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7 April 2000

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  • A Paradise Under The Stars

    Dir: Gerardo Chijona. Cuba/Spain. 1999. 90 mins.Prod cos: Wanda Film, Institute Of Art And Film Cuba. Int'l sales: Wanda Film. Exec prods: Evelio Delgado, Puy Oria. Prods: Camilo Vives, Jose Maria Morales. Scr: Gerardo Chijona, Luis Aguero, Senel Paz. DoP: Raul Perez Ureta. Art dir: Erick Grass. Ed: Rori Saenz de Rozas. Mus: Jose Maria Vitier. Main cast: Thais Valdes, Vladimir Cruz, Enrique Molina, Daisy Granados, Santiago Alfonso, Jacqueline Arenal.Cuban-Spanish co-produ
  • Afrika to produce Diamonds with De Angelis, Global

    Cape Town-based production outfit, Film Afrika Worldwide, is co-producing two feature-length TV movies, Diamond Hunters, with Italy's De Angelis and German investment fund Global Entertainment.Roy Scheider is set to star in the films, which are based on Wilbur Smith's best-selling novel of the same name. Denis Berry, whose credits include the Highlander television series, will direct. Berry's father, John Berry, directed Boesman And Lena starring Angela Basset and
  • Alliance Atlantis picks up Himalaya

    Alliance Atlantis/Kinowelt has picked up UK rights to Academy Award-nominated Tibetan-language film Himalaya (Caravan) from Alison Thompson's UK-based The Sales Co.The picture, which is directed by Eric Valli, has grossed more than $10m in France since opening in November.Shot in Nepal, the film centres on the struggles of the inhabitants of a hidden village in the Himalayas. The film picked up a nomination for best foreign-lanaguge picture at the Oscars this year.
  • Alliance seeks licence for joint venture with BBC

    Several Canadian entertainment companies including Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, have applied for licences to operate digital specialty channels in the latest request for proposals by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Among Alliance's proposals, which include channels devoted to independent film, books and biographical documentaries, is a partnership with BBC Worldwide to be called BBC Canada featuring the BBC's drama and entertainment programming.
  • Alliance, TV-Loonland strike $75m children's pact

    Canada's Alliance Atlantis Communications (AAC) and Germany's TV-Loonland have sealed a $75m (C$110m) children's content deal covering production, distribution, home video, merchandising, ecommerce and webcasting. As part of the deal, the German children's specialist will sub-distribute or co-produce up to nine children's and animation series with AAC's kids division into 2002, as well as license a further $13.6m from AAC children's catalogue. The partners will focus on giving
  • Artisan promotes Greeman to development VP

    Cybelle Greeman has been promoted to vice president of development at Artisan Entertainment. She will now be responsible for the development of film scripts on the company's slate as well as tracking new material and up and coming talent. She will report to Artisan president Bill Block.Greeman was previously director of development and production for Artisan and was part of the 1999 Sundance Film Festival team which championed the acquisition of The Blair Witch Project. She was
  • Australia's REP buys New Zealand's Scarfies

    Australia's REP Film Distributors has bought New Zealand's second biggest local hit from last year, Robert Sarkies' comedy thriller Scarfies, about a group of students who quickly discover that crime should be left to professionals. Traditionally films do not travel between Australia and New Zealand, despite the two countries being neighbours. Scarfies grossed NZ$1.2m last year, second only to Ian Mune's What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted in the local stakes, and t
  • Barrack heads race for Russian Oscars

    Valery Ogorodnikov's Barrack is heading the field in the race for the Russian equivalent of the Oscars, the Nikas, which will be awarded by the Russian Academy of Motion Picture Arts in Moscow on April 22.Barrack was nominated in 10 categories, including best feature, best director and best screenplay for Ogorodnikov and Victor Petrov. Valery Priyemykhov who wrote, directed and starred in Who If Not Us' received nominations for best screenplay, best director
  • Becker Group signs on for Rowe comedy

    Australia's Becker Group has signed on as international sales agent for producer David Rowe's A$3m contemporary comedy Tempe Tip, scheduled to start shooting in October.REP will handle Australian distribution of the film, while international sales will be contracted out. Michael Ralph is set to direct the project from his own script about a family that finds the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in their own backyard. Rowe, who is also starting production o
  • Beyond, Seven support on-line Evolution

    Two of Australia's biggest content suppliers - Beyond International and the Seven Network - have thrown their weight behind a new high-speed network that plans to pump entertainment and services into Australian homes.Operated by fledgling Australian company Evolution Technologies, the venture plans to concentrate on providing services to high-density housing such as tower blocks.The initial agreement sees Beyond provide 35 hours a week of branded science, technology, information
  • Bird swoops on top prize at Fribourg

    The Bird Who Stops In The Air, by South Korean film-maker Jeon Soo-il, won the top prize at the 20th edition of the Fribourg International Film Festival in Fribourg, Switzerland (March 12-19).Special mention went to Darkness And Light, by Taiwanese director Chang Tso-Chi, while the festival's international jury gave the award for best script to Pablo Trapero's festival favourite Crane World (Mundo Gua). The FIPRESCI international critics jury also gave its award to
  • Bollywood For You plans Indian launch

    Hindi film channel, Bollywood For You (B4U), backed by UK entrepreneur Lakshmi Mittal, is preparing for an ambitious launch in the Indian market in the second half of this year. The seven-month-old channel has already bought domestic TV rights for more than 1,000 films in preparation for its launch in the subcontinent. The Mittal-backed consortium is also poised to launch M4U, a channel devoted to Indian music. The music channel is scheduled to start broadcasting in India on April 12
  • Canal Plus abandons search for Italian partner

    France's Canal Plus has abandoned its search for a local partner for Italian pay-TV platform Telepiu, according to French daily newspaper La Tribune.Canal Plus, which hold nearly 100% of Telepiu, was going to sell a share in the loss-making operator to Italian utilities and communications group Enel. However, the deal fell through when Canal Plus' main shareholder, utilities, communications and media giant Vivendi, struck an alliance with Vodafone AirTouch/Mannesmann. The latter
  • Canal Plus to up investment in Italian production

    Canal Plus and its Italian pay-TV operation TelePiu have pledged to step up their involvement in Italian films by investing L90bn in 2000-2001, compared to L60bn in 1998-1999.The agreement, signed April 6 with Italian minister of culture Giovanna Melandri, is the second step in a two-part deal. The first step was signed January 22, 1998, with Melandri's predecessor Walter Veltroni.TelePiu, which counts 1,500,000 subscribers to date, is to co-produce and pre-buy not only Italian
  • Cineart set to shoot Chytilova's Eden

    Prague-based production outfit Cineart Production is developing the next feature from veteran Czech filmmaker Vera Chytilova - the $450,000 (CKR15m) Expulsion From Eden - which is set to shoot this summer.The project is a tragi-comedy revolving around a medical doctor who is given money by the Russian mafia to make a low-budget film. Cineart's Viktor Schwarz is producing the project and currently seeking co-production finance. Chytilova was banned from film-making for lon
  • CLT-Ufa reports turnaround in earnings

    European broadcast giant CLT-Ufa reported an impressive turnaround in earnings for the 1999 financial year, delivering a euros415m profit compared with a loss of euros14m in 1998. Revenue for the period was up 5% to euros3.21bnCLT-Ufa attributed the improvement to increased profit from its traditional broadcast operations, which include Germany's RTL Television and France's M6, and the move into profit of German station Super RTL.In addition, CLT-Ufa reported decreased losses at
  • Columbia TriStar boards New Zealand thriller

    Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has boarded Scott Reynolds' New Zealand thriller Shearer's Breakfast and taken all distribution rights to the $2.1m film outside Germany and Australia.Starring Radha Mitchell (High Art, Pitch Black) as a young woman whose roadside diner is invaded by a host of menacing criminals, Shearer's Breakfast starts shooting in New Zealand this week. Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group executive vice presidents Clint Culpepper and Peter Schlessel negotiat
  • Comic trio scoop Orange Screenwriting Prize

    The 2000 Orange Prize for Screenwriting has been awarded to three comedies from new British writers: The Alchemist, written by Simon Rose, Feet Up by Ewan Kilgour and The Wedding Gift by Lisa Flett.The three projects, which were chosen from more than 1,000 entries, were awarded a cash prize of £10,000 each.The Alchemist is a family action comedy about a 12-year-old boy who inherits from his grandfather the secret for turning base metal into gold. F
  • Constantin, Impact join forces to build Stonehenge

    Jeremy Bolt and Paul Anderson's UK and US-based production outfit Impact Pictures is partnering with German powerhouse Constantin Film on an adaptation of historical epic Stonehenge 2000 BC.The two companies will jointly produce the picture with Constantin taking worldwide rights in all media. Paul Anderson is to direct subject to script and availability.The project is based on the novel by Bernard Cornwell which is a top five bestseller in the UK. The book, set in England durin
  • Czech film industry slams proposed audiovisual law

    The Czech film industry has attacked the country's impending audiovisual legislation because it contains a dramatically scaled down version of proposed film body, the Czech Audiovisual Centre.The Czech Audiovisual Law, intended to bring the country in line with European audiovisual legislation, gets its second reading in parliament on April 27. In an earlier draft, the law mooted the centre as an autonomous department of the Czech culture ministry, employing 15-20 people. The ce
  • Disney ups Johnson as de Villiers resigns

    The Walt Disney Co. has promoted Michael Johnson to the post of president of Walt Disney International while the overseas outfit's European chief Etienne de Villiers has resigned. Johnson has headed up Walt Disney International, Asia since June 1999. One of his first tasks in his new role will be to find replacements for himself and de Villiers who leaves his post at the end of the month to pursue new media opportunities. De Villiers oversaw the expansion of Disney's international TV o
  • Dunaway to star in story of Diana's biographer

    Faye Dunaway, Paul McGann and Brian Cox will star in The Biographer, a privately-financed British feature film which is due to crank up on March 31.The film traces the events that led former royal journalist Andrew Morton to write his biography of the Princess of Wales, Diana: Her True Story.McGann will play Morton, Cox his publisher and Dunaway a hostile royal journalist.The Biographer will be directed by Philip Saville, whose credits include Metroland
  • Erin beats off DreamWorks' El Dorado

    Universal Pictures' Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts continued to reign atop the US box office this past weekend with a third weekend gross of $14.2m, a slight 23% drop from the previous weekend. Its 17-day total now stands at $76.2m.The critically acclaimed movie, which will open in many key European territories next weekend through co-financier Columbia TriStar, beat off competition from three newcomers - DreamWorks SKG's costly animated picture The Road To El Dorado
  • Film Consortium leads backers on Manchevski's Dust

    Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski goes back behind the camera today, finally going into production in New York on Dust, his long-cherished "epic western" which was originally set up in 1995 as a co-production between Robert Redford's South Fork Pictures and Miramax Films.The movie is now being backed by a host of European sources led by UK Lottery franchise The Film Consortium (TFC) whose chief executive Chris Auty is one of three producers along with Vesna Jovanoska (Sec
  • Film to receive boost at revamped BBC

    Incoming BBC director general Greg Dyke has pledged to create a new film division as part of a far-reaching overhaul of the UK broadcaster. The film operation will come under the auspices of Alan Yentob, the former director of television, who now heads a newly-created division spanning drama, entertainment and children. With Dyke's restructuring aimed at freeing up an extra £200m ($318 million) for programmes next year, the budget for films may also be boosted.Although speculati
  • FilmFour, Whitaker strike production pact

    The UK's FilmFour has partnered with US actor Forest Whitaker and his production company Spirit Dance Entertainment to find, develop and produce projects by black and Asian film-makers.FilmFour will have first look on projects that the two companies work on together. The partners aim to work with established film-makers and newcomers.The move comes after FilmFour scored a runaway hit with British Asian comedy East Is East. FilmFour is handling Ghost Dog: The Way Of The
  • German Film Prize nods for Buena Vista, Hotel

    An unhappy week for German film closed on a more conciliatory note on Friday night with nominations for the German Film Prize evenly spread.Heading the list was Andreas Kleinert's Wege In Die Nacht, Oskar Roehler's Die Unberuehrbare and Tomy Wigand's Fussball Ist Unser Leben with three nominations each. They were closely followed by Thorsten Schmidt's Schnee In Der Neujahrsnacht, Rolf Schuebel's Ein Lied Von Liebe Und Tod - Gloomy Sunday, Pepe Danquar
  • GERMANY: Financial Briefs

    Constantin turnover up 23%Distributor Constantin Film achieved a 23% increase in turnover last year as 1999 revenues climbed from $50m (DM102m) to $61.7m (DM126m). Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) - although negative at a loss of $4.6m (DM9.4m) - were $1.01m (DM2.2m) better than forecast at the time of its flotation last year. Constantin said that indicative results for the first three months of the current year show turnover of $40.7m (DM83m) and EBIT of $4.3m (DM8.8m).
  • Haugesund to open with Norway's Jesus

    Highly-anticipated Norwegian title When I Hit Jesus (Da Jeg Traff Jesus) is to open this year's Haugesund International Film Festival (August 26 - Sep 2). The comedy is produced by one of Norway's most successful film-making teams, Petter Borgli and Thomas Backstroem, whose credits include The Telegrafist, Blessed Are Those Who Thirst and Blind Goddess. The film, which marks the feature debut of Stein Leikanger, is based on one of the country's best-loved bo
  • High Fidelity

    Dir: Stephen Frears. US. 2000. 113 mins.Prod cos: Working Title Films, Touchstone Pictures in association with Dogstar Films & New Crime Productions. Worldwide dist: Buena Vista/Buena Vista International. Exec prods: Mike Newell, Alan Greenspan, Lisa Chasin. Prods: Tim Bevan, Rudd Simmons. Co-prods: DV DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack. Scr: DeVincentis, Pink & Cusack, Scott Rosenberg, based on the novel by Nick Hornby. DoP: Seamus McGarvey. Prod des: David Chapman, Therese DePre
  • Hofer surfaces at BW Film Academy

    Former Studio Babelsberg Independents (SBI) chief Arthur Hofer has been appointed artistic head at the Baden-Wuerrttemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg. He succeeds Albrecht Ade who founded the academy in 1991.Hofer resigned from his Babelsberg post last month citing the resignation of studio boss Friedrich-Carl Wachs as a reason for his departure (Screendaily March 28). Hofer launched a blistering attack on Babelsberg owner, the French utilities and media giant Vivendi, i
  • Human Resources (Ressources Humaines)

    Dir: Laurent Cantet. France. 1999. 100 mins.Prod Co: A La Sept Arte/Haut et Court production with the participation of Centre National de la Cinematographie, Procirep, BBC Films. Int'l Sales: Celluloid Dreams. US sales: Menemsha Entertainment. Prods: Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta. Exec Prod: Barbara Letellier. Scr: Laurent Cantet, Gilles Marchand. DoPs: Matthieu Poirot Delpech, Claire Caroff. Ed: Robin Campillo. Art Dir: Romain Denis. Costume Des: Marie Cesari. Main Cast: Jalil Lesp
  • Info Avenue launches film investment web-site

    Info Avenue, an e-commerce design and consulting company whose shareholders include the Itochu trading house and Sun Microsystems, has launched a web-site for raising film finance from film fans. Called, the site recruits individuals for site-sponsored "support groups" based around specific projects. The "supporters" purchase membership in return for a list of benefits, including tickets to the finished film and access to a dedicated web-site at which they can rece
  • Israeli government gives blessing to third channel

    The Israeli parliament has given the greenlight to the launch of a third free-to-air terrestrial channel in a bid to increase competition in the Israeli television market.According to new legislation, the Third Channel will be operated by two companies. Israel's only existing commercial broadcaster, the Second Channel, is currently operated by three.Companies bidding to operate the channel must not control more than 10% of any other sector of the media, according to the new law.
  • Israel's Doc Aviv launches market

    The Doc Aviv documentary festival (April 21-26) is to host a market for documentary projects looking for co-producers and broadcaster partners. The event's organisers, local documentary body the Israeli Documentary Forum (IDF), have selected 26 out of 87 proposed projects. The successful titles will be showcased to international broadcasters including the BBC, Arte and ZDF and TV-Ontario. The projects will also be invited to Tel Aviv for the Doc Aviv festival. The IDF aims to se
  • Japan to revise broadcasting legislation

    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) plans to overhaul broadcasting and telecommunications legislation in a bid to break down regulatory barriers between the country's broadcasting and telecoms sectors.The MPT plans to make sweeping changes to Japan's Broadcasting Law, Telecommunications Law and NTT Law in a move to encourage convergence. The regulatory body also plans to speed up digitalisation of Japan's communications infrastructure and oversee the introduction of
  • Jim Henson appoints Blake to US development post

    The Jim Henson Company, which was recently acquired by German powerhouse EM.TV, has appointed Juliet Blake as senior vice president, creative affairs at Jim Henson Television.In her new position Blake will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of primetime programming including the development of new comedy and drama series, movies of the week and specials for network and cable. Blake joins Henson from Pearson Television in Los Angeles where she developed sitcoms for the net
  • Jolie to play cyberbabe Lara Croft in Tomb Raider

    Oscar winner Angelina Jolie will play cyber action-babe Lara Croft in Paramount Pictures' live action version of the blockbuster video game Tomb Raider that will start shooting this summer at the UK's Pinewood Studios.Jolie, who recently won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted, beat out such reported contenders as Elizabeth Hurley and Catherine Zeta Jones to land the coveted role of a publishing magnate who becomes a female Indiana Jones as
  • Kadokawa plunders comics for first kids' feature

    Japanese media giant Kadokawa Shoten Publishing is making its first foray into children's features with Fushigi No Tatari-chan (Mysterious Little Tatari), based on a popular Kadokawa comic by Nanako Inuki.Kadokawa plans to release the film, which stars child actress Natxumi Ohira, during this summer's school holiday season. It will be accompanied by two animated shorts, 30-minute Monkore Night and 45-minute Ojaru Maru. Both are based on popular TV shows that were i
  • Kinepolis bullish on expansion despite losses

    Belgian exhibitor Kinepolis Group is planning to open six new multiplexes throughout Europe by December after reaching its legal investment limit in Belgium with 125 screens.The first to open will be the 12-screen Forum Kinepolis in Nimes, France to be followed by an eight-screen multiplex in Ede, The Netherlands in September and a 14-screen complex in Pioltello, Italy in November. The company's biggest push is scheduled for December when it will open 20 screens in Poznan, Poland, eigh
  • London Production Fund launches 2000 funding round

    The London Film and Video Development Agency (LFVDA) has launched the first round of the London Production Fund for 2000. The fund provides grants of up to £15,000 to animation, short film or documentary projects from independent filmmakers living or working in London.Backed by Carlton Television, FilmFour and UK film super body, the Film Council, the fund is looking for "imaginative and innovative teams of writers, directors and producers with well-developed projects and realisable bu
  • Messier keen on Canal Plus, Platco collaboration

    Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier would like to see a link-up between Vivendi-owned Canal Plus and News Corp's planned digital platform, Platco, according to Reuters. Messier stated Thursday, April 6, that a merger between Canal Plus and part News Corp-owned BSkyB - in which Vivendi and Canal Plus have a 24.5% stake - was no longer on the map, but that an alliance with News Corp's global digital venture was a "fair and true industrial question".Vivendi has recently formed a jo
  • Monday

    Dir: Sabu. Japan. 100 mins.Prod cos: CineQuaNon, Cinerocket, Media Factory. Int'l sales: Fortissimo Film Sales (+31 20 627 3215). Prods: Nobuaki Muro'oka, Yoshimi Ishihara, Reiko Arakawa, Takahito Kashino. Scr: Sabu. DoP: Kazuhito Sato. Music: Kei'ichiro Shibuya. Cast: Shin'ichi Tsutsumi, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Ren Osugi, Masanobu Ando.The first three films of Japanese actor-turned-director Sabu (aka Hiroyuki Tanaka) were unforgettable for at least one reason: chase sequences
  • NETHERLANDS: News In Brief

    Endemol takes stake in Italy's PalomarEndemol Entertainment, soon to be acquired by Spanish multimedia giant Telefonica, is taking a controlling 51% stake in Italian film and TV producer Palomar. Endemol, which produces successful format Big Brother, already owns Italian sitcom producer Aran and has subsidiaries and joint ventures in 14 other European countries. The company also owns a 25% share of German film distributor Helkon. Palomar co-founder and managing director Carl
  • New Euro TV powerhouse eyes US broadcasting stake

    Pearson TV (PTV) and CLT-Ufa are to join forces, creating Europe's largest integrated production and broadcast group that now has its eye on North American broadcasting.Friday's merger announcement is the biggest yet in the rapid consolidation of the European television and new media sectors and was accompanied by an on-going commitment to film production and distribution.Billed as a marriage of Pearson's content and CLT's broadcast capacity, the union between these two powerhouses
  • New Line Int'l pacts with newcomer Nexo in Italy

    New Line International (NLI) has closed a round of package deals on its upcoming product and is finalising a new partnership in Italy with start-up distribution company Nexo Pictures.Nexo, which was formed by cinema-owner Ernesto Di Sarro, contingent on the New Line deal, has taken eight pictures initially - Frequency, The Cell, Town And Country, 15 Minutes, Lost Souls, Final Destination, Knockaround Guys and Boiler Room. It also
  • Noiret to receive Cannes Festival Award

    French actor Philippe Noiret is to receive the Festival Award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The festival said it is making the award in order to "pay tribute to the richness, diversity and everlasting life of an extraordinary career."The 69-year-old Noiret will receive the special trophy at a ceremony on Monday May 15 which will also see the screening of Bertrand Tavernier's La Vie Et Rien D'Autre, for which Noiret won the Cesar and European Film Academy awards.Sin
  • Norsk Film set for reform

    The Norwegian film industry is hoping that incoming culture minister Ellen Horn, appointed March 17, will continue with her predecessor's policy to transform state-owned film body Norsk Film into a single independent production fund.Outgoing culture minister Aslaug M. Haga had wide industry support for her proposal that Norsk Film withdraw from direct involvement in production to concentrate on setting up financing for Norwegian films. In an unexpected move, Norsk Film chairman and for
  • Nylon recruits Daldry to shoot Hellfire

    UK-based production company Natural Nylon has lined up Stephen Daldry, director of Cannes-tipped feature Dancer, to direct Hellfire Club about a notorious aristocratic society.The project is set to star Natural Nylon co-founders Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor, Sean Pertwee and Sadie Frost. John Brownlow has written the script.Meanwhile Natural Nylon has also recruited Best Laid Plans director Mike Barker to direct Cromwell And Fairfax from
  • Pia to float to fund digital expansion

    Pia, a privately owned company that operates Japan's largest ticket agency, is planning an IPO by summer 2001 to finance development of a next-generation ticketing service that will relay customer orders via a digital network.Pia, which also publishes Japan's most widely-read weekly entertainment magazine and sponsors its largest and most prestigious independent film festival, is also considering the introduction of employee stock options, still a relative rarity in Japan. The company'
  • Pollock replaces Ashmore at UIP South-East Asia

    UIP has appointed Roger Pollock as vice president, sales for South-East Asia, replacing Steve Ashmore who left the company earlier this week - reportedly as part of a cost-cutting exercise following MGM's withdrawal from the joint distribution venture.Pollock will combine the position with his current role as general manager for Singapore and Malaysia. He will now also oversee Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand as well as lead UIP's activities in Ch
  • Portugal's SIC Filmes unveils debut slate

    Leading Portuguese private broadcaster SIC (Sociedad Independente de Comunicao) has unveiled the remaining seven projects on its debut film production slate of 10 made-for-TV movies. The slate, which nearly doubles Portugal's annual feature film output, was launched in 1999 under the banner SIC Filmes, in association with the national cinema institute ICAM. The first three films on the slate - I Love You Teresa, Monsanto and Knives And Angels - cornered at least a
  • Production report: Hong Kong stages a comeback

    The arrival of US and European financiers and the frenzy ripping through Asia has allayed fears that the Hong Kong film industry is on its way out. With rampant video piracy and declining box-office receipts during the late 1990s, industry analysts predicted a doom and gloom scenario. But the production tide has turned and Asian film-makers are experiencing a renaissance. Even if Hong Kong audiences are not yet flocking back to local pictures, investors certainly are. Th
  • Redbus hoards rights ahead of VoD launch in UK

    The fast-surging UK media concern Redbus Film Group has accumulated a number of studio-level films for its upcoming video-on-demand service through a television package deal struck with German rights broker Intertainment.Intertainment, which has been busy of late concluding several free TV sales across Europe, announced this week television deals in both France and the UK worth a collective $70m.The Redbus deal covers free TV rights to films sourced by Intertainment through its
  • Soldini, Tognazzi lead Italian Davids noms

    Italy's 2000 David di Donatello Awards look set to be a two-horse race as Silvio Soldini's Pane E Tulipani and Ricky Tognazzi's Canone Inverso both scooped nine nominations apiece, including best film, best screenplay and best director.Marco Bechis' Garage Olimpo was also nominated in the three categories, and also picked up nods for best producer and best editing.Nominations for best foreign film are Sam Mendes' American Beauty, Damien O'Donnell's
  • Sony restructures to speed up Internet plans

    Japan's Sony Corp is setting up a US-based holding company, Sony Broadband Entertainment (SBE), to house its movie and music businesses, as part of a plan to speed up exploitation of its entertainment assets on the Internet.Headed by current Sony Corporation of America president Howard Stringer, SBE's core companies will be Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment. However, SBE will not intervene in the internal management of either. "Mr. Stringer is not going to
  • Suzhou wins top honours at Paris Festival

    Suzhou He (Suzhou River), a second film by Chinese film-maker Ye Lou, picked up the Grand Prize at the 15th Paris Film Festival (March 27 - April 3). The film also walked away with the best actress award for Xun Zhou.Suzhou became one of the hottest films at this year's European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, and also won the VPRO Tiger award at January's Rotterdam festival. The Shanghai-set melodrama, co-produced by Germany's Essential Filmproduktion and sold i
  • Taxi 2 becomes France's biggest ever opener

    Taxi 2, produced by Luc Besson's Leeloo Productions and distributed by Arp Selection, has smashed the all-time opening day record in France, attracting a massive 759,152 admissions from 830 screens. Taxi 2 is the highly-anticipated follow-up to 1998 hit Taxi which became the fourth highest grossing hit in France in 1998 after attracting a total of 6.3 million cinema-goers. The sequel, produced on a budget of $10.3m (FFr70m), was expected to be successful but not to
  • Taxi 2 breaks first week record in France

    Arp Selection's Taxi 2 has broken another French box office record, selling more tickets in its first week - 3.48 million - than any other film in French box office history.The record was previously held by another French title - Gaumont's The Visitors 2 : The Corridor of Times, which attracted 2.67 million admissions in its first week in 1998.Before The Visitors 2, another sequel, Steven Spielberg's The Lost World, held the record with 1.99 million a
  • Telefonica delays media subsidiary float

    Juan Villalonga, president of Spanish multimedia giant Telefonica, announced at a shareholders meeting on Friday (April 7) that the company has postponed its planned flotation of audiovisual unit, Telefoncia Media, due to concerns over falling prices for media and Internet stock."Content companies around the world are undervalued and if we continue to grow then we will give a much greater worth to shareholders," Villalonga said. The company instead plans to sell stock in Telefon
  • The Nameless wins Brussels Golden Raven

    Spanish title The Nameless, directed by Jaume Balaguero, was awarded the Golden Raven at the 18th Brussels Festival of Fantasy, Thriller and Science Fiction Films (March 17 - April 1). The prize includes $25,000 (BFr1m) towards the film's domestic or international promotion. The Nameless has previously picked up the European Fantasy Film Festival Federation's Golden Melies award in 1999. Meanwhile, two Silver Ravens, the special jury prizes, went to Stephen Elliot'
  • The Wog Boy sails past A$10m mark

    The Wog Boy, a broad Australian comedy with a strong Greek influence, has passed the A$10m mark at the local box office, and now has only four titles to overtake to make it into the all-time top 10 of locally-produced films.A mainstream film that reaches A$10m is regarded as a hit in Australia although huge blockbusters can exceed A$20m. The Wog Boy only has to overtake four titles to become one of the top 10 highest grossing Australian films - Mad Max II (Warner B
  • Till joins Tiger Aspect board

    Stewart Till, former president of Universal Pictures International, has joined the board of leading UK TV company Tiger Aspect.Till joins the outfit's holding board as a non-executive director and will also take a position on the board of film arm Tiger Aspect Pictures. He joins with immediate effect.The move follows Till appointment last week to the board of directors at UK film-to-Internet operation Redbus Film Group (RFG) in a part-time but executive role.At Tiger, Til
  • UGC acquires Gaumont's Antwerp multiplex

    French exhibition giant UGC is buying rival Gaumont's 17-screen multiplex in Antwerp, Belgium for $22m (FFr150m), as part of its Europe-wide expansion plan kickstarted by the acquisition of the UK's Virgin circuit last year.UGC currently has two multiplexes in Brussels but plans to increase this number to five by next year. "This acquisition is consistent with our current policy of building a strong presence in Belgium," said UGC Belgium operations director Jean-Philippe van Nyen.
  • Universal takes Kinowelt package

    German sales and distribution group Kinowelt Medien has sold a package of 70 films to Universal Studios Networks Deutschland and a further four titles to state-owned free broadcaster ZDF.The pictures licensed to ZDF are Tony Bui's Sundance hit Three Seasons, Neil LaBute's forthcoming Nurse Betty, Pavel Chukhraj's The Thief (Vor) and Michael Winterbottom's Old New Borrowed Blue.The deal with Universal Studios Networks is Kinowelt's first with the chann
  • Via Digital reaches half million subscribers mark

    Spanish digital satellite platform Via Digital has announced that it has reached the half million mark in subscribers. Still trailing rival Canal Satelite Digital (CSD) by more than 300,000 subscribers, Via's numbers reflect a remarkable 70.5% rate of growth over the last 12 months.Via claims its market share has grown from 25.1% in March, 1998 to 36.2% this month. The platform's most watched channel is Gran Via, which broadcasts a mix of football, cinema and bullfights.As Via D
  • Warner launches Kubrick web-site

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  • Witt joins cast of PlesWin's Hollywood Sign

    Germany's controversy-courting former ice-skating champion, Katarina Witt, is poised to return to the big screen in The Hollywood Sign. The film is the first to be financed by Eric Pleskow and Leon De Winter's Dutch studio PlesWin Entertainment Group and is the US production debut of Sonke Wortmann, German director of Der Bewegte Mann.Witt is to play the part of a head-turning drug dealer and joins a cast which already boasts Burt Reynolds, Rod Steiger and Tom Bere
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    UK video-on-demand pioneer Yes TV yesterday said that it believes it is worth more than $1bn, although it has less than 1,500 subscribers.The valuation came as Yes unveiled details of its planned flotation on the London stockmarket and said that its shares will be priced in the 225p-275p range. That suggests an initial market capitalisation of $877m-$1.07bn (£550m-£670m). The company will sell some 25% of its equity. Dealings are scheduled to start on April 17.Yes will grant two
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    Zentropa Internationale, the recently-launched international arm of Dogme co-creators Zentropa, has partnered with start-up UK production house Cylo Film to form a new strand of innovative films where Dogme meets The X-Files.Although not being made as Dogme films, the English-language paranormal thrillers are to combine a quasi-documentary style with paranormal events, possibly using cutting edge digital technology and subtle special effects. The films will be produced under a banner t