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7 November 2001

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  • Academics attack Asoka's historical accuracy

    Academics in the Indian state of Orissa have hit out at the historical accuracy of actor-producer Shah Rukh Khan's international hit Asoka. MN Das, an internationally renowned expert on Emperor Ashoka and his conquest of Kalinga, said that a figure of such historical importance should not have been distorted in a bid to make easy money. Blasting the filmmakers for not doing adequate research and for trivialising the history of the period, Das said that the objective of a histor
  • AFMA sees first revenue drop in six years

    The growth of the UK market last year helped indie film sellers to offset growing weakness in the world video markets. According to new data from the American Film Marketing Association (AFMA) members' revenue dropped for the first time in six years. Overall sales were down 6% to $2.62bn. In its annual survey AFMA blames a "significant decline in the video market and a worldwide softening in the value of most currencies." The theatrical sector was the highlight of the survey. Sa
  • BAFTA LA ceremony postponed five months

    Political events have caused the postponement of the BAFTA LA Britannia Awards until April 12.The awards, where George Lucas is to receive the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film, and HBO Original Programming the Britannia Award for Excellence in Television, were scheduled for Nov 10.BAFTA LA Chairman Gary Dartnall said: "We decided to postpone the event as we felt the timing, in light of recent events, would be more fitting to celebrate these honours early ne
  • Bandits to open Mumbai festival of Indian film

    Bandits, produced by Indian-born producer Ashok Amritraj, is to open the International film festival of Mumbai on 21 November. Amritraj will be the chief attraction at the three year old festival which will also screen a total of 30 feature films as part of the Indian Panorama, including this year's blockbuster Lagaan. The films had been selected by an independent 13-member jury headed by renowned Indian film maker Shaji Karun for the 32nd International Film Festival of I
  • Behind The Sun, Lagaan, Atanarjuat join Oscar race

    Walter Salles' Behind The Sun, Cannes Camera d'Or winner Atanarjuat The Fast Runner and epic cricketing film Lagaan have joined an increasingly promising line-up as India, Canada and four Latin American countries unveiled their Oscar hopefuls.Japan picked the less well-known film Go, a drama by Yukisada Isao about a boy who is both Japanese and Korean, as its contender for the foreign-language Oscar.The Canadian institute said that the choice of Zacha
  • Benigni's Pinocchio delayed until next Christmas

    Roberto Benigni's hugely anticipated next picture, Pinocchio, will not be released in Italy until Christmas 2002, a spokesman for the Cecchi Gori Group confirmed on Wednesday (Nov 7).The film had originally been set for release later this year, which would have placed it somewhere between the two blockbuster heavyweights Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, due out on December 6, and Lord Of The Rings, which will be released on January 18.Cecchi
  • Berlin to create 'campus' for young film-makers

    The Berlin International Film Festival is to set up a parallel event for up to a thousand international film students, festival director Dieter Kosslick has revealed.Called the Berlinale Talent Campus, the event is to run in parallel with the 53rd edition of the festival in 2003. The initiative will include screenings and workshops led by film professionals from all areas of film-making."This will be a huge new event running for five days in parallel with the Berlinale," Kosslic
  • Brenda Johns hired as Warner int'l distrib exec

    Brenda Johns has been named vice president, international distribution at Warner Bros Pictures.Johns will be responsible for supporting the department's distribution efforts for all Warner Bros Pictures-produced titles, as well as international acquisitions and co-productions."Brenda has an extensive background in theatrical distribution, as well as great instincts and foresight," said Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President, International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, who annou
  • British Telecom applies for broadcast licence

    British Telecommunications (BT) has applied to the Independent Television Commission (ITC) for a licence to become a TV broadcaster.Although it says it currently has no near term plans to operate services it is known to be eyeing video-on-demand (VoD) and multi-channel TV. BT also admitted that its networks would need to be upgraded to ADSL standard before it could mount a meaningful operation."We want to apply so that we can see what kind of services we might be able to offer.
  • Bruce Willis cancels London for 'family reasons'

    Bruce Willis has bowed out of appearing at this month's London Film Festival, citing "family reasons".The star was due to attend a gala screening of MGM crime ensemble Bandits on November 15, as well as take part in a public interview with festival director Adrian Wootton at the National Film Theatre on the same day.Bandits itself replaced Windtalkers, which was pulled from the line-up after its US release was pushed back to next summer in the wake of the September
  • BVI's Man Who Sued God rides high

    Australia scored another local hit last weekend as boisterous comedy The Man Who Sued God chalked up one of the biggest openings of the year in the market.The film grossed $780,612 (A$1.53m) for Buena Vista International in its first four days from 226 screens. The gross was $102,000 more than Michael Douglas thriller Don't Say A Word, which opened against it on October 25.A major part of the film's appeal was seen as its star, Billy Connolly, who was pushed heavil
  • Carlton closes Thai, South Korean sales

    The UK's Carlton International has closed a string of video and DVD sales in South Korea and Thailand ahead of this month's Pusan market.In South Korea, Ally Entertainment has licensed 19 classic Rank and ITC catalogue titles from Carlton's Film Collection, including Steve Kloves' The Fabulous Baker Boys and Gus Van Sant's To Die For.Thailand's IVS, which regularly licences Rank and ITC titles, has licensed 50 titles, including Rank's Raise The Titanic and C
  • Columbia, Winchester take over New Best Friend

    Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group and UK and US-based Winchester Films have taken over New Best Friend, the college-age drama which was originally on MGM's slate for the US.Columbia has taken North and Latin American and Asian rights excluding Japan and Korea on the picture, formerly known as Mary Jane's Last Dance. Winchester is handling the remaining international rights.The $8m film, produced by Frank Mancuso Jr, became available when Chris McGurk took over
  • Danish films continue market-beating home runs

    In a year that will no doubt go down as the most profitable ever for Danish films in their home market, new films continue to impress at the box-office, with Friday's release of Niels Arden Oplev's black comedy Fukssvansen taking the top spot from Rush Hour 2 with 25,788 admissions from 46 prints. The film, which was produced by feature debutante Sisse Garum Olsen for Zentropa Productions, stars popular actors Anders W. Berthelsen (Italian For Beginners) and
  • DiCillo's Double Whammy to open Gijon festival

    US director Tom DiCillo is set to inaugurate Spain's International Film Festival of Gijon (Nov 23-30) with Sundance hit Double Whammy.The black comedy stars Elizabeth Hurley, Dennis Leary and Steve Buscemi in the story of a police detective struggling to gain back his reputation after failing to stop a fast-food restaurant massacre.Other official section titles for this year's 39th edition include:Hedwig And The Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, USA)
  • Domestic Disturbance

    Domestic DisturbanceReviewed by Jean OppenheimerDir: Harold Becker. US 2001. 91minsIf Domestic Disturbance is indicative of the current state of Hollywood thrillers, then the genre is suffering from a bad case of fatigue. Coming on the heels of Swordfish and Battlefield Earth, John Travolta appears to be in a bit of a slump himself. Actually, the actor is the best thing about this disappointing suspense drama. Based on his name value and appeal the
  • Dunaway, Boorman, Haneke head for Thessaloniki

    Faye Dunaway, John Boorman, Michael Haneke, Stanley Kwan and Mohsen Makhmalbaf are amongst the guests attending this month's Thessaloniki International Film Festival.The event, presided over by celebrated film-maker Theo Angelopoulos, kicks off with Jacques Rivette's Va Savoir on November 9. Peter Cattaneo's Lucky Break closes proceedings on November 18. Dunaway is to accompany director Jerry Schatzberg for a screening of 1970's Puzzle Of A Downfall Child, i
  • EFA Watch: stars flock to Berlin award ceremony

    Stars newly confirmed to attend the European Film Awards in Berlin on December 1 include Germany's Maria Schrader whose latest film is Rosenstrasse; Maria Bonnevie (Sweden, I Am Dina, Dragonfly [aka Oyenstikker]); Joely Richardson (UK, The Affair Of The Necklace); Fabrizio Gifuni (Italy, L'Amore Probabilmente); Paul Rhys (UK, From Hell); Renee Soutendijk (Netherlands, Dial 9 For Love, With Great Joy [Met Grote Blijdschap]); Udo Kier (Germany,
  • EFCA lobbies against EC-proposed subsidy ceiling

    Film lobby group, the European Film Companies Alliance (EFCA) has taken issue with a key European Commission communication on state aid schemes for cinema.The Commission proposal was published last week and recommended capping state aid to 50% of a film's production budget, arguing that this would stimulate the growth of the private film sector. However, the communication said that "difficult and low budget" films should be excluded from this limit. EFCA says that if the recomme
  • Emmys pick Judy Davis over Emma Thompson

    The 53rd Annual Prime Time Emmy awards, twice-cancelled in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, finally went ahead Nov. 4. There were no great surprises in terms of network television series ' NBC's White House fiction The West Wing won its second consecutive award for best drama series while HBO's Sex And The City earned best comedy honours ' but there was something of an upset in the telefilm awards. HBO's widely-acclaimed production Wit was awarded best telefilm
  • Ex-EM.TV bosses to be prosecuted in Germany

    Munich's public prosecutor's office is tabling charges against the former CEO Thomas Haffa and CFO Florian Haffa of one-time shareholders' darling EM.TV & Merchandising's on suspicion of them purposely concealing the true state of the company's shares. (Screendaily Dec 17, 2000)Senior public prosecutor Manfred Wick told the dpa news agency that the investigators are accusing the Haffa brothers of having issued incorrect half-year figures on August 24 of last year as well as at a
  • Film-makers protest Iran's treatment of Milani

    Film-makers' association Facets Multimedia, critics group FIPRESCI and dozens of film directors have voiced their support for jailed Iranian auteur Tahmineh Milani, who faces execution over her recent film The Hidden Half.Industry luminaries who have appealed to the Iranian government to relent include Francis Ford Coppola, Ang Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Catherine Breillat, Guillermo Del Toro and Chris Marker.Milani is currently free on bail pending a trial later this month
  • Fireworks, Samuel Goldwyn pick up Me Without You

    Fireworks Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films have acquired all North American rights to Sandra Goldbacher's female relationship drama Me Without You.The US partners bought the film, which stars Michelle Williams, Anna Friel and Kyle MacLachlan, from the UK's Capitol Films. The acquisition was announced by Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Daniel Diamond, president of Fireworks Pictures.The film, which screened in the Cinema Del Presente section of this
  • Fortissimo closes deals on a range of titles

    Fortissimo Film Sales enjoyed a busy Mifed having struck deals on its foreign-language Oscar hopeful La Spagnola and a range of other titles.An Australian comedy directed by Steve Jacobs, La Spagnola was sold to Araba Films for Spain, Mongkol Cinema for Thailand, Quality Films for Mexico, Gil for Israel and Blanco & Travieso for Venezuela. At the earlier London Screenings deals on the film included Sinocom (Taiwan), JLD Image (France), AVE (Greece), and Quality Films
  • Gumpert joins Intermedia Film Equities

    Former Universal Pictures executive vp Jon Gumpert has joined the Internationalmedia Group as vice chairman of Intermedia Film Equities USA, Inc.In his new post, Gumpert will be in charge of supervising worldwide feature film operations, including the structuring and financing of film projects, while further areas of responsibility will be worldwide legal and business affairs.A renowned professional in international film financing and acquistions, he handled split-rights deals a
  • Harry Potter mega-release smashes advance records

    Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone was this week on course for the biggest opening ever in the UK, racking up record-breaking advance bookings for its release on a record number of sites and prints.UGC Cinemas reported that, with two weeks still to go before the release, bookings have equalled total advance sales on Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, the previous record holder. The exhibitor said that bookings for Harry Potter were now 250% higher than To
  • Hong Kong's TVB to broadcast in China

    Sir Run Run Shaw's Hong Kong-based broadcast group Television Broadcasts (TVB) has become the third group to gain official permission to broadcast in China.In a deal slightly different to those recently hatched by AOL Time Warner and Phoenix satellite Television, which is part-owned by News Corp, TVB will set up a joint venture with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) (Screendaily, Oct 12)TVB will subscribe $3m (HK$23.4m) and CCTV $2m (HK$15.6m) for 60% and
  • Iberoamerican forum to host 44 new film projects

    Spanish organisers of the annual Iberoamerican Co-production Forum (Nov 18-20) have unveiled the list of 44 new feature film projects set to participate in this year's event.Attendance at the Forum, which functions as a mini-market, is expected to be high thanks to its new date and location. The event will be housed for the first time within the Iberoamerican Film Festival of Huelva.Companies set to attend include among others: Spain's Telefonica Media, Filmax, Antena 3 TV, Cana
  • Italy ponders shortlist of three Oscar candidates

    Italy's unofficial shortlist for its foreign Oscar candidate features Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room, Gabriele Muccino's The Last Kiss and Ferzan Ozpetek's Ignorant Fairies.All three movies swept the David di Donatello local awards in April, and are among the highest-grossing Italian films of the year.Widely tipped as the favourite, Moretti has garnered unanimous critical support for The Son's Room, winning the Cannes Palme d'Or for his drama about a
  • Japan, Uruguay select Oscar nominations

    The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eirin) has selected Isao Yukisada's Go (pictured) as Japan's nominee for the Foreign Film Academy Award, out of a short list of twelve candidates. The film, Yukisada's third feature, tells the story of a Korean youth's coming of age - and his struggle against prejudice in a society that regards him and his fellow Koreans as foreigners, even though they may be the third generation of their families to live in Japan. Featur
  • Kandahar opens to full houses in Canada

    Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Kandahar did sell-out business on its first theatrical engagement in North America. The Afghanistan-set film opened October 26 - October 28 in Toronto and Montreal through distributor Seville Pictures. Box office was $34,831 (C$54,986) from just two screens for a stunning screen average of $17,415. Seville plans to add two further screens in Toronto on Nov. 2 and an additional five on Nov. 9 with openings in Vancouver, Edmonton and Quebec Ci
  • Kidman back on top with an Others film

    Antipodean actress Nicole Kidman reclaimed the crown at the UK box office this week, four weeks after her musical hit Moulin Rouge relinquished the top spot to American Pie 2, as The Others knocked the comedy sequel from its perch following a three week reign.The chiller scored an impressive take of $3.3m (£2.3m) from 385 sites, showing a strong site average of $8,593. The takings included cannily timed previews on Wednesday and Thursday nights to catch the Hallowe
  • Kirch/ProSieben agrees management board

    Agreement has been reached internally within the KirchGroup on the executives who will sit on the management board of the new company created from the merger of ProSiebenSAT.1 Media AG and KirchMedia by mid 2002, according to the business news service vwd.While Dieter Hahn is already designated as the CEO of the merged entity, it is envisaged that the CFO position will be taken by Brian Cook while Kirch Holding managing director Klaus Piette will serve as COO. Piette will also have re
  • Korea's CJ poised to suck up newcomer Tube

    South Korean major CJ Entertainment is poised to acquire independent outfit Tube Entertainment in a deal that looks to reshape the landscape of the Korean film industry. A formal acquisition is likely to take place by late November or early December, around the time that CJ Entertainment intends to go public.Tube Entertainment, an integrated investment-production-distribution company headed by producer Kim Seung-bum, was formed only two years ago on the foundations of Ilshin In
  • Mannheim reveals debut directors' competition

    Danish director Ake Sandgren's Truly Human (Et Rigtigt Menneske) is the opening film at the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg (November 8-17 2001) which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a number of special events looking back over the past five decades with such filmmakers as Volker Schloendorff, Vera Chytilova, Henning Carlsen, Krzysztof Zanussi and Jeanine Meerapfel..The feature films selected for the International Competition of first-time
  • Martin Sheen becomes latest London fest dropout

    US actor Martin Sheen has bowed out of an on-stage appearance and interview at this month's Regus London Film Festival, the event has confirmed.The UK festival said that Sheen's decision to pull out was due to "work commitments", although it comes only days after Bruce Willis said he would stay home because of family concerns. Sheen was to have attended in support of Apocalypse Now Redux.Italian director Nanni Moretti, whose Palme d'Or winning The Son's Room plays
  • Mexican arthouse will help independent films

    In an attempt to boost the profile of smaller films in Mexico, a new arthouse screen has opened at the Alliance Francaise in the capital. Touted as the first of its kind, Cine Francia will screen a variety of indie films giving special exposure to French and Mexican product. Founding partners Nicolas Piccato, Valentine Laforet and Diego Hernandez aim to make the specialized screen an answer to the predominance of studio product among Mexico's nearly 3,000 screens."There is now
  • MIFED: Cineclick's Gangster scores with new buyers

    My Wife Is A Gangster, the Korean hit which twists the gangster genre by putting a woman in the criminal lead, proved a hit with MIFED buyers. The film, sold by Cineclick Asia, was bought by Audiovisual Entertainment for Greece, ASG Videofilm for Russia, PT Menara Media for Indonesia and in Thailand it was sold to Nontanund, a regular buyer of Korean pictures. It became the first Korean film of recent years sold to Turkey and Hungary when it was bought by Kas. My Wife, wh
  • MIFED: figures show attendance drop of15%

    Mifed organising company Rassegne has pledged to tackle one of the most persistent complaints of the market's attendees - the terrible air-conditioning system - which chilled this year's dwindling number of delegates."Next year, we will be upgrading the air conditioning system," promised Manlio Armellini, managing director of Rassegne. The move follows years of complaints about the state of infamous Mifed air-conditioning - a system renowned for re-circulating stale, smoky air and also
  • MIFED: Paradiso nets magnificent seven for Benelux

    Territories making themselves noticed this MIFED by the numbers and activity of their buyers included Benelux, Turkey and Russia. One company from Benelux was particularly busy. Brussels-based independent distributor Paradiso Entertainment bought Benelux rights to The Human Stain and The Adopted from Lakeshore. From New Line, a regular source of product for Paradiso, it acquired Willard and All About Beginning. From Motion Picture Corporation o
  • MIFED: UK's Film Company enjoys bumper sales

    Defying the economic and political gloom, UK foreign sales outfit The Film Company enjoyed a busy MIFED.It sold Zombie Dawn of the Dead to Gaga Communications, comfortably Japan's leading buyer in MilanUK independent title The Bunker was sold to Mi-Pic for Japan, AMIK Films for Spain, GMI for South Korea, Haskablio for Iceland, NDV for Poland and Ameromitra for Indonesia. The Film Company, which is headed by Carey Fitzgerald and Ronald De Neef, also s
  • Miramax prepares ingenue for Oscar run

    Abstracted from the weekly edition of Screen InternationalNo doubt smarting at missing out on foreign-language megahit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon last year, Miramax Films has done everything in its considerable power this year to bag the cream of the world crop.But all its many international pick-ups this year - which range from Italian For Beginners to Tears Of The Black Tiger - this week's limited release of Amelie in New York and
  • MMG boards Palm Tree drama quartet

    Armi Artsi's Milestone Media Group (MMG) has boarded a slate of four period features being readied by Scottish development and production outfit Palm Tree Productions. The deal was finalised at last week's Mifed film market.Palm Tree recently secured independent financial backing from Monaco-based media investment company IP Hedge for the dramas Red Rose, Chopin's Widow, Voyage Of Dreams and The White Duchess, which are each budgeted in the $5m-$10m range (Screendaily
  • Monsters, Inc. swallows $63.5m

    Michael Eisner will be sighing with relief. The Walt Disney/Pixar animation, Monsters, Inc., scored a $63.5m opening weekend bonanza. Based on estimates, the film set a Disney record and, more important symbolically, reclaims from DreamWorks the record for a three-day opening by an animated film. DreamWorks' animated film Shrek opened in May 2001 with $42.1m and has since earned $267m making it the highest-grossing film of the year thus far. The weekend box office was a monster
  • Muted Mifed benefits smaller buyers

    With many of the big US and Japanese players absent, 2001 was never going to be a vintage year for MIFED. The market corridors of the Fiera in Milan were visibly quieter than in previous years and a number of exhibitor booths were paid for but remained empty. As a result, high profile market deals were thin on the ground. Some of the most interesting deals, as in the case of Miramax and Good Machine, even took place by phone away from MIFED. However, those who had expected MIFED to be
  • New chief trims running time at Edinburgh festival

    In his first move as artistic director of August's Edinburgh International Film Festival, Shane Danielsen has trimmed the marathon 15-day event to 12 days.The Scottish festival aims to channel cash saved by the move into creating other events throughout the year. Next year's edition runs Wednesday 14 to Sunday 25."A shorter festival can and will be a sweeter festival," said Danielsen, a former journalist who takes over from Lizzie Francke. "All of our current sections will be re
  • Oscar race joined by Colombia's Assassins

    Colombia's Film Office has selected Barbet Schroeder's controversial Our Lady Of The Assassins (La Virgen De Los Sicaros) for submission as best foreign language film at next year's Academy Awards.In his first foreign language production in sixteen years, Schroeder's film illustrates the demise of Medellin, a once magnificent city, now infamous as the centre of the Colombian cocaine cartel, through the eyes of a famous novelist who returns home after years of writing over
  • Pressman's ContentFilm hires Tulley, Roban

    Ed Pressman and John Schmidt's digital production and distribution outfit ContentFilm has hired Douglas Tulley as the company's chief financial officer and Michael Roban as head of business affairs. Prior to joining ContentFilm, Tulley was senior vice president of finance and strategic planning at USA Films, and a vice president at its predecessor, October Filmswhere he was involved in October's merger with Gramercy Pictures and Polygram Home Video. Roban was a founding partner
  • Rave Macbeth shines for US' Constellation

    US indie distributor Constellation Entertainment has picked up Rave Macbeth, an all digital filming of Shakespeare's Macbeth transposed to the modern day rave dance scene.Constellation will give the picture, directed by Klaus Knoesel, a theatrical release in April 2002 and then handle video and DVD releases. The $3.5m English-language film was produced as a co-production between Canada's Silhouette Media group and Frame Werk, a German company run by Das Werk co-founder St
  • Rift between Kirch and BSkyB opens wider

    Relations between UK satellite giant BSkyB and Germany's Kirch appear close to breaking point.Continuing losses and repeated changes of management at Premiere World, Kirch's pay-TV brand, appear to have put in doubt BSk'B's investment in the operation. With the prospect of a stockmarket flotation for KirchPayTV looking increasingly remote, BSkyB said it may sell. But it also raised doubts about Kirch's ability to buy back the stake.In a statement which accompanied BSkyB's third
  • Rocket Pictures unveils fresh slate of titles

    David Furnish and Elton John's Rocket Pictures has renewed its first-look deal with Walt Disney Co. for another five years and unveiled a fresh line-up of films.The company has also negotiated an increased development fund from Disney at a time when, according to Furnish, 97% of the studio's overhead deals are being cut.Peter Hewitt, director of The Borrowers, and writer Phil Hughes, who recently collaborated with Hewitt on Thunderpants, are adapting Winging It
  • Ross exits Ster Century to launch art-house plexes

    Mike Ross, managing director of pan-European exhibition circuit Ster Century Europe, has exited the company. He is replaced by Selwyn Grimsley, previously European operations director. Both Ross and Grimsley are founding directors of Ster Century, which now operates 190 screens across the UK, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Ross, whose departure coincides with the finalisation of an $80m refinancing package - effectively removing the cir
  • Saturday (Sabado)

    Dir: Juan Villegas. Argentina. 2001. 72mins. A brisk deadpan comedy about urban alienation and foundering relationships, Saturday generated mildly positive critical word-of-mouth in Venice earlier this year, where it played in the Cinema Of The Present section. Too lightweight and insufficiently original to make much impact in commercial terms, its main function is likely to be as a calling card for its first-time writer-director Juan Villegas. The picture could also a
  • Shrek sells $110m in three-day home video frenzy

    Shrek, the year's highest grossing film, has opened another avenue of riches for DreamWorks and its home video distribution partner Universal Studios. The film sold 7 million VHS and DVD units and generated $110m in three days, the best opening weekend since Walt Disney's home video release of The Lion King in 1995. The Disney animation sold 20m units in six days generating a retail spend of $340m.According to a release, more than 2.5 million Shrek DVDs were sold,
  • Telefonica Media ready to sell stakes, change name

    Telefonica Media, part of Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, is to slim down the assets it owns and focus on a simpler array of businesses in Europe and Latin America. It will also change name to Admira.At a rare press conference, Telefonica Media executive president Juan Jose Nieto confirmed reports that the company plans to sell off its stakes in the UK's Pearson and Argentina's Azul TV, albeit "when market conditions are more amenable." But he denied suggestions that a stock flotati
  • The Mystic Masseur

    Dir: Ismail Merchant. UK. 2001. 117mins.The Mystic Masseur plays to the proven strengths of the Merchant-Ivory team: like much of their previous work, it depicts the contrast and clash of cultures in an exotic arena, backed by a literary pedigree, in this case VS Naipaul's first novel. A significant advance over Ismail Merchant's previous forays into direction (In Custody, The Proprietor and Cotton Mary), The Mystic Masseur none the less suf
  • The One

    The OneDir: James Wong. US. 2001. 80mins. The One offers a double dose of Asian martial arts star Jet Li but shortchanges its audience in just about every other department. After the promising box office showings in the US of last year's Romeo Must Die ($56m) and this past summer's Kiss Of The Dragon ($37m), this action/sci-fi video game of a movie will do little to further advance Li's Hollywood career. Lack of competition for young male fi
  • Truly Human tops Luebeck's Nordic Film Days

    Danish Dogme-title Truly Human (Et Rigtigt Menneske) went away with top honours, the NDR-Foerderpreis worth $11,500 (DM25,000) and the Baltischer Filmpreis, at the 43rd Nordic Film Days in Luebeck, Germany.The jury glowing said of the film: "Through the eyes of a modern Kaspar Hauser, the film succeeds in laying bare the conventions of our society in a clever and humorous way without false dismay. This balancing act is underscored by the outstanding performances of the actors and brill
  • TV-Loonland takes 29.9% stake in Metrodome

    UK DVD and video distributor Metrodome Group is set to boost its international, presence in the home entertainment sector following plans by Germany's TV-Loonland to acquire a 29.9% stake.Subject to receiving approval at an extraordinary general meeting on November 29, TV-Loonland will buy 4,184,250 new shares from Metrodome at a price of 17 pence per share as part of a capital increase and will also extend a $2.2m (£1.5m) loan facility to the UK company for the purpose of buying new f
  • Tykwer's Heaven to open Berlinale 2002

    As predicted, Tom Tykwer's Heaven, starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi, has been selected as the opening film of Dieter Kosslick's first Berlin festival as director, making its world premiere on February 6, 2002. (Screendaily Oct 12, 2001)German films have rarely opened the Berlinale, let alone been selected for the main competition - an historical source of controversy between government sponsors and previous director Moritz de Hadeln."Tom Tykwer is one of German
  • UIP chiefs Oneile, Cripps sign for five more years

    United International Pictures (UIP) chairman Paul Oneile and president Andrew Cripps have both renewed their contracts with the company, taking them through to 2006. The move comes as UIP enjoys a strong year, having already grossed $1.7bn this year thanks to films such as Shrek, Bridget Jones Diary and American Pie 2."I couldn't be happier Paul and Andrew signed on for an additional five years," said Rob Friedman, vice chairman of the Motion Picture Group for Para
  • UK French Festival to benefit from Amelie success

    The 10th instalment of the French Film Festival UK will get underway on Nov 16 with an Amelie-like air of optimism.The festival includes screenings of Eric Rohmer's The Lady And The Duke (L'Anglaise Et Le Duc), Gabriel Aghion's Absolutely Fabulous (Absolument Fabuleux), Claude Miller's Betty Fischer And Other Stories and Francis Veber's The Closet (Le Placard) among the French fare on show.The event, which runs until Dec 2, is the only UK festi
  • UK press is spellbound by Harry Potter magic

    The UK awoke on Monday morning to blanket coverage of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone.With the exception of business daily The Financial Times, every British national paper carried front page news of the film's premiere at Leicester Square. The premiere was attended by a stream of celebrities as well as the film's 12 year old star Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter author JK Rowling.The coverage was universally positive and reflected the excitement of the m
  • UK trade gap narrows in film and TV sectors

    The positive trade balance of the UK film industry has plunged between 1999 and 2000, dropping from $409m (£278m) to $107m (£73m) last year.According to figures from government agency National Statistics, UK film exports fell by 20% - or $60.1m (£41m) to $899m (£612m) - between 1999 and 2000, while imports hit $241m (£164m). The 34% rise is the first increase since 1996.UK-based subsidiaries of US studios also saw increased activity for the second year running. Both imports and
  • United Airlines wins entertainment award

    United Airlines, which lost two planes in the September 11 attacks, has won an award for best in-flight entertainment. The prize, handed out by the World Airline Entertainment Association, was decided by a panel of media industry figures, including Bruce Johanson of Natpe, David Fraser of Granada Media, Carol Sinclair of Eaton Films, Annie Mather of Gazella Films in Hong Kong, and UK producer Tony Watts. The airlines were judged for originality, suitability, production value, co
  • Vajont

    Dir: Renzo Martinelli. Italy/France. 2001. 116 mins.Vajont is an all-European disaster movie. Although it's tempting to shuffle the word-order, producer-director Renzo Martinelli's $8.2 million production is not an all-European movie disaster: it's just a mediocre example of the genre. Although it boasts a couple of French co-stars (Daniel Auteil and Philippe Noiret), a throaty operatic soundtrack by Andrea Bocelli and some heavily-touted digital special effects, Vajont