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5 December 2001

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  • 75th Eurimages supports nine new features

    At its 75th meeting held on 26-28 November 2001 in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe Eurimages fund agreed to support nine feature films for a total amount of Euros 2.7m.The feature films are :Scheme 1 - Assistance awarded mainly on the basis of the project's circulation potentialKedma, Vers l'Orient - Amos Gitaï (French-Israeli)Snowboarder - Olias Barco (French)Trilogie 1 - Theo Angelopoulos (Greek)Scheme 2 - Assistance awarded primaril
  • ABC acquires two Potters for reported $130m

    US TV network ABC has acquired the television rights to Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) and its sequel, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets for a reported total of $130m, making it one of the most expensive such deals in TV history.The deal gives ABC all non-pay TV rights to the two movies, comprising a 10-year license for each film.Since opening with a record-setting box office take of $90.3m the weekend befo
  • Amelie walks off with European film academy crown

    As widely anticipated, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie was the big winner at the 14th European Film Awards in Berlin's new Tempodrom venue on Dec 1, taking home four separate prizes, comprising: best European film, best director, cinematographer as well as the people's choice award for best director.Indeed, it was very much French cinema's night with best European actress going to Isabelle Huppert for her role in La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher), Juliette Binoche received the
  • Angel first of new distribution deals for Scanbox

    The former Danish entertainment company Scanbox has signed a new deal for theatrical distribution with Mogens Glad's independent outfit Angel Films. While the current deal only covers Denmark, Scanbox is expected to announce similar agreements for the other Nordic countries. Since Jan 2000 UIP has handled the theatrical distribution of Scanbox titles in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, but that deal ran out in October. The new distribution outfit, called Angel Scanbox Distribution,
  • Bank files insolvency suit against Kinowelt

    The embattled German media group Kinowelt Medien reported that the restructuring measures aimed at streamlining operations had an "adverse effect" on its results for the first nine months of 2001.In an official communique, the company reported that the termination of the Warner Bros film package deal this week had caused a three-digit million burden which had to be added to the losses of Euros 160m already recorded in the six-month report in August, thus giving an EBIT at the end of t
  • Benicio Del Toro to receive Sundance Indie tribute

    Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro will receive the Piper-Heidsieck Tribute to Independent Vision at next year's Sundance Film Festival. The tribute, which will be presented to Del Toro on Jan 13, 2002, during the festival, was created to honour a film artist "who has made a significant and unique contribution to independent film."Del Toro won the Oscar last year for Best Supporting Actor in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic. His other film credits include Christopher McQuarrie's
  • Berlin unveils Premiere First Movie Award

    A new prize for first-time feature filmmakers is to be introduced at the forthcoming Berlin International Film Festival (February 6-17, 2002) in collaboration with the Premiere World digital pay TV platform.The "Premiere First Movie Award", which will given to the best debut film by a jury of five well-known international personalities, will open to films showing in the Official Competition, Panorama, Forum, Kinderfilmfest and Perspektive Deutsches Kino. In addition to sponsorin
  • Breillat's Scenes Intimes pre-sold before finished

    Catherine Breillat's latest project, Scenes Intimes, which started shooting on Nov 19, has already attracted the attention of foreign distributors on the strength of the successes of Romance and A Ma Soeur! (Fat Girl).Scenes Intimes - produced, like Romance and Fat Girl , by Flach Films and starring Anne Parillaud (best-known for her award-winning performance in Luc Besson's Nikita) and Gregoire Colin - will wrap in January and post-prod
  • Chung, Yeoh launch multimedia Han dynasty

    A new film by Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau is set to head the slate of Han Entertainment, the new multi-media company established by Thomas Chung, the colourful former head of Media Asia, and Michelle Yeoh.The film, Hua Mulan, is currently in advanced development and is written by Huang Wei Ling, co-screenwriter on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Described by Chung as "Braveheart meets Ran", Hua Mulan is the story of the life of the legendar
  • Colombia considers new film tax proposals

    The Colombian government is considering a proposal that would see the current revenues raised from a tax on cinema tickets redirected into a film fund which would feed loan advances, minimum guarantees and co-production money to finance local productions in Colombia.Seventy percent of the new fund would be allotted to local film production, with the remaining 30% going towards the administration of the fund and for incentives aimed at encouraging the distribution and exhibition of loca
  • Columbia TriStar snags Chan-starrer Highbinders

    Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group (CTMPG) has acquired worldwide distribution rights excluding Asia and France to Highbinders, the latest Asian-financed action adventure to star Jackie Chan. The film, which is backed by Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG), recently wrapped a portion of its shooting schedule in Ireland and is now moving to Hong Kong and then Thailand for additional principal photography.The epic film teams Chan with an international cast including Lee Evans, Clair
  • ContentFilm buys Wendigo, Magnolia to release it

    ContentFilm, the New York independent recently formed by Edward R Pressman and John Schmidt, has acquired worldwide rights to Wendigo, a supernatural thriller starring Patricia Clarkson, and has enlisted Eamonn Bowles' brand new distribution outfit Magnolia Pictures to distribute it in the US.Written, directed and edited by Larry Fessenden, a film-maker as well as an actor with credits such as Session 9, Bringing Out The Dead and Animal Factory, Wendigo
  • Controversy looms at Italy's state-backed orgs

    A high ranking member of Silvio Berlusconi's Italian government has openly criticized Cinecitta Holding's decision to appoint Antonio More managing director of state-run distributor Istituto Luce, after president Angelo Guglielmi stepped down last week. Leading Italian daily La Repubblica quoted Culture under-secretary Nicola Bono as saying: "The fairness which the government has demonstrated so far towards organisations whose management had been appointed by the preceding left-wing go
  • Cuckoo wins 2001 Oscar Moore script prize

    This year's Annual Oscar Moore Screenwriting Prize of £10,000 has been won by Marcus Lloyd for his dark, urban thriller Cuckoo.Launched in 1997, The Oscar Moore Foundation is supported by the British film industry and administered by film trade bible Screen International. Set up in memory of Screen's late editor-in-chief and Guardian columnist, whose fight against AIDS was recently brought to the stage in London's Drill Theatre by Malcolm Sutherland, its aim is to recognise and
  • EM.TV re-enters programme production

    Following its radical programme of restructuring under the new CEO Werner Klatten, EM.TV & Merchandising is now planning to re-enter the arena of production in the field children's and family programming.In future, the Munich-based company intends to be involved annually in up to six animated or live-action series geared to teenagers as well as younger children. At present, EM.TV is serving as a co-production partner on the animated series Old Tom, Tabaluga III, The World Of
  • Everett set to be crowned king in Cromwell biopic

    Rupert Everett is in final talks to play King Charles I, the despotic British monarch who ill-fatedly believed in the "divine right of kings", in Mike Barker's English Civil War story Cromwell And Fairfax.Everett joins Tim Roth and Dougray Scott in the $23m IAC Films project that is thought to be the first time this tumultuous period in British history has served as the backdrop for a feature film since Ken Hughes' Cromwell in 1970, which starred Richard Harris as Oliver
  • F.A.M.E. shuts Soundhouse post subsidiary

    German media concern F.A.M.E. Film & Music Entertainment has closed its postproduction subsidiary F.A.M.E. Soundhouse, which has filed for insolvency. The parent company will also now cut back on its operations as a rights trader and expand activities in international co-production.In its report for the first nine months of 2001, the Munich-based concern stated that revenues in the co-production/film licenses division had fallen by 49% compared to the same period last year as rights tr
  • Festival heads criticise industrialisation, press

    At an unprecedented meeting of selectors and officials in Berlin, top film festival directors from three continents bemoaned the industrialisation of festivals and the increasing difficulty of getting press coverage they feel their events deserve. Toronto's Piers Handling described how both Europe's major state-founded festivals and North America's private-backed events had sought media attention in order to expand and flourish. Both kinds have since added market functions and all are
  • German film industry summit set for Dec 7

    The film policy document presented last month by Germany's State Minister for Culture Julian Nida-Ruemelin on proposals for reforms to the film funding infrastructure will be at the centre of the fourth German "Alliance for Film" summit on Dec 7.The Alliance, at the Bavaria Film Studios in Munich, will be attended by representatives from all sections of the film industry, broadcasters and public funding bodies as well as directors, screenwriters and actors.Ahead of the gathering
  • Germany's Senator issues surprise profit warning

    German market analysts have been caught unawares by Senator Entertainment's profit warning for the financial year 2001 - reducing its targetted revenues from Euros 197.1m to Euros 125m-130m and its EBIT from Euros 40m to Euros 2m-5m.As Markus Wallner and Marc Roehder of HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt observed, "the profit warning was very surprising due to the fact that the company confirmed its old targets in October and also confirmed that they were in final negotiations with three TV bro
  • Germany's VIP launches second media fund

    Munich-based private media fund Film & Entertainment VIP Medienfonds is preparing to place its second fund with a volume of between Euros 10m and a maximum Euros 100m.Private individuals will be invited between December 15, 2001 and October 31, 2002 to invest a minimum of Euros 25,000 each into the VIP Medienfonds 2 fund which aims to co-produce internationally marketable features with budgets between $ 2m and $ 15m.So far, among the projects shortlisted by VIP Medienfonds 2 - b
  • Greenaway, Breillat, Seidl topline Cinemart

    New projects by art-house favourites Peter Greenaway, Catherine Breillat, Ulrich Seidl, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Alexandr Sokurov head a strong line-up at the forthcoming Cinemart co-production market in Rotterdam (Jan 27-31, 2002). Underlining Cinemart's ability to put together financing for the top art-house pictures of the year, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Jan 23-Feb 3, 2002) will showcase recent Cinemart beneficiaries which have marked the festival circuit in 2001. They
  • Guglielmi leaves Istituto Luce for joint venture

    Angelo Guglielmi, a veteran of the Italian distribution scene, is to step down from Istituto Luce, where he has been president for the last five years.In the short term he will be replaced by Antonio More, a fellow board member at the state-backed production and distribution operation. But recently appointed culture minister Giuliano Urbani is expected soon to announce a wide-ranging shake up at Istituto Luce and its parent, the Cinecitta studio group. Cinecitta president Felice Laudad
  • Harry flies past $200m, still at the top

    Despite a strong assault by 20th Century Fox of patriotic war actioner Behind Enemy Lines (pictured), Warner Bros held on to the top spot for the third consecutive weekend with its blockbuster Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone which took an estimated $24.1m over the three days.Harry Potter's 17-day total now stands at $220.1m (the film crossed the $200m barrier last Friday, making it the second fastest film to do so behind only Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phant
  • Intercartel increases its co-production activity

    Spain's Valencia-based Intercartel, co-producer of this year's foreign-language Oscar candidate for Venezuela, is stepping up its co-production plans and shaping up as a key player in the growing Valencia media market. "My objective is to make three or four films per year between national and international co-productions," says Intercartel president Miguel Perello, pointing favourably to a government policy which commits to backing at least five feature films per year in the autonomous
  • Italian film distributors unveil their 2002 slates

    Italian state distributor Istituto Luce, whose president Angelo Guglielmi recently stepped down, has unveiled its 2002 distribution slate which includes Wong Kar-Wai's widely anticipated new film 2046, Theo Angelopoulos's upcoming film about Greek exiles, The Weeping Field, and French actor-writer-director Michel Blanc's Embrassez Qui Vous Voulez. Other distributors who unveiled their new slates at the biannual local screenings in Chianciano Terme, Tuscany, included Aurel
  • Italian set designer Donati dies aged 75

    Danilo Donati, Oscar-winner for his costumes for Fellini's Casanova and Zeffirelli's Romeo And Juliet and set designer on Roberto Benigni's current production Pinocchio, died in Rome of heart failure on Sunday Dec 2.Donati, aged 75, had also designed sets for Benigni's Oscar-winning Life Is Beautiful and had won Italian film awards for other works, including Fellini's Ginger And Fred.
  • Japan's Gaga posts $10.8m pre-tax profit

    Gaga Communications, one of Japan's leading distributors, has recorded a pre-tax operating profit of $10.8m (Y1.34 billion) in the fiscal year 2001, ended Sept 30, up by 209% from the previous year. Gaga attributed this increase largely to the success of The Mexican which grossed $21m (Y2.6 billion), and summer blockbuster Hannibal, which grossed $37m (Y4.6 billion), making it the company's second biggest-ever box office hit after The Green Mile, which earne
  • Kastner, Michael team for MiKast Movies

    Milica Kastner, formerly at Helkon SK, has teamed with Yvonne Michael, previously at Phantom Pictures, to form London-based production company MiKast Movies.The company has a debut slate including a remake of the 1969 film Royal Hunt Of The Sun and Darkness Visible, a contemporary thriller set in Hawksmoor's London.Additionally, Traffic Hearts is about four days during a hot London summer, while Mabel is set in the lawless Los Angeles of the 1920's.
  • Kodak to sell its Kino Mir Moscow flagship cinema

    Kodak is selling its landmark central Moscow cinema Kino Mir at the beginning of next year to concentrate on its core business. The sale of the high-profile site which often accounted for a staggering 50% of the total box office profits for the whole of the country, is a sign of improvement in the Russian exhibition business over the last five years. National box office has grown from less than $10m to $50m last year and this year is already 30% ahead of 2000 with the steadily growing economy
  • Lanzarote screenings bask in calendar shade

    The third annual Spanish Film Screenings at Lanzarote (Nov 29-Dec 1) established the event as a valuable showcase for Spanish productions and talent but not a marketplace for closing deals."People see films here; the reaction comes later," said Antonia Nava, head of international sales and co-productions at Filmax.Nevertheless, growing interest in the Screenings has inspired a second Spanish film market to be convened annually during the Spanish Film Festival of Malaga, pushed u
  • Les Boys III unseats Potter in Quebec

    Having been swiftly de-throned in South Africa, Harry Potter's reign at the box office has been truncated in another territory. Quebecois hockey comedy Les Boys III scored a gross of over C$1m ($635,000), the highest-ever opening for a local French-language film at the province's box office. Harry Potter A L'ecole Des Sorciers came in second with $529,000. Les Boys III's three-day total came from 121 screens, another record for the province. Released by Mont
  • Local witch-doctor outperforms Potter's wizard

    Harry Potter has met his match in South Africa. A local film has achieved the seemingly impossible feat of displacing Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone from its pole position immediately upon release - as well as outperforming Potter's opening gross of one week earlier.Mr Bones, (pictured) produced by Videovision Entertainment and distributed by UIP, achieved the all-time biggest opening for a local title in the territory with $289,106 (R2,964,781) fr
  • Loeb & Loeb lawyer Greg Schenz joins Intermedia

    Greg Schenz, formerly of LA entertainment law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP, has joined Intermedia's Los Angeles office as vice president, business/legal affairs. Schenz reports to vice chairman Jon Gumpert and focuses on film finance and talent transactions.As an associate at Loeb & Loeb, Schenz's practice focused on development, production, finance and distribution in film and TV."Greg is an experienced attorney and a savvy dealmaker. We expect Greg to be a valuable addition to the
  • Mad Love (Juana La Loca)

    Dir: Vicente Aranda. Sp-It-Port. 117mins. A costume drama driven by lead Pilar Lopez de Ayala's impacting central performance, Mad Love (Juana La Loca) is Spain's official entry for the foreign language Oscar nominations, having beaten out sexier options such as Penelope Cruz film No News From God and Julio Medem's Sex And Lucia. That official nod, combined with positive critical response, good word-of-mouth and Lopez de Ayala's best actress win at Septe
  • Norway's distributors re-negotiate rental rates

    Norwegian film distributors are attempting to increase local rental rates for their future releases. The current level of film rental charges is regulated by a Film Rental Agreement between local distributors and exhibitors. The current agreement, however, expires on January 1, and is now undergoing active re-negotiation. Early talks have already been disrupted, however, when a proposal from the exhibitors was thrown out by the distributors, who considered the rental charges too low.
  • Ocean's Eleven

    Dir Steven Soderbergh.US. 2001. 116 min.Steven Soderbergh's astonishing artistic renewal, that began three years ago with Out Of Sight and The Limey, and reached anunprecedented height last year with Erin Brockovich (for which he received a directing Oscar nomination) and Traffic (which landed him the coveted prize), begins to show signs of strain and fatigue with Ocean's Eleven, his eagerly-awaited but onlysemi-successful and sporadically e
  • Overseas records fall as Harry conjures up $60.9m

    It was another magical weekend for Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone in the international market, as the Warner Bros film grossed $60.9m in 31 territories on 6,574 prints to bring its total take to $152.75m after just three weekends. Over the weekend, the film opened in 14 more countries and scored estimated admissions of 12.4m people.In Japan, Harry opened on 650 screens and grossed $12.5m over the two days Saturday and Sunday which is an industry record. It also br
  • Pathe, FilmFour take on Resident Evil

    Pathe and FilmFour have acquired UK rights to Resident Evil from Germany's Constantin Film and Intermedia as the second title in their joint buying partnership after K-PAX.Pathe will handle the UK release as the two companies take turns to physically distribute films in the agreement. The two partners will share acquisition and distribution costs and divide profits equally. Written and directed by Paul Anderson, the action horror-thriller is based on the best selli
  • Polish blockbusters dominate local box office

    The appetite of Polish audiences for home-grown blockbusters remains undiminished with Witchman (Wiedzmin), directed by Marek Brodski and produced by Warsaw-based Vision Film Production and Heritage Films, holding the number one position for the second week in a row with a gross of $1.37m (zlo5.7m).The $18m Polish blockbuster Quo Vadis, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and distributed by Syrena Entertainment, also remains strong, comfortably retaining the number two slot af
  • Prague Studios, Barrandov attracting new projects

    Czech upstart Prague Studios unveiled its refurbished stages last week, just in time for filming to start on Vin Diesel actioner XXX, with Rob Cohen becoming the latest director to take advantage of low production costs in the Czech Republic. At the same time, it was confirmed that Children Of The Dune, a six-hour sequel to the Sci-Fi Channel's Dune miniseries, has also been booked in for next year.The renovation of Prague Studios, a former aircraft manufact
  • South African producers team to form D-V-8

    Independent South African producers Jeremy Nathan of Avatar Digital, Joel Phiri of ICE Media and Kobus Botha of Ballistic Pictures have formed an alliance to make up to eight feature films to be produced on digital over the next two years. The alliance, called D-V-8 Films, announced last week that 14 projects have been selected for extensive script development - titles include Does God Travel Second Class' by Bronwen Roberts and Virgin Margaritas by Licinio Azevedo
  • Sundance 2002: the full line-up in detail

    Sundance 2002: the full competition, premieres and World cinema line-ups.DRAMATIC COMPETITIONBARK Dir: KasiaAdamikA comedyabout misfits in which a veterinarian becomes involved with a client, whosewife has begun acting like a dog. Lisa Kudrow plays the vet while Lee Tergensenis the frazzled husband, whose marriage is going to the dogs. Hank Azaria andVincent D'Onofrio also star as does screenwriter/comedienne HeatherMorgan as the canine wife. Propaga
  • Sundance Film Festival sets 79 short films

    The Sundance Institute has unveiled the 79 short films that will play in the Sundance Film Festival next year (Jan 10-20, 2002). American short film under 30 minutes compete for the jury prize which is sponsored by American Express.International short films include:About A Girl (UK) Brian PercivalAfro Deutsch (Germany) AyassiBintou (Burkinabe) Fanta Regina NarcoBurn (Ireland) Reynold Reynolds & Patrick JolleyThe Charnel House (Can
  • The 51st State

    Dir: Ronny Yu. UK/Canada. 2001. 92minsA lurid, laddish, bad ass romp, 51st State is so primed and pumped up that It's almost laughable. A wild-eyed enthusiasm for the delights of bloodshed, body fluids and expletive-filled banter should hit the mark with a target audience of young males who like their entertainment raw and raucous. Muscular, short term domestic returns seem likely, assuming it isn't overlooked in the pre-Christmas rush. Samuel Jackson's box-office potency and
  • 'The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring': Review

    Dir Peter Jackson. US.2001. 179 min.Visually striking, thematically grave, and morally weighty, Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, is a miracle of a movie: a three-hour fantasy-action-adventure that not only faithfully captures the spirit of its respectable source material, the first inJ.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy of books, but also stands tall on its own merits as one of most ambitious movies to have come out of Hollywood in a long
  • Tim Palen joins Lions Gate as marketing chief

    Tim Palen has joined Lions Gate Films as vice president, theatrical marketing, spearheading the marketing of all Lions Gate feature film marketing operations. He will report to Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Film Releasing.Palen comes to Lions Gate from the now defunct Destination Films where he was vice president, creative advertising, working on films such as Drowning Mona, Eye Of The Beholder and Thomas And The Magic Railroad.Before that, he was e
  • Toei records bumper first half, predicts growth

    Toei, one of Japan's leading distributors and exhibitors, has recorded a net operating profit of $10.5m (Y1.3 billion) in the first half of fiscal 2001, ending in September.The increase is largely attributed to the success of Hotaru, a romantic drama starring Japanese screen legend Ken Takakura which grossed $18m (Y2.3 billion) in seven weeks. Although the ninja actioner Red Shadow and Japan's Foreign Film Oscar nominee GO have not been as successful for Toe
  • UK production trend develops into horror

    Don't look now, something spooky is occurring in the UK's development vaults. Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Entertainment this month unveiled a slate of low-budget horror suspense titles with The Hole director Nick Hamm, while rising new directors such as Ratcatcher's Lynne Ramsay and Sexy Beast's Jonathan Glazer are bringing their own takes on the genre. Classic horror brand Hammer is developing projects with director Charles Sturridge, and at Little Bird, former Edin
  • UK's Equity/PACT strike talks break down

    UK producers body PACT on Wednesday called for its members to stick to its own terms for secondary payments for actors after performers union Equity this week went ahead with its strike threat.PACT said talks with Equity over the introduction of secondary payments had broken down and called for independent producers to offer actors up to 2% of net profits rather than the 3% ceiling Equity aims to secure. At the moment, British actors receive a flat fee for their performances even if th
  • Wait-and-see approach to video-on-demand

    The introduction of video-on-demand will not be an overnight revolution, but will take place gradually over the next five years. Globally, just 26 million households will be capable of accessing VoD services by 2005, with the vast majority - 83%, located in the USA. According to Screen Digest's Video On Demand report, published this week, this means that 22% of US television households will have access to VoD by 2005. Elsewhere, Singapore will be the leader in the Asia Pacific region,
  • World mourns death of Beatle George Harrison

    Tributes from around the world have been pouring in for former Beatle and film producer, George Harrison who died, aged 58, following a long illness.Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying that the Queen was "very sad" to hear the news, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair said "I think people will be very sad at his death."Aside from his reputation as Beatles guitarist, Harrison was also co-founder of Handmade Films, the UK production company responsible for a string of