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4 September 2001

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  • A Knight's Tale gallops into UK Box Office

    FilmFour's Lucky Break failed to come back from a disappointing start last weekend, falling 35% in its second weekend as Columbia TriStar's A Knight's Tale charged into the UK box-office.Knight's Tale, starring latest Aussie export Heath Ledger alongside local talent including Rufus Sewell, The Full Monty's Mark Addy and Gangster No. 1's Paul Bettany, grossed $2.4m (£1.7m), including previews of $478,775. The period action comedy set in the world of j
  • Australia's April reveals strong slate

    Australia's April Films has announced a slate of seven films, two and a half years after it launched on the back of a first look deal with Universal Pictures. The most developed project is The Campaign, a contemporary screwball comedy written by Tony McNamara and with Praise director John Curran and Two Hands producer Marion Macgowan attached. The company has also partnered with Sarah Radclyffe Productions in the UK on Toad Rage, a big budget CGI adaptation
  • Beattie joins Lewis Horowitz Organisation

    Los Angeles-based film finance operation The Lewis Horowitz Organization (LHO) has named former Equicap Financial Corporation executive Robert Beattie as its new Canadian representative. Beattie will be based in Vancouver, British Columbia. LHO founder and president Lew Horowitz said Beattie's presence in Vancouver will "significantly increase our ability to assist Canadian clients in putting film and TV production deals together." Beattie was previously senior vice president at
  • Bittersweet success for The Greatest Thing

    After years of commercial disappointment, which earlier this year saw the closure of the studio, Norwegian state-owned production company Norsk Film last week-end found the success it had long been denied with the release of its final film, The Greatest Thing (Den Storste I Verden). Ironically, the costume drama based on a classic novel by Bjornstjerne Bjornson turned out to be the success Norsk Film so urgently needed when the Norwegian Ministry of Culture made its fateful deci
  • Brazil sees Rouge, French go Ape

    20th Century Fox had good cause to celebrate this week as two of its films, Planet Of The Apes and Moulin Rouge took control of the international box office. Openings in several major territories including a hugely successful launch in France, helped Tim Burton's re-imagining of the 1968 sci-fi classic pass the $100m mark internationally. Apes sold a massive 1.4m tickets over the weekend in France and went on to sell 1.7m in its first full week. This makes it the m
  • Bridget Jones's Diary records $100m

    On a weekend that saw a sharp disappointment for UK box office hopeful Lucky Break, UK mega-hit Bridget Jones's Diary passed the $100m international box office mark, having debuted in several territories, including Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and Finland. Distributed in most international territories by UIP, the romantic comedy has taken a massive $104.1m to date and clearly has a long life ahead of it, with several major territories including Hong Kong and France still
  • Cairo Film Festival celebrates 25 years

    Cairo International Film Festival, which for the past 10 years has been recognised as a competitive event by international producers' body FIAPF (and remains one of only 11 festivals to be given this A-grade status), celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with a retrospective of some of the most important films from the Arabic world in the past quarter century, as well as a look back at the best films to have come out of Canada in that time.The festival, which runs October 9-20, als
  • Danish action-comedy sequel to film in Sweden

    The follow-up to the first and so far only Danish action-comedy In China They Eat Dogs, which was well received by audiences and critics alike in 1999, Old Men In New Cars (In China They Eat Dogs 2), is getting ready to shoot in Sweden, after regional fund Film I Vast provided the final piece of the $1.8m (DKR14.5m) budget.Like the first film, which scooped an impressive 220.000 admissions domestically and had offers for English-language remakes, the script for
  • Denmark's Egmont announces restructuring plan

    Nordic media major Egmont has announced a significant change in its group management structure. Analysts call the initiative vigorous as new CEO, Steffen Kragh only took up his position three weeks ago. Kragh says the changes are necessary to increase the company's profitability and re-focus the international business. Denmark's 123 year-old media giant, which spans such diverse markets as magazines, comics, books and preschool products to film (including Nordisk Film), TV, animation,
  • Dragon and Andell merge to launch Mission

    Graham Broadbent and Damian Jones, the UK producers behind Very Annie Mary and Welcome To Sarajevo production outfit Dragon Pictures, have teamed with Andrew Hauptman and Ellen Bronfman's well-heeled film operation, Andell Entertainment, to launch Mission Pictures. Mission aims to fuel an ambitious drive into internationally-oriented, bigger-budget projects with an undisclosed amount of development and overhead cash from Andell, the film arm of the private investment comp
  • Dutch industry decries foreign use of tax breaks

    Just one week after the European Commission approved Holland's new tax break system (valid until 2003), the Federation of Film Interests - a union made up of screenwriters, directors, producers, actors and other professionals - has called for a regulation of the system. The federation is talking to policymakers and financiers about some of its criteria, which hitherto had been based on 'agreements', rather than clearly defined rules. The Dutch industry has become increasingly unhappy w
  • FCC greenlights three new Oz films

    The Australian Film Finance Corporation (FCC) has greenlighted the desert drama Japanese Story from the creative team that made local sleeper Road To Nhill, and starring Toni Collette. The other two projects getting FCC approval are Blurred, the first in a series of low-budget films supported by UK sales agent Portman Film, and Take Away a comedy about rival fish and chip shops that will see the producer of local hit The Craic turn his hand to directing.
  • Gas Attack

    Dir: Kenny Glenaan. Scotland. 2001. 70 minsA troubling blend of stark facts and alarming fiction, Gas Attack belongs to a long tradition of controversial British documentary-dramas that includes the nuclear attack landmarks The War Game (1965) and Threads (1984). Told with all the urgency of a breaking news story, it addresses the plight of Scotland's Turkish asylum seekers through the conventions of a stark conspiracy thriller. Topicality alone made it a must-
  • Germany's Kinowelt on the verge of bankruptcy

    Two days ahead of the publication of its half-yearly figures, debt-ridden German media group Kinowelt Medien joined the ranks of the so-called "penny stocks" as trading on Wednesday sent the share price down by some 17% to a new all-time low of Euro 0.90.The latest slump in the share price came after the German online news service Netzzeitung alleged that Kinowelt was on the verge of bankruptcy because a Euro 60m credit might not now be forthcoming from a consortium of banks led by BHF
  • Germany's KirchMedia acquires Splendid package

    In a deal worth Euro 23.3m, KirchMedia has acquired the free- and pay -TV rights to a 22-film package from Splendid Film for the German market, including Traffic, Gangs Of New York, Dr T & The Women and Cutaway. Commenting on the deal, KirchMedia's deputy chairman Fred Kogel welcomed "the beginning of a successful collaboration with Splendid Film. The acquired films have a great audience potential". The deal is a timely boon for Splendid which has experienced a difficult
  • Germany's VCL teams with UIP for distribution

    After Scanbox cooperated with US major UIP in Scandinavia for theatrical distribution of its films, Scanbox's mother company, German media concern VCL Film + Medien's theatrical arm VCL Licensing has now entered into a distribution cooperation with UIP's German outpost to handle the physical distribution of its films.The first release will be Woody Allen's The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion which will be released in German cinemas in December 2001, followed in February 2002 by J
  • Hermann to head Nordisk post-production facilities

    Despite the fact that the appointment, in January 2000, of producer Lars Hermann as head of development for the Danish Film Institute was widely approved by the local industry, he has decided to move on to head up Nordisk Film's new conglomeration of it's post-production facilities ShortCut and Johan Ankerstjerne A/S, now called FilmTeknik A/S. ShortCut will continue as a brand for the company's digital activities. When Hermann moves to Nordisk on October 15, he will be returning to th
  • How unlucky was UK's Lucky Break'

    The hottest national holiday weekend Saturday since 1871 may have contributed to it, but Lucky Break pitiful UK opening weekend box office of (£348,613) from 270 sites nationwide suggests a . Screen International's Nick Hunt tracks the development of the movie that everyone expected to be a hot hit.1998-99In the wake of his small-scale comedy The Full Monty. young UK director Peter Cattaneo is nominated for an Oscar and deluged with script offers followi
  • Huge losses stoke Kinowelt bankruptcy talk

    Six month trading figures published by Kinowelt on Friday evening (Aug 31) after the stockmarkets closed served only to heighten film industry and finance sector speculation about the possible insolvency of the stricken German distributor. In Venice several sources claimed to have knowledge of a bankruptcy announcement within the next days. The Financial Times Deutschland reported similar concerns among the banking community and a six to ten day deadline for the successful concl
  • Hungary's Mafilm faces coproduction starvation

    Mafilm, Hungary's largest film production company, responsible for many local and international successes such as last year's award-winning Hungarian movie, Jadwiga's Pillow, is fighting the erosion of its dominant hold on the country's filmmaking business."A new Hungarian opera-based film, Bank Ban which has a budget of $2.9m (800m Forint) hasn't even knocked on Mafilm's doors - something that would have been unbelievable in the past," says Malfilm production manager Pet
  • I Capture The Castle finally to shoot this month

    I Capture The Castle, BBC Films' adaptation of the acclaimed book by The Hundred And One Dalmatians author Dodie Smith, is to start shooting in three weeks after nearly six years in development.Subject to casting, the £5.7m project has finally come together a patchwork of independent financing from operations including Distant Horizon, UK tax fund Baker Street Take 3 and incentives from the Isle of Man. Icon is also expected to come on board, possibly taking some rights from Dis
  • Italian government set to agree film tax shelter

    For the first time in post-war history, the Italian government looks set to ratify a national tax shelter to help fund the entertainment industry. Speaking during a talk held at the Venice Film Festival, Carmelo Rocca, the cultural department under-secretary, confirmed that Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani is fully backing the tax shelter initiative launched by the national Italian film body, Anica. Treasury Minister Giulio Tremonti is also understood to support the initiative.A
  • Italy doubles script development funding

    The Italian Cultural Department has more than doubled the funding it started allocating last year for script development, giving state distributor Istituto Luce the task of managing the project for the second year in a row. Istituto Luce president Angelo Guglielmi confirmed that the distributor has now set up a special commission, formed by an independent producer, a distributor and a writer, to decide which projects will receive funding. The commission is formed by Maurizio Tin
  • Italy's Cortesi prepares new Infascelli project

    Massimo Cortesi, head of the Rome-based company Navert Film which co-produced Claire Peploe's Triumph of Love and Giuseppe Bertolucci's Love Probably - both screening in Venice - is lining up a new film to be directed by Italy's Fiorella Infascelli. Cortesi said he is looking for international co-production partners to board the drama, which was also written by Infascelli, whose credits as a director include 1988's Maschera with Helena Bonham Carter, and 1992's
  • Jeepers Creepers

    Dir: Victor Salva. US. 2001. 90 mins.There's a refreshing innocence to Jeepers Creepers, a stylish horror-thriller from Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope that indulges in the odd knowing genre joke but puts most of its energy into delivering good old-fashioned B-movie thrills. Teens raised on Scream and its imitators might find it all a bit quaint and chaste. Twentysomethings and baby boomers, however, are likely to relish the film's sense of visceral fun
  • KirchGroup will not acquire EM.TV shares

    Germany's KirchGroup has announced that it will now not acquire a 16.74% stake and minority voting rights of 25.1% in the debt-ridden EM.TV & Merchandising and has withdrawn its application to the German cartel authority "in agreement with EM.TV". Earlier this year, the anti-trust authority had launched a three-month investigation into Kirch's plans to board EM.TV, and there had been an indication that the transaction would only be approved on the understanding that EM.TV parted compan
  • Korea may withdraw national film festival support

    Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism is reconsidering the financial support it awards to the nation's international film festivals. Faced with a substantial increase in the number of festivals applying for support, the ministry has announced that its current policy will apply only until the end of 2002, after which festivals will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.The ministry's announcement has caused consternation among Korea's festival organizers, as a loss of federal funding w
  • Kuhn and Parfitt team up for Sky Boys

    Michael Kuhn has partnered with Academy Award-winning producer David Parfitt on Sky Boys, an action drama that marks the first project unveiled in the former PolyGram Filmed Entertainment chief's bid to make big-budget European films. The story of a heist on the Empire State building during its construction has been written by Kirk De Micco and Frederik Du Chau, who respectively wrote and directed Warner Bros' family animation, Quest For Camelot. Parfitt, whose cre
  • L'amore Probabilmente ( Probably Love )

    Dir: Giuseppe Bertolucci. Italy, 2001. 112 mins.Towards the end of Giuseppe Bertolucci's new film, the director's voice can be heard off-camera, pondering one of those fundamental questions: "Do I really want to make this film, or do I just want to dream it'" One can't help feeling that the latter would have been the better option. Although it left the press cold, the film was applauded at its official Venice screening by a young, predominantly Italian, cine-literate audience
  • Liberato's outfit boards Gucci

    Andrea De Liberato's Rome-based production outfit Poetiche Cinematografiche, which produced Venice 58 competition title Luna Rossa, has boarded director Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov's upcoming film, currently known as Gucci.The Tajikistan filmmaker's new project, about three young street thugs who carry out robberies so that they can buy designer clothes, starts shooting later this month in Moscow and Yalta. Budgeted at $2m, the film is being co-produced by Karl Baumgart
  • Lions Gate gets US rights for The Grey Zone

    Lions Gate Films has acquired all North American rights to Millenium Films' The Grey Zone, which is set for its world premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival.Directed by Tim Blake Nelson and based on his own award-winning Off Broadway play, The Grey Zone is a drama, set in Auschwitz, about the Sonderkommando, the Jews who were forced to help the Nazis execute their fellow Jews. The cast is led by Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, David Arquette a
  • Long Run

    Dir: Jean Stewart. South Africa. 2001. 111mins.This attempt to create a simple triumph-against-adversity story, set against the world of long distance running in post-apartheid South Africa, has many good elements including a stand-out performance from Armin Mueller-Stahl and picaresque camerawork by British lenser Cinders Forshaw. However, the script fails to exploit its inherent dramatic possibilities, as well as being hampered by clumsy direction. Box office in South Afric
  • Me Without You

    Dir: Sandra Goldbacher. UK. 2001. 107 mins. Sandra Goldbacher's follow-up to The Governess is a another female-centred period piece, although of a very different kind. A bittersweet comedy tracing a tempestuous friendship over 30 years, it's shrewdly observed and beautifully mounted, but suffers from an unevenness of tone and a fractured story structure, with a marked loss of energy in the last half hour. Festival bookings will raise its profile (it plays in Venice's C
  • Mikado grabs Italian rights to Lagaan epic

    Rome-based distribution outfit Mikado has scooped up Italian rights to Ashutosh Gowarkier's sprawling Bollywood epic, Lagaan (aka Once Upon A Time In India). Mikado's Luigi Musini said the distribution company had picked up the film after it screened at the Locarno Film Festival in August, where it met with an enthusiastic response from critics before winning the UBS Audience Award. Lagaan - which runs at 223 minutes - is widely seen as India's probable entry for t
  • Monsoon Wedding

    Dir: Mira Nair. India. 2001. 115mins.Since the late 1980s, Mira Nair has acted as the official face of Indian cinema in the West. Most high-frequency cinemagoers in Europe and the US will have seen at least one of Nair's trio of exportable Indian features: Salaam Bombay! (1988), Mississippi Masala (1991) and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996). Although Bollywood itself is beginning to make a pitch for the non-Asian market with films such as Ashutosh
  • Moore heads Fox's theatrical and home video units

    Twentieth Century Fox has united its international theatrical and international home video units under the supervision of Stephen Moore, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment International for the past four years. In his new position as president of Twentieth Century Fox International, Moore will continue to oversee the international home entertainment unit and gain oversight of Fox's international theatrical marketing and distribution operations. Scott Neeson, presiden
  • Movieweb plans 12 Italian films per year

    Movieweb, the Italian production company which has backed producer Rita Rusic's latest movies after her split from husband Vittorio Cecchi Gori, has revealed plans to become the country's leading production outfit with its bid to boost its production slate to 12 movies a year. Movieweb, which is managed and funded by the Livolsi convergence fund, was set up in 1999 by Ubaldo Livolsi, head of the Milan managing bank Livolsi & Partners, with a budget of Euros 50m to be invested in film p
  • Objects and Bunuel open and close San Sebastian

    Rose Troche's The Safety Of Objects and Carlos Saura's Bunuel And King Salomon's Table (Bunuel Y La Mesa Del Rey Salomon) will open and close, respectively, the official section of the 49th edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 20-29).Troche's drama, an adaptation of several short stories by writer AM Homes, is set in New York and stars Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney and Jessica Campbell. Veteran Spanish director Saura's film is a fictional t
  • Oldenburg reveals festival line-up

    Ralf Huettner's romantic comedy Mondscheintarif will open this year's Oldenburg International Film Festival (September 5-9) which will also feature the world premieres of Salome Breziner's Fast Sofa, Richard Stanley's The Secret Glory, and Sheree Folkson's Gypsy Woman . Oldenburg will also feature new films by German filmmakers Claus Strobel (Das Glueck Sitzt Auf Dem Dach), Isabel Kleefeld (Schluss Mit Lustig) and Andreas Samland (Der Neue H
  • RAI accused of monopolising Italian distrib sector

    On the weekend that it released its first ever title, RAI Cinema and StudioCanal's new theatrical offshoot 01 Distribuzione was accused of "unfairly monopolising" the [Italian] distribution sector.The charges, made by Giampaolo Sodano, president of the national distributors association, UNIDIM, and Aurelio De Laurentiis, president of indie distributor FilmAuro, have been the biggest source of controversy so far during the Venice film festival. Sodano called for RAI to be prevent
  • Rai cinema seeking European production partners

    Confirming its intention to build up a solid international presence, Italy's Rai Cinema announced that it is actively seeking European co-production partners in Germany, Spain and France. Giuliano Montaldo, chairman of Rai Cinema, the Rome-based film arm of public broadcaster Rai Cinema, said the company plans to announce a European project in 2002. Montaldo also said the company may eventually co-produce an Italian film with StudioCanal, its partner in its fledgling Italian distributi
  • REP's Sheffield to join Hoyts' Oz distribution arm

    Richard Sheffield, of Australia's REP Film Distribution, is believed to be joining the newly-formed Hoyts Distribution, with responsibility for international acquisitions, although neither party would confirm the move. Sheffield, one of the original founders of REP Films in 1987, left the company eight years later to establish the Australian subsidiary of Polygram, which had previously distributed through REP. He subsequently re-joined REP six months ago, replacing Mark Gooder who is n
  • Russia to double film industry grant next year

    The Russian Ministry of Culture has announced that it will double the amount of government funding for the film industry next year. The Ministry of Culture budget for 2002 will include $60m for film, 70% of which will support film production with the remaining 30% allocated for the funding of festivals and other film industry activities.Alexander Golutva, former minister of the now defunct Ministry of Cinematography, and now responsible for the cinema department at the Ministry of Cult
  • San Sebastian unveils new awards

    Legendary British actress and singer Julie Andrews will be the recipient of San Sebastian's Donostia Award at this September's 49th edition, the festival announced Monday.In the final weeks running up to its September 20 start date, the festival also unveiled the line-up and a newly created award for best Latin American film in its Made In Spanish section. The award is worth close to $5,500 (pts1m).New festival director Mikel Olaciregui says the creation of the award "shows what
  • Sandrew wins case against A.I. certification

    Nordic distribution major Sandrew Metronome has won a court appeal against the decision of the Swedish State Board of Censors, which would have prevented children under the age of15 from seeing Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence. As a result of the court ruling, the film now has an 11-rating which means children as young as seven can be admitted if accompanied by an adult. This is the same rating that the film got in neighbouring Denmark, while the British Board of F
  • Screen International box office charts

    Box office charts
  • Shaolin Soccer kicks Rush Hour 2 into touch

    Despite a high-profile marketing campaign, Hong Kong's hottest star, Jackie Chan, was unable to outperform local competitor Shaolin Soccer on their mutual home ground. After 11 days on release, Chan's martial arts action comedy had grossed $1.3m (HK$10.5m) through Sunday August 26, while during the same period Soccer (pictured) scored $3.7m (HK$29m).The local comedy, directed by and starring Stephen Chiau Sing-chi, has now grossed a massive $7.4m (HK$58m) to date
  • Spanish industry mourns veteran Rabal

    Spanish actor Francisco (Paco) Rabal died Wednesday August 29 on his way home to Spain from the Montreal World Film Festival, where he was part of a tribute this week.Rabal was also scheduled to receive a Donostia Award at next month's San Sebastian International Film Festival. The Spanish Festival released a statement mourning the loss of an actor, friend and man who was "always faithful to his ideas and principles [and] will be impossible to forget."Rabal, 75, burst onto the i
  • Studio Ghibli's new film to be directed by rival

    Studio Ghibli, whose Spirited Away is breaking Japanese box office records, has embarked on a new feature, based on Howl's Moving Castle, a children's fantasy novel by British author Diane Wynne. But in a first for the studio, the director is not Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, the two master animators who co-founded the Studio in 1985, but Mamoru Hosoda, a veteran with rival Toei Animation, whose credits includes the popular Digimon franchise. "Yoshifumi Kondo directed
  • Summer Catch

    Dir: Mike Tollin. US. 2001. 104mins. Summer Catch tries to cover a lot of bases: part baseball drama, part bawdy jock romp and part star-crossed romance, it ends up feeling like an Identikit summer movie. An attractive cast led by Freddie Prinze Jr might incite enough audience interest for a modest opening in the US, but the bland, generic feel is likely to bring the box office inning to a quick close. Internationally, the baseball theme will make the film's prospects
  • Taylor in the pink as amFAR raises $700,000

    All eyes were on the glowing, pink-attired Elisabeth Taylor, at the second glittering AmfAR gala to be held during the Venice film festival. The auction of luxury items during the Friday night (Aug 31) event raised more than $700,000 in support of the American Foundation For AIDS Research, organisers confirmed after the dinner, which was held at the exclusive Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the island of San Giorgio. The climax of the event was the auction of a $20,000 white gold nec
  • UK Box office

    Studio revenues in India are predicted to double over the next five years as the territory begins a period of rapid growth, both in terms of cinema infrastructure and production investment.According to a new report, Bollywood: India's Film Industry, from UK-based industry analysts Dodona Research, production investment will rise 70% over the next five years, Indian film industry export revenues will climb 120% over the same period and foreign films' theatrical rentals in India w
  • UK's Film Council looks for European partners

    The UK's Film Council is eager to collaborate with other European film funding bodies in the fields of development and nurturing filmmaking talent. The first collaborative venture is already being prepared by the Fund with France's CNC on the making of a series of shorts to be shot in both the French and English languages. Speaking this week at the Babelsberg 2001 conference, Paul Trijbits, director of the Film Council's New Cinema Fund, declared that "at the moment there is plenty of
  • US studios protected from online competition

    Hollywood studios planning to sell online movie downloads got good news last week in a report by the US Copyright Office on the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act The report, requested by Congress to assess the effects of the Act, saw no need to extend the so-called 'first-sale doctrine' to cover copyrighted works online as well as in the analogue world. In the analogue realm, the doctrine allows video retailers and libraries to rent cassettes and DVDs they have bought legally
  • Warner gets distribution of New Line in Germany

    New Line Cinema has confirmed that it is finalising a deal for German distribution of its films through 2002 and 2003 with sister company Warner Bros. The arrangement will replace New Line's current German deal with financially troubled independent Kinowelt. The Kinowelt deal expires at the end of this year after the release of the first film in New Line's The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Rolf Mittweg, president and COO of worldwide distribution and marketing for the company, said