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Screen
6 August 2000

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  • American Psycho to open Sitges fantasy fest

    Mary Harron's American Psycho has been chosen to open the 33rd edition of the International Film Festival of Catalonia (Sitges 2000), in Sitges, Spain, which takes place October 4-14.The film, which screens in competition in the Fantasy section of the festival, arrives at Sitges after appearing at Sundance, the Berlin film festival and the German Fantasy Filmfest. Columbia TriStar is handling distribution of the film in Spain.Sitges 2000 will also include an animation sec
  • Artisan buys Hegedus/Pennebaker doc Startup.com

    Artisan Entertainment has acquired Startup.com, the new documentary from veteran film-makers Chris Hegedus (The War Room, Moon Over Broadway) and DA Pennebaker (The War Room, Don't Look Back, Monterey Pop) in collaboration with first-timer Jehane Nouhaim. The film follows the development, growth and triumphs of an internet startup - govWorks.com, a private company which collaborates with government to provide a wide variety of internet-based services
  • Austar expands offering with Two Way TV

    Australian pay-TV operator Austar is adding a local version of popular interactive UK TV channel Two Way TV to its line-up starting from October.However, the service will initially be one-way as it will not allow users in different locations to compete with each other until there is improvements to Austar's bandwidth capabilities. One of the games will have a movie theme, but those most likely to drive viewers to the channel's web-site will be built around big prize money. The T
  • Australian Film Finance Corp shuffles board

    Roger Amos, Australian head of KPMG's Information, Communications and Entertainment Group, has been made deputy chair of the Australian Film Finance Corporation, 15 months after being first appointed to the board. Muriel's Wedding producer Lynda House has been reappointed for a further term while Robyn Kershaw, producer of this year's box office hit Looking For Alibrandi, has been appointed for the first time.
  • Australia's Ten in talks for New Zealand buy

    Australia's Ten Network is reportedly in talks with Canadian parent company CanWest Global Communications about buying CanWest's two New Zealand television stations TV3 and TV4, and its NZ radio assets.The deal looks increasingly likely because it would help CanWest reduce debt following its recent purchase of the publishing assets of Conrad Black's Hollinger International. CanWest would still have a share of NZ profits through its 57.5% interest in Ten.Meanwhile, Ten and Villag
  • Big Brother no longer hangs over Helkon

    Endemol Entertainment, the Dutch TV production giant responsible for the worldwide Big Brother phenomenon, has sold its 25% stake in Helkon Media, setting the German producer-distributor free to pursue its own international expansion.Endemol said the move was part of a "strategic reorientation" of its activities that would focus the group more on its Television Production and Endemol.com operations and away from handling third party content as a licence trader. The company recen
  • Brazil's Globo considers IPO

    Brazilian media empire Globo is mulling an initial public offering of a minority stake in the group if Brazil's parliament passes legislation allowing foreign companies to invest in the country's media.The Brazilian Congress is scheduled to vote next month on a bill that would enable foreigners to acquire up to 30% of traditional media companies. The share offer is likely to be worth several billion dollars. Mexico's Televisa, which has lower revenues than Globo, has a market ca
  • Clark, Van der Werff, Bachmann upped at CTFDI

    In the wake of Duncan Clark's departure from Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI), parent company Sony Pictures has promoted three senior executives in CTFDI's marketing department.Nigel Clark, formerly senior vice president of international marketing, has been promoted to executive vice president, international marketing. Susan van der Werff, formerly vice president, publicity and promotions, has been upped to senior vice president, publicity and promotions; and M
  • Constantin rings up $43m in video, TV sales

    Germany's Constantin Film has sold a package of free TV, pay-TV and video/DVD rights to broadcasters such as Kirch Media and ZDF and video companies VCL Film + Medien and BMG Video for a total $42.5m (DM90m).Constantin licensed video/DVD rights to a total 15 films in two packages. VCL took a package including Edward Norton's Keeping The Faith, Jackie Chan-starrer Shanghai Noon and sci-fi thriller Mission To Mars. The second package, which went to BMG, includes Jean
  • Cubbyhouse clocks up sales; adds Leonard to cast

    Beyond Films has sold Murray Fahey's Australian thriller Cubbyhouse, which goes into production on August 7, to a raft of Asian distributors including Mongkol Cinema in Thailand and Global Film Distributors in India.The film has also gone to Speeding Video Distribution in Malaysia, Sunny Films in Singapore and World Television Corporation in Japan. US rights were previously sold to Trimark Pictures.In addition, Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project) has joined th
  • De Villiers joins Video Networks board

    Etienne de Villiers, former president and managing director of Walt Disney International for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, has joined burgeoning VoD company Video Networks as a non-executive director.The move comes as the operation is expanding film activities with recent deals with US studios including Buena Vista International Television and Columbia TriStar International Television. Video Networks also has an alliance with UK distributor Downtown Pictures for independent films
  • dotcom report: MPAA fights Napsterisation

    To the music industry, the enemy's name is Napster; to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the current scourge is Scour.com.Last week, Napster won an eleventh hour reprieve from an injunction that would have shut it down - the case will be heard in late September - but two other cases are wending their way through US courts, both with important ramifications for the motion picture industry.In the first case, which is awaiting a New York judge's verdict, the MPAA is
  • Edinburgh lines up leading players for Film UK

    Film Council chief executive John Woodward, FilmFour head Paul Webster and producers Andrew Macdonald and Duncan Kenworthy are amongst the UK industry heavyweights taking part in panel discussions on the local film sector at the upcoming Edinburgh International Film Festival.The seminars, part of the festival's bid to raise its profile with the film industry, will include a panel discussion titled The State of the British Film Industry: A Nation Mourns. Held under the banner Film UK, d
  • Endemol sells stake in Spanish internet portal

    Dutch production outfit Endemol Entertainment is to sell its 25% stake in Spanish-language internet portal Telepolis.com to one of the company's major shareholders.In a statement, the company said that following its acquisition by Spanish telecoms and multimedia giant Telefonica, the "synergy benefits of a stake in a company like Telepolis will disappear". Telefonica is a major shareholder in Terra Networks, currently the largest internet service provider in the Spanish and Portuguese-
  • Film Council set for funding boost

    UK film body the Film Council stands to get the lion's share of a $3m (£2m) boost in annual government funding.The funding, announced by the government as part of last month's spending review, is expected to be split between the Film Council and the National Film and Television School (NFTS). The recently-launched Council currently receives about $31.5m (£21m) a year in funding direct from the government, most of which is channelled into its cultural wing, the British Film Institute.
  • FINANCIAL BRIEFS

    SOGECABLE REPORTS 25% SALES INCREASEMADRID: Spain's Sogecable saw revenues increase by 25% to $440m (PTS77.1bn) in the first six months of 2000 compared to the same period last year. The company, whose shares have gained in value by more than 80% since their debut on the Spanish stock exchange in July 1999, plans to invest more than $122m in TV and cinema production during 2000.Juan SanchezKIRCH MEDIA PRE-TAX PROFIT UP 41%BERLIN: Kirch Medi
  • Forever Lulu

    Dir: John Kaye. US. 1999. 95 mins.Prod co: Green Moon. Co-prod: Tani Cohen. Int'l Sales: Nu Image/Millennium Films, tel: (1) 310 246 0240. Exec prods: Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Willi Baer. Prods: John Thompson, Boaz Davidson, Diane Sillen, Abra Edelman. Scr: Kaye. DoP: Brad Milsap. Prod des: Stephen Lineweaver. Ed: Alain Jakubowicz. Music: Serge Colbert. Main cast: Melanie Griffith, Patrick Swayze, Penelope Ann Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levin, Richard Schiff, Michael J Po
  • Fox Searchlight buys Al Pacino's Chinese Coffee

    Fox Searchlight Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to Al Pacino's second directorial effort Chinese Coffee which stars Pacino, Jerry Orbach, Susan Floyd and Ellen McElduff. The company also had worldwide rights to Pacino's Looking For Richard - a semi-documentary study of Shakespeare's Richard III - which grossed $1.4m in 1996/7.The film, written by Ira Lewis, follows a winter's night conversation between a struggling Greenwich Village writer and his mentor (Pacino a
  • Fox to launch Norwegian distribution arm

    20th Century Fox is continuing its expansion in Scandinavia with the launch of a Norwegian distribution arm, at the same time ending a long-term output agreement with local independent distributor KF.The move follows Fox's launch of a joint distribution venture with Scandinavian distributor SF in Finland earlier this year (Screendaily, January 19). Fox already has its own distribution operation in Sweden, while in Denmark Fox films go out through Constantin.The Norwegian
  • Gabriel rises to commercial challenge

    Hong Kong-produced films racked up $61m (HK$475.98m) at the local box office in 2001, according to industry body, the Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA), an impressive 24% increase on the previous year. The growth comes despite a decrease in the number of films screened. 133 locally produced films were released in Hong Kong in the year to December 26, 2001, compared to 155 the previous year. Local product accounted for 47% of the total box office up from 42% in 2000. Tot
  • Gianopulos, Rothman take reins at Fox

    Following a recent tradition of promoting from within, Fox Filmed Entertainment has named two joint successors to studio chairman Bill Mechanic - former president of 20th Century Fox Film Group Tom Rothman and former president of 20th Century Fox International Jim Gianopulos. The appointments were made by Peter Chernin, president and COO of Fox's parent group News Corp and Fox Entertainment Group. The two executives will run the company with equal responsibilities. Rothman will not be
  • Goldbacher signs on for Robber Bride

    Sandra Goldbacher, whose credits include 1998's The Governess, has signed to direct The Robber Bride, for UK outfit The Producers and Canada's FilmWorks. The film, based on Canadian author Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name about sexual power and female friendship, was optioned by FilmWorks. "Sandra knew this novel before I even sent it to her," said The Producers' Jeanna Polley. As a writer has yet to be contracted, the project is not expected to shoot until
  • Granada Film adds WW2 drama to development slate

    Granada Film, the features arm of UK broadcaster Granada Media, is developing World War 2 project Panzer.The UK-based operation has commissioned Jeff Pope and Terry Winsor, the team behind Granada's recently-released Essex Boys, to develop a story outline. The film is to explore the relationships of the crew members of a German Tiger tank fighting in Russia and France. Pope will produce and Winsor direct.Granada's busy development slate also includes an adaptation
  • Hollow Man

    Dir: Paul Verhoeven. US. 2000. 114 mins.Prod co: Columbia Pictures. Worldwide dist: Columbia/Columbia TriStar. Exec prod: Marion Rosenberg. Prod: Alan Marshall, Douglas Wick. Scr: Andrew W Marlowe, based on a story by Gary Scott Thompson & Andrew W Marlowe. DoP: Jost Vacano. Prod des: Allan Cameron. Ed: Mark Goldblatt. Mus: Jerry Goldsmith. Main cast: Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, William Devane, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick.Paul Verhoeven deliver
  • Hollow Man - a clear smash at US box office

    As expected, Columbia Pictures' adult sci-fi thriller Hollow Man topped the box office chart in North America over the weekend - probably one of the most competitive of the summer so far. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, the R-rated film took an estimated $26.8m, which if the figure holds, would mark the biggest August opening ever - higher than last summer's The Sixth Sense which took $26.7m. It also represents the highest opening for a Verhoeven film ever, beating 1990's Total R
  • Indian star Raj Kumar kidnapped by bandit king

    In a series of events that might have been lifted straight out of an Indian movie, Indian actor Raj Kumar has been kidnapped by bandit king Veerappan. The actor, who stars in movies made in the Kannada language, was picked up at gun-point from his farm-house in the forests near the city of Bangalore.Raj Kumar has acted in more than 200 films, including Kannada superhits such as Golden Flower and Milk And Honey, in a career spanning nearly 50 years. He became the fi
  • Israel's Yes signs up first subscribers

    Israeli digital satellite broadcaster Yes, which finally made its much-delayed debut on July 15, has reported that it has connected 10,000 subscribers. The figure is low but the broadcaster's operations have been restricted by an on-going confrontation with the country's cable operators which have been reluctant to share programming. As a result, Yes has focused on rural areas that the cablers consider unprofitable to reach. Yes is broadcasting some 80 channels in packages price
  • Jerome Le Grand gets vp stripes at BVI and BVHEI

    Jerome Le Grand has been promoted from executive director of finance and planning for Buena Vista International (BVI) to the newly created position of vice president, finance and planning, for BVI and Buena Vista Home Entertainment International (BVHEI).Reporting directly to Mark Zoradi, president of BVI and BVHEI, and Lawrence Kaplan, executive vice president and general manager of BVI, Le Grand will be responsible for the finance and planning operations for Europe, Latin America and
  • Kinowelt grabs Rings merchandising rights

    M.R. Kinowelt Merchandising (MRKM), the recently formed joint venture between German mini-major Kinowelt and Munich-based M.R. Merchandising & Retail, has acquired the German merchandising rights to New Line Cinema's upcoming Lord Of The Rings trilogyThe deal makes MRKM the first Lord Of The Rings licensee outside the US. MRKM CEO Marlies Rasl said the German Rings merchandising will include toys, clothing, computer games, calendars and an updated German translatio
  • Klein boards Argentine debut

    Nicholas Klein, who co-wrote and produced Wim Wenders' The Million Dollar Hotel and The End Of Violence, is set to co-produce the feature debut of Argentine film-maker Alejandro Chomski. Chomski, who lived in Los Angeles for four years, has directed nine shorts, three of which were acquired by internet movie web-site, reelshot.com. His debut film, Laila, will be shot in Buenos Aires with principal photography slated for early 2001.The film revolves around a
  • Life As A Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease

    Dir: Krzysztof Zanussi. Poland. 2000. 99mins.Prod co: Tor Film Production. Int'l sales: Mercure Distribution, tel: (33) 1 44 168 120. Scr: Krzysztof Zanussi. Prod: Krzysztof Zanussi. DoP: Edward Klosinski. Editor: Marek Denys. Music: Wojciech Kilar. Art dir: Halina Dobrowolska. Costume des: Jagna Janicka. Sound: Katarina Dzida. Main cast: Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Krystyna Janda, Tadeusz Bradecki. Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi deservedly won the Grand Prix at this year's
  • Media Asia unveils flotation plans

    Hong Kong-based Media Asia is on course for a stockmarket flotation at the end of the year following last week's cash injection from hotels to internet group eSun. The new finance will underwrite expansion of the group's distribution and production operations. "We wanted a strategic investor, not just a financial one," Media Asia chief Thomas Chung told Screendaily. "With eSun we will jointly develop a portfolio of investments, spanning the bricks and mortar world and the new cl
  • Media Most denies sale to gas giant Gazprom

    Russia's Media Most has denied reports that it is in talks to sell out to key shareholder, state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom.Local media has speculated that Russian president Vladimir Putin is putting pressure on the company to sell Gazprom a bigger stake, in lieu of unpaid debt, following the government's decision last week to drop an embezzlement case against chairman Vladimir Gusinsky. Media Most's flagship NTV station has been openly critical of Putin and the war in Chechnya.
  • Merchant Ivory boards Babenco's Independent People

    Merchant Ivory Productions (MIP) has joined with Iceland's Pegasus Pictures to co-produce an adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning novel Independent People which Hector Babenco will direct from a script by long-time MIP collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.Icelandic producer Snorri Thorisson beat off stiff competition, both local and international, to option rights to Halldor Laxness' 1930s novel which has appeared on best seller lists around the world. Leonard Shrader, who co-wrote Babenco's
  • MGM snaps up package of Allen titles

    Bolstering its position in the library film sector, MGM has bought a package of 11 Woody Allen films. The titles were those made between 1982 and 1992 under the studio's production arrangement with Orion Pictures and include A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose Of Cairo, Radio Days and Zelig. MGM is buying all rights in perpetuity. Including a clutch of eight from United Artists, the new package takes MGM's Allen collection
  • MI:2 pushes Gladiator off top spot in France

    Mission: Impossible 2's opening in France last Wednesday scooped an impressive $6.8m in its first five days. Playing on 769 screens across the country, the John Woo-Tom Cruise picture pulled in 1,312,595 admissions ousting Gladiator from its five-week rule at the top of the box office chart. Although this is one of the highest openings this year, it further emphasises the huge opening of Taxi 2 in April when Luc Besson's production broke the five-day gross record
  • Momentum appoints Withey to run expanded video arm

    Momentum Pictures, the UK joint venture of Canada's Alliance Atlantis and Germany's Kinowelt, has appointed Conrad Withey to oversee the operation's recently-expanded video retail activities.Withey, who takes up the newly-created post of director of retail video and acquisitions, joins from Universal Pictures International, where he was vice president of programming. He was previously head of programming at PolyGram Video UK.Withey's appointment follows Kinowelt's acquisition of
  • Montreal's Telescene faces cash crunch

    Montreal-based film and television producer Telescene Film Group is running out of cash credit and may be unable to finance its autumn television production slate. The company has been seeking a backer - it says it needs $24m to meet its obligations - so far without luck. Now, having exhausted its line of credit, it is rumoured to be searching for a buyer. Analysts questioned whether anyone would be interested in Telescene given its nearly $47m in debt. First quarter results showed a l
  • Murdoch lines up Sky Global partners

    Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is reportedly close to acquiring a minority stake in Kirch Media, raising speculation that the German media giant will in turn become a shareholder in Murdoch's proposed international pay-TV platform Sky Global Networks. Telecom Italia may also take a stake in Sky Global in return for its 50% stake in Italian pay-TV platform Stream.According to German newspaper Suedeutsche Zeitung, News Corp is paying up to $236m (DM500m) for a small percentage
  • Norway's Zwart to direct Wolff for Universal

    Norwegian director Harald Zwart has been signed to direct Universal's Wolff And Byrd, also known as Supernatural Law, based on Batton Lash's comic-book about two lawyers who specialise in macabre cases.Zwart recently finished his US directing debut One Night At McCools, starring Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon and Michael Douglas, for USA Films. He came to international attention with Swedish production Hamilton starring Peter Stormare, Mark Hamill and Lena Olin. The
  • Nutty Professor II is huge with $42.7m opening

    Universal enjoyed a much-needed box office boost - the first since news of its takeover by Vivendi - over the weekend with the opening of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, one of the summer's more predictable hits. With an estimated $42.7m grossed from Friday to Sunday on 3,243 screens, the film beat the $25.4m achieved by the first Nutty Professor, itself a remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis classic, in 1996.The figure represents the biggest opening ever for its star Eddie Mu
  • Oz distribs choose weapons for exhibitor show

    UIP has chosen to screen Billy Elliot for the hundreds of exhibitors who have booked to go to the annual Australian International Movie Convention, scheduled for August 8-12 in Queensland. Columbia TriStar will be showing off Hollow Man and 20th Century Fox has chosen What Lies Beneath. The two films that the independent distributors are screening at the event are REP's Saving Grace and Sharmill's Innocence. Buena Vista has not yet made its choice pub
  • Pathe launches loyalty card scheme

    French exhibition giant Pathe today launched a loyalty card scheme at its multiplex in Nantes. The scheme, which appears to be a response to the launch of a controversial card scheme by rival exhibitor UGC, is expected to be rolled out nationally.The new card, called Cine A Volonte, will cost the same as UGC's Carte Illimite at FF98 per month and allow unlimited access to Pathe Atlantis. "We reserve the right to extend the scheme to other cities and to the whole of the country,"
  • Perfect Storm rides tide to top of UK chart

    The Perfect Storm washed up at the top of the UK chart this weekend with an opening gross of $3m (£1,920,045) excluding previews of $435,000. The Hollywood adaptation of Sebastian Junger's bestseller of the same name, played at 409 cinemas for a screen average of $8,888 (£5,333). This is a healthy, but not blockbuster, opening for the heavily promoted Warner Bros film starring George Clooney which received a mixed response from critics.Stuart Little slipped to number two
  • Protestors mar Los Angeles Latino fest

    The 4th Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival ended on a sour note July 30 when the entrance to the festival venue, the Egyptian Theatre, was picketed by a radical Latino group protesting against DreamWorks' The Road To El Dorado. Actor and festival president Edward James Olmos narrated the voice of a tribal chief in the animated film about two con-men who attempt to find the mysterious Mayan "City of Gold" in the 1500s. Placards outside the theatre read "Eddie Teaches
  • Romance director turns to period piece

    With a penchant for dealing in subjects sexual there always was a danger of wide exposure for French auteur Catherine Breillat.The director of the controversial film Romance has begun work on The Old Mistress (Une Vieille Maitresse), which is to be produced through Jean-Francois Lepetit's Flach Film. The story is adapted from a novel by controversial 19th century journalist and writer Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, whose tragic stories dealt with violent emotions and were gene
  • Russian authorities drop charges against Gusinsky

    Media Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky left Russia to join his family in Spain last week after the criminal case against him of defrauding the Russian government of $10m was dropped due to lack of evidence.Gusinsky spent four days in prison earlier this year when the charges were first brought against him. As recently as last month, his Moscow suburban mansion and its contents were impounded by the Russian Prosecutor General, a move which Russian authorities said was usual in embezzlement
  • Sega to install video-on-demand in game centres

    Sega Enterprises plans to equip its Net@ chain of game arcades in Tokyo with video-on-demand (VoD) systems developed by NEC and linked via fibre-optic cable.Each Net@ game centre will be supplied with a server able to store up to 120 hours of films and other video software. Sega claims that customers will be able to view films they have selected within seconds.Sega recently struck a partnership with Japanese production outfits Omega Pictures and Suncent CinemaWorks to promote an
  • SF Norge mulls lawsuit against Oslo Cinema chief

    Norwegian distributor SF Norge is considering suing Oslo Cinema managing director Ingeborg Moreaus Hansen after she launched a blistering attack on Liv Ullmann's latest picture Faithless in the Norwegian daily Dagsavisen.Hansen describes Faithless as "banal and speculative" in an interview with the paper, and accuses Ullmann of making a "too private film about herself". She also draws parallels to Bergman and Kubrick, who she describes as "two intellectual geniuses
  • Sharman to take Murdoch role at BSkyB

    Mark Sharman is to effectively replace Elisabeth Murdoch at UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB as director of broadcasting and production.BSkyB confirmed that the head of broadcasting operations would take the post, giving him ultimate responsibility for all production including features. James Baker will oversee features arm Sky Pictures, which Will Turner will continue to head. David Bergg is taking control of TV production through Sky Productions.The restructuring follows Murdoch
  • Sky Pictures adds to team, unwraps Angel

    UK satellite operator BSkyB has bolstered staff at feature arm Sky Pictures and unveiled John Irvin's contemporary thriller The Fourth Angel, one of its biggest projects to date.Sky has appointed Emma Berkofsky and Chris Brock to the newly-created roles of head of development and senior business and legal affairs executive respectively. Berkofsky was formerly head of development at London-based Alchymie and British Screen Finance, while Brock joins from the legal affairs departm
  • Sony launches joint venture with Panavision

    Sony Corp has taken an 8% stake in film equipment manufacturer Panavision, worth $10m, and plans to establish a joint venture with the company to develop and market high-definition digital video cameras to the Hollywood studios and other film production companies. Headquartered in a Los Angeles suburb, Panavision recorded sales of $220m in 1999, much of which came from renting Panavision cameras and other equipment to film companies. Sony has an option to acquire a further 8% in
  • Space Cowboys

    Dir: Clint Eastwood. US. 2000. 129 mins.Prod co: Malpaso, Mad Chance Productions, Warner Bros, Village Roadshow Pictures/Clipsal Films. Worldwide dist: Warner Bros/Village Roadshow. Exec prod: Tom Rooker. Prod: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Lazar. Scr: Ken Kaufman, Howard Klausner. DoP: Jack N Green. Prod des: Henry Bumstead. Ed: Joel Cox. Mus: Lennie Niehaus. Main cast: Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, James Garner, James Cromwell, Marcia Gay Harden, William Devane, Lor
  • Spanish market regulator clears Villalonga

    Spanish stock market regulator CNMV has, as expected, dropped all charges against former Telefonica chief Juan Villalonga of insider trading.In an official statement, the CNMV said there were no facts or circumstances to justify any sanction for the illegal use of insider information. Telefonica shares lost 3.67 points on the Spanish stock market yesterday in reaction to the news.Villalonga resigned from Telefonica last week after a four-year run at the Spanish conglomerate duri
  • Star inks output deal with Media Asia

    Star TV has signed a five-year output agreement with Media Asia granting it exclusive pay-TV and internet rights to the Hong Kong-based company's films. The deal was signed today (August 3) by Star TV chairman and CEO James Murdoch and Media Asia group managing director Thomas Chung.Territories covered by the deal include China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, but not Japan or Korea, traditionally lucrative markets for Media Asia which the company wanted to
  • Star to launch classic movies channel in India

    Star TV plans to launch a classic Hindi film channel, Star Gold, in India on August 15.The News Corp-owned broadcaster has reportedly acquired a library of around 500 Hindi films for the launch which kicks off with Indian classic Mugul E Azam, described as a Hindi Gone With The Wind. The channel will broadcast six to eight films a day along with the music repertoires of famous artists such as KL Saigal. Rights to Hindi classics are sold for a fraction of the $0.5m-
  • Start-up outfit F.A.M.E. teams with Becker

    F.A.M.E. Film & Music Entertainment - the latest German production outfit destined for the Neuer Markt - has sealed a three-year agreement with Australia's Becker Entertainment to jointly develop and produce a raft of features over the next three years. The first project under the agreement will be Esben Storm's $7m futuristic thriller Subterano, set to start shooting in Sydney from August 28 with Australian actors Alex Dimitriades (Head On) and Tasma Walton (Fistful O
  • Telepool takes Swiss rights to Warner Bros package

    German rights trading company Telepool has acquired free-TV rights for German-speaking Switzerland to a package of 80 films from Warner Bros including The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, Three Kings and You've Got Mail. The deal also includes several television series including The Sopranos, Jack & Jill and upcoming series The Fugitive. The deal is a major coup for Telepool, owned by Germany's state broadcasters, which competes with deep-
  • Tykwer makes it twice with Sony Classics

    Run Lola Run filmmaker Tom Tykwer's latest film, The Princess And The Warrior, has been picked up Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) for North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. Although Miramax Films has a first-look deal with Tykwer's and producer partner Stefan Arndt's X-Filme, the New York mini-major apparently passed on the project allowing SPC, which shepherded Lola to a $7.3m domestic box office, to reunite with Tykwer. The new film features
  • UIP seals distribution pact with Spain's Planeta

    United International Pictures (UIP) has added a Spanish link to its rapidly growing chain of international distribution partners, striking a long-term pact with Planeta 2010, the start-up multimedia division of publishing company Grupo Planeta.UIP chairman and chief executive Paul Oneile confirmed that a deal has been concluded with the Spanish operation but declined to reveal further details until an official announcement. The pact is expected to encompass local titles and product fro
  • UPC takes over Czech cable operator Dattelkabel

    Netherlands-based cable operator UPC has taken control of leading Czech cable operator Dattelkabel by acquiring telco Global TeleSystem (GTS)'s 42% stake in the company. GTS spokeswoman Marcela Roflikova told Screendaily that the stock-only deal led to former Dattelkabel shareholder, Dutch Nuon International, selling out of the company completely. UPS had earlier this year purchased 51% of DattelKabel from Nuon.GTS took additional ownership in DattelKabel's former parent,
  • Vatel pushes Gaumont into the red

    The poor box office performance of Roland Joffe's Cannes opener Vatel has sent French major Gaumont spinning into the red with a pre-tax loss of $12.5m (FF89m) in the first half of 2000 compared to profits of $5.1m (FF36m) in the first half of 1999.Gaumont's net loss added up to $14.9m (FF106m) between Jan-June 2000, compared with a profits of $3.4m (FF24m) during the previous half-year. Vatel flopped at the French box office attracting only 541,000 spectators and grossin
  • Winstar acquires US rights to A One And A Two

    New York-based Winstar Communications has acquired North American rights to Edward Yang's A One And A Two (Yi Yi), which picked up the best director award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.Winstar plans to release the picture, which follows three generations of a middle-class Taiwanese family, in October following a tour of the North American festival circuit. The acquisition marks the first North American release for the director whose credits include Mahjong, A Con
  • Wowow subscriber levels reach six-month high

    Japan's Wowow recorded 2,550,874 subscribers at the end of June, the first time the satellite broadcaster has passed the 2.5 million mark in six months. Wowow officials attributed the boost to its Digital Passport promotional campaign which features free sign-ups, fee discounts and live broadcasts of European soccer. However nearly half of Wowow's schedule is still devoted to films, a proportion that has not changed since it began broadcasting on analogue satellite in 1991. Mean
  • Yes teams with Philippines' Sky Vision

    UK video-on-demand (VoD) company Yes Television and Philippines cable TV operation Sky Vision Corporation have pledged $100m over the next ten years to fund a newly-launched joint venture, Yes Sky Interactive Corporation.The venture will offer VoD and interactive TV over the SkyCable network in the Philippines. The partners are conducting trials in Manila during the fourth quarter this year, followed by a commercial service next year.The move comes after Yes secured a subscripti

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