Sales has picked up a trio of new films from Thailand and China, the hottest producing countries in Asia. And a string of top sales shows that buyers are now lapping up the Asian resurgence.First addition is Fata La Jone, a romantic comedy from Thailand, by Film Bangkok, the producing team behind Fortissimo's Bangkok Dangerous and Nonzee Nimibutr's soaraway hit Nang Nak. The 1940s-set piece is directed by first timer, Wisit Sasa Natieng, who used ex
  • Gaga takes Gaudi Afternoon for Japan

    Japanese distributor Gaga Media has bought local rights to Gaudi Afternoon from Lolafilms UK, in a deal struck at the London market screenings last week.The Susan Seidelman directed film had previously been sold to Kinowelt for Germany, Eastern Europe, Russia, Switzerland and Vietnam; to Lolafilms for Spain; Smile for Scandinavia; Shapira for Israel; Odean for Greece; RTV for Turkey; Ster-Kinekor for South Africa and Haskolabio for Iceland.Starring Judy Davis, Marcia Gay
  • Gladiator passes 100,000 mark in Serbia

    Gladiator has become the first foreign title to pass the 100,000 admissions mark in Serbia so far this year. The film, released by Vans which handles UIP product in Serbia, has sold 105,000 tickets on eight prints after 10 weeks on release.The only other non-domestic title to come close to this tally during 2000 is The Matrix with 92,000 admissions. Two Serbian titles have also passed the 100,000 mark: Sky Hook and The Secret Of The Family Treasure.
  • Gordon's $30m Tree takes root at MGM, Winchester

    Chuck Gordon's Daybreak Productions has finally set up the first picture to fall under his independent financing structure now that MGM has committed to taking domestic rights to The Tree, a $30m comedy featuring hot rising star Johnny Knoxville.Winchester Films - which set up the international distribution structure for Gordon on Daybreak with output and equity partners including Advanced Medien (Germany), Svensk Filmindustri (Scandinavia), Village Roadshow (Australia, New Zeal
  • Hanway buyers go at it like rabbits

    UK-based sales outfit HanWay has sold Rabbit Proof Fence, its Phillip Noyce-directed, Australian-set period story featuring Kenneth Branagh, to a brace of European markets including France and Germany.Bac took the picture in France, while Odeon boarded for Germany. Sales completed in the run-up to London included Sandrews Metronome for Scandinavia. HanWay chief Thierry Wase-Bailey is also close to a Japanese sale.Rabbit Proof was the first pick-up for Australia's r
  • Ibermedia doles out $3.6m in third funding round

    Iberoamerican film fund, Ibermedia, has handed out a $3.6m to ten territories in its third funding round. Countries to benefit include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela. The bulk of the fund (60%) went to co-productions, while 30% went to distribution, 5% to project development and 5% to training. Spain received the largest share of the pie with $737,800 for 20 projects.Among the high-profile projects selected for aid in dis
  • India's PentaMedia acquires Film Roman

    Indian multimedia production outfit PentaMedia Graphics is to acquire a 51% stake in LA-based animation house Film Roman for $15m, establishing a US beachhead for the public company which already has satellite offices in the UK and Luxembourg.Best known for producing The Simpsons and King Of The Hill for Fox, Film Roman has recently launched a live action and animated feature film slate which will be expedited by the PentaMedia investment.The two parties were broug
  • Info Avenue finances latest Imamura project

    Japanese ecommerce outfit Info Avenue Corp has raised finance for a second production - Shohei Imamura's Lukewarm Water Under The Red Bridge (Akai Hashi No Shita No Nurui Mizu) - through its on-line financing scheme.Info Avenue recruits film fans through a web-site as paying members of "support groups" for individual films. The "supporters" purchase memberships, ranging from Y5,000-Y100,000, in return for various benefits, including access to a dedicated web-site at which they c
  • Intermedia gets first-look at Kassar, Vajna's C-2

    Intermedia has confirmed it has struck a first-look pact with Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna's US production company C-2 Pictures, kicking off with sequels to the blockbusters The Terminator and Basic Instinct.Both films are to feature their original stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. Intermedia, which floated in Germany in May as Internationalmedia, plans to deliver Basic Instinct 2 in 2001 and raise about $80m in minimum guarantees for that year.
  • Israeli-Arab crisis hits Haifa fest

    A slew of no-shows inevitably marred this year's Haifa "Neighbours" Film Festival, which was held despite the current Israeli-Arab crisis. Among the few who dared to make the trip was Irena Strzalkowska, head of Poland's Tor production company, Russian director Vladimir Khotinenko, Georgian directors Dito Tzintzadze and Nana Djordjadze, plus French director Franka Mouloudi, who insisted on presenting her documentary on Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahpouz as a personal statement
  • Istituto Luce grabs Semana Santa

    Italian state-funded distributor Istituto Luce has acquired local rights to Pepe Danquart's English-language thriller Semana Santa, starring Mira Sorvino and Olivier Martinez, which is currently shooting in Seville.UGC International is handling sales on the $5m film about a female US police detective who becomes involved in a double murder case during Holy Week celebrations. Roy Mitchell wrote the script, an adaptation of David Hewson's novel.The UK's Wandering Star and G
  • Joint Security Area a hit for South Korea

    South Korea's current local box office hit, Joint Security Area (JSA), has attracted 1.875 million admissions in Seoul and over 4.1 million admissions across the country since its release on September 9. Set in one of the most militarised frontiers in the world, the film tells of the friendship between a couple of North and South Korean soldiers. It is written and directed by Chan-Wook Park.In Seoul, JSA has now overtaken all other local films released since Januar
  • Juarez exits HBO Latin America

    Ele Juarez has abruptly resigned from his position as CEO of HBO Latin America. The movie channel's board of directors have accepted his resignation and appointed Gaston Comas as interim CEO. Comas has been a member of HBO's board since the company's creation nearly 10 years ago. Rumours that Jose Manuel Pagani would return to take over the reins once more were firmly denied both by him and HBO Latin America. Juarez was formerly based in Madrid as head of Prisa's audiovisual div
  • Kevin Williams Associates does the Mexican wave

    Spain's KWA has partnered with Mexico's Videocine and Warner Bros to represent titles from their joint production venture, Coyoacan Films, starting with local box office sensation The Second Night (La Segunda Noche).The romantic comedy grossed $5.2m in Mexico at a time when several other local productions have also been taking the box office by storm. Sex, Shame And Tears (Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrimas), for example, is the third highest-grossing film ever in Mexico - behind onl
  • Kinowelt sells piece of AAC to feed Momentum

    Germany's Kinowelt Medien has sold close to one million shares of Alliance Atlantis Communication (AAC) worth approximately $13m, part of which it will funnel into Momentum Pictures, the UK distribution company it controls equally with AAC.Paul Laberge, AAC senior vice president of corporate development and general counsel, told ScreenDaily the move would allow Kinowelt to meet its financial obligation to Momentum. The partners are committed to investing $25m per year for three
  • Korea's Cinema Service makes sales debut

    One of Korea's largest producer-distributors, Cinema Service, is making its market debut as a film seller this week with a slate of nine pictures including local box office hit Bichunmoo.The $5m martial arts romance has scored 2.3 million admissions at the Korean box office. Shot in Shanghai with a Chinese martial arts team, the film is described by Cinema Services sales manager Josh Lee Describes as "more Asian than Korean." The company is also selling Il Mare, wh
  • Local film dishes up Australian record

    Rob Sitch-directed The Dish has crashed through the record barrier with the highest weekend opening gross for an Australian film at the local box office. The Roadshow release grossed $1.56m (A$2.985m) from 281 prints on its four-day opening weekend - more than any other Australian film in history. Including its three days of pre-opening previews prior to its Oct 19 release, the film has pulled in a total gross of $2.25m (A$4.3m). Roadshow Film Distributors chairman Ian Sands bel

    Pathe International's The Hole has emerged as one of the briskest selling UK titles of the market, where it was taken by Spain's Sogepaq, Germany's Tobis, Scandinavia's Sandrews and Italy's Nexo (buying outside its New Line output deal for the first time). Francois Ivernel, head of Pathe's UK operation Pathe Entertainment, said the operation is also close to a deal for Japan. Other markets sold on the film during London or Milan include Israel
  • Lucky Numbers

    Dir: Nora Ephron. US. 2000. 105 mins. Prod co: Paramount Pictures, Mad Chance, Alphaville. US dist: Paramount. Int'l dist: UIP. Int'l sales (Europe and Africa): StudioCanal. Prods: Andrew Lazar, Jonathan D Krane, Sean Daniel, Nora Ephron. Exec prod: G Mac Brown. Scr: Adam Resnick. DoP: John Lindley. Prod des: Dan Davis. Ed: Barry Malkin. Music: George Fenton. Main cast: John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth, Ed O'Neill, Michael Rapaport, Bill Pullman, Michael Moore.Luc
  • Macquarie strikes distribution pact with UIP

    Australian private investment vehicle Macquarie Film Corp (MFC) has signed a two-year distribution pact with UIP. Under the terms of the deal, UIP will have first option to handle the Australian theatrical release of all titles backed by MFC. The two partners will jointly devise marketing strategies and share p&a costs for films which fall under the deal."Our philosophy is that to make money from investment you have to be very hands-on in the role of sales, distribution and mark
  • Malick, Mandoki turn to Constantin

    New projects from Terence Malick and Luis Mandoki are being developed by Constantin Film, the production arm of Bernd Eichinger's Neue Constantin, through its joint venture with Propaganda Films. In addition the German outfit has purchased two books in the UK through its joint venture with Impact Pictures.Malick - who enjoyed a strong relationship with Propaganda Films president Rick Hess when he made The Thin Red Line at Hess' former company Phoenix Pictures - is developing a m
  • Marquet to take strategic role at StudioCanal

    Daniel Marquet, one of the most familiar faces at film markets, is to take a new role within the ever-changing StudioCanal group. From January he becomes head of corporate development (directeur delegue au developpement). A strategic role, answerable to StudioCanal principals Vincent Grimond and Michel Schmidt, he will be responsible for building out the studio structure across Europe.StudioCanal will not appoint a senior seller above John Kochman to replace Marquet. Instead the role o
  • MBP backs Sides with second fund

    German finance house MBP has launched its second tranche of investment, through which it will back Istvan Szabo's $10.5m Taking Sides amongst other projects. The Munich-based outfit plans to raise up to $42.7m (DM100m) from German individuals seeking to lessen their tax burden by the end of 2001. Taking Sides, which is also backed by Studio Babelsberg and StudioCanal, has been shooting in Dresden since October 16 with Harvey Keitel and Stellan Skarsgard in the lead
  • McDougal to plough Metro Tartan's Fields

    UK-based distribution to production concern Metro Tartan is readying to shoot its Martin Amis adaptation London Fields after securing Charles McDougal as director.McDougal, whose previous credits include UK TV show Queer As Folk, is to direct the project this spring in the UK. Producing duties fall to Chris Hanley, whose credits include Virgin Suicides and American Psycho, and Metro Tartan chief Hamish McAlpine, who produces through Metro Tartan's production operat
  • Media Most cuts deal with Gazprom

    Embattled Russian media giant Media Most Group has reached what it described as an "amicable agreement" with its chief creditor, state gas giant Gazprom. While details are not yet available the deal would also involve bringing on board an unnamed foreign investor according to a spokeswoman for the group.The agreement, which has yet to be signed, was announced at a Moscow court last week which was to consider a suit brought by Gazprom against the group. Media Most owes $473m to Gazprom
  • Microsoft in talks for Sky Global stake

    Microsoft is in talks to take a small minority stake in Rupert Murdoch's global satellite platform Sky Global Networks, according to The Wall Street Journal.The deal would make Microsoft the second high-profile investor in Sky Global following John Malone's Liberty Media which signed up for a 4.76% stake last month (ScreenDaily, September 30). Murdoch was due to take Sky Global public this autumn, but the float has been delayed until next year because of volatilit
  • Nippon Herald takes Intermedia trio for Japan

    Nippon Herald Films has clinched a three picture deal with Intermedia that covers the Harrison Ford-starrer K:19 The Widowmaker, K:Pax starring Kevin Spacey and The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey.The deal marks the first multi-picture sale for Intermedia since it unveiled its star-studded slate just ahead of the London Screenings. K: Pax will be handled by Universal in the US; while The Wedding Planner, which was well rece
  • Pandora, Warner show literary bent

    Pandora Pictures, the new Los Angeles incarnation of what was formerly Paris-based Pandora Cinema, has unveiled the first two films to come through its co-financing arrangement with Warner Bros. Both are literary adaptations that represent a significant step up in budgets for the company.The White Oleander, a $17m female ensemble piece to be adapted from the best-selling novel by Janet Fitch, tells the story of a teenage girl who learns to survive and finds an ersatz parent afte
  • Paramount Classics guns for Schroeder's Assassins

    StudioCanal has sold Barbet Schroeder's Our Lady Of The Assassins to Paramount Classics for the US. Paramount has also taken rights for Colombia, the country where the hard-hitting gay-themed film that takes place within a culture where human life is dirt cheap was secretly filmed. In addition, StudioCanal has struck a slew of early deals on its new David Lynch title Mulholland Drive. The $7m picture, which was originally conceived as a pilot for an ABC series, but is now
  • Prisa invests $10m in Bolivia's Garafulic

    Spanish multimedia giant Grupo Prisa plans to pump $10m into leading Bolivian media group Garafulic to develop new and existing TV, internet, print and radio ventures in Bolivia.The move forms part of Prisa's expansion into the Spanish-speaking Latin American market. Among other interests, the group already owns publishing giant Santillana and has a majority stake in Muxxic Latina, a joint venture with Universal Music Group. For Garafulic, the investment provides needed capital to supp
  • Rex Media rides high with Larson

    Rex Media, which enjoys a multipicture relationship with Ray Stark's Rastar, is close to sealing a similar co-financing and sales arrangement with veteran TV producer Glen A Larson.The first picture to fall under the agreement will be a film version of long-running series Knightrider with original star David Hasselhof committed to being involved. Larson, whose longterm contract with Universal recently expired, was also responsible for hit TV franchises such as Battlestar Gala
  • Sales Co titles go to UK at London

    Testifying to a renewed UK market, The Sales Co has used this week's London screenings to close sales on a trio of titles to local distributors.Momentum Pictures, the UK joint venture of Germany's Kinowelt and Canada's Alliance Atlantis, picked up local rights to Kieron J Walsh's romantic comedy When Brendan Met Trudy.Pawel Pawlikowski's made-for TV drama Last Resort is now set for a UK theatrical release following well-received screenings at Venice and Edinburgh.
  • Scanbox unveils slate despite takeover

    Sales operation, Scanbox International continues to demonstrate rude health despite the troubles of its parent Denmark's Scanbox Entertainment, once the largest independent distributor in the Nordic region and now in the process of being sold to Germany's VCL Film + Medien after suffering through three years of losses.Restructuring notwithstanding, the Los Angeles-based Scanbox International has added a further four English-language titles with combined production budgets of $65m to it
  • Senator grabs Germany's X men

    One of Germany's sexiest production outfits, X Filme Creative Pool, has joined the growing list of companies to come under the Senator Entertainment umbrella.Senator announced yesterday it has acquired 51% of X Filme, the Berlin and Cologne-based filmmaking collective that sealed its international reputation as the producer of Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run. Senator, which is listed on the Frankfurt Neuer Markt exchange where it enjoys a current market capitalisation of $577m,
  • Star TV appoints Smith to head China

    Hong Kong-based broadcaster Star TV has appointed Laurie Smith as executive vice president, China, as part of a drive to step up operations on the mainland.Smith retains his current positions as chief representative of Star TV parent News Corp's Beijing office and COO of News Corp, China. "This enables us to forge strong partnerships in broadcasting and interactive services in the China market," said Smith.Star TV chairman James Murdoch praised Smith for laying a solid fo
  • T Joy unveils plans for digital multiplexes

    T Joy, part of Japan's Toei group, plans to start construction in Hiroshima this December on a multiplex that will project digitised films downloaded from a communications satellite. The company will spend $7.2m (Y780m) on the six-screen theatre which will have a seating capacity of 668. In addition to films, the new multiplex will broadcast live sports events and other entertainment programming. T Joy has plans for similar theatres in Toei's Oizumi Studio in Tokyo by 2001, in Osaka by
  • The Captive (La Captive)

    Dir: Chantal Akerman. France. 108 mins.Prod cos: Gemini Films - Arte France Cinema. Int'l sales: Gemini Films. Exec producer: Paolo Branco. Scr: Akerman and Eric de Kuyper, freely inspired by Marcel Proust's La Prisonniere. DoP: Sabine Lancelin. Ed: Claire Atherton. Prod des: Christian Marti. Main cast: Stanislas Merhar, Sylvie Testud, Olivia Bonamy, Liliane Rovere, Francoise BertinPaolo Branco, the indefatigable producer who took a chance on Marcel Proust and came up wit
  • UK's Carlton acquires HTV franchise

    UK media concern Carlton Communications has confirmed it is buying the HTV TV franchise from rival Granada Media. Carlton is paying just over $263m in cash for HTV and its 20% stake in Meridian, the ITV broadcaster for south-east England. Granada had to sell HTV to satisfy competition requirements after it bought the broadcaster as part of a package of ITV assets from United News & Media in July.
  • United Artists takes world on Born Romantic

    In the first major buy of the London Screenings, United Artists (UA) has acquired worldwide rights to The Sales Co's UK comedy Born Romantic, which world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and closes next month's London Film Festival. Sales Co chief Alison Thompson confirmed the deal, which does not include Italy. For MGM and UA, the move is expected to mark a renewed interest in acquisitions out of the UK. While US-based Sara Rose continues to head acquisition
  • Via Digital secures Euros640m loan

    Spanish digital satellite TV platform Via Digital is set to receive a cash injection of Euros640m via a loan organised by the Chase Manhattan Bank.According to a press statement released jointly by Via and Chase, the loan will be used to finance the platform's plans for expansion which include continuing to improve its content offer and diversifying its interactive services.The loan will also help offset Via's debts, which rounded Euros110m at the end of 1999. Via backer Telefon
  • Vienna gives top prize to Balkan drama

    Goran Rebic's take on the Balkan war, The Punishment, won the award for best Austrian film at the Vienna International Film Festival (October 13-25).Shot in the face of anti-Serbian sentiment, the documentary by the Serbian-born, Vienna-raised film-maker focuses on NATO's bombing of Belgrade and the subsequent devastation. The Standard Award, selected by readers of a local publication, went to Agnes Varda's Les Glaneurs Et La Glaneuse (The Gleaners And I).
  • Warner Bros takes North America on The Dish

    Warner Bros Pictures has acquired North American rights to The Dish, the Australian comic drama which opened last weekend in its home territory with the highest opening for a local film in history.The deal marks a rare independent pick-up from Warner, coming at a time when rumours are swirling about the establishment of its own specialised distribution arm. While The Dish will be released by Warner Bros Pictures, it signals an openness to smaller films under the new studi
  • What Lies Beneath Scares Off Dinosaur

    What Lies Beneath scored a startling $3m (£2.1m) at 354 sites in its first three days in the UK, taking the number one spot from Dinosaur which dropped just 5% from its opening weekend. In one of the best weekends since the Toy Story 2 highs in February this year, the Top 15 films scored an aggregate of $13.4m (£9.3m) bolstering fourth quarter admission revenue. This week Dinosaur will also benefit substantially from the half-term school holidays.The superna
  • Zebra unwraps Big Brother for big screen

    Spanish producer Antonio Saura has unveiled the first feature film out of his start-up outfit Zebra Producciones, an innovative reality show spin-off shot entirely in secrecy and starring the cast of Gran Hermano, the Spanish version of hit TV programme Big Brother.According to the film's director, Antonio Hernandez, the project - titled El Gran Marciano - marks "the first time in the history of cinema that the protagonists [of a feature film] didn't know they were