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8 July 2001

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  • Actor negotiations continue past Saturday deadline

    The deadline came at midnight on Saturday (June 30) but negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation Of Radio And Television Artists (AFTRA) returned to the table on Sunday morning (July 1) to continue discussions with the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMTP) - signalling that a crippling actors strike so long anticipated will almost certainly be avoided."The parties agreed that the remaining issues would be better addressed beginning
  • AI has biggest admissions opening ever in Japan

    Opening day and date with the North American release, Warner Bros AI Artificial Intelligence has scored the biggest two day opening in admissions terms in Japanese box office history. Scoring admissions of 1,037,879 over Saturday and Sunday, it outpaced previous record-holder Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace which drew 916,540 admissions in 1999.Box office totalled Y1.394bn ($11.6m), which was less than the Y1.495bn from Star Wars: Episode 1 because speci
  • Alibi founder Jones quits UK sales outfit

    Gareth Jones has stepped down as managing director of UK-based international sales and distribution outfit Alibi Films International. Alibi, which will now restructure its business, has no immediate plans for a replacement.Jones, who co-founded the company with partners Roger Holmes and Linda James in June 1999, will continue to work with Alibi on certain projects including Blood And Guts, which he is executive producing with director of sales Hilary Davis. The Australian featur
  • An American Rhapsody

    Dir: Eva Gardos. US. 2001. 106 mins.An ode to America as the land of freedom and opportunity, Eva Gardos' An American Rhapsody relates a heartfelt coming-of-age story, centring on a bright Hungarian-American adolescent (magnificently embodied by Manny & Lo discovery Scarlett Johansson), who insists on determining her own fate against both familial and political odds. Although based on the personal experience of Gardos, who here makes a decent (but not much more) featur
  • Anders gets retrospective tribute at Karlovy Vary

    US independent film-maker Allison Anders will receive a retrospective tribute at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival next week as part of the Forum Of Independents series. Anders' latest film Things Behind The Sun, which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, will also be screened.Things Behind The Sun, which is handled internationally by Menemsha Entertainment, had its international premiere last week as part of the American Independents section at the Munich Film
  • Avignon festival awards three international prizes

    The Avignon Film Festival, which last year expanded its Franco-US axis to become truly European, closed July 1 with prizes for Spain's Pellet (El Bola), France's Stand-By and How To Kill Your Neighbour's Dog from the US.The festival's prizes gave the winners a stock of Kodak film for future use, a beefed up marketing budget for French release, use of Panavision cameras, sub-titling and a copy of script-writing software Final Draft. The three films which shar
  • Blockbuster Mexico poised to acquire rival outfit

    Blockbuster Mexico is set to pounce on main rival Grupo Videovisa. "We're definitely interested in acquiring some of Videovisa's assets, including sites, outlets or inventory, provided they fit in with our long term strategy," said Diego Cosio, Senior Vice President, Blockbuster Latin America. The beleaguered Videovisa has been placed on the block by the group of banking entities which acquired it from major broadcaster Televisa in 1993.Blockbuster currently owns 205 stores in Mexico a
  • Boswell For The Defence concludes early

    Period legal drama Boswell For The Defence has ground to a halt after producers were unable to secure a final tranche of financing for the $14m film ahead of the scheduled start of photography in the UK next week.Boswell, set up between the UK's Scala Productions, German fund MBP and Australian sales entity Beyond Films, has now been postponed until early next year. Scala's Nik Powell and MBP's Rainer Mockert are executive producing, while Mark Pennell is producing.
  • British film classification rules set to change

    The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has revealed plans to change the existing 12-certificate to a new 'advisory' category, bringing the territory into line with the rest of Europe and the US. Coinciding with the current media attention on cuts made to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in order to qualify for a British 12 rating, the BBFC has acknowledged that while these cuts were justified, there is now a need to review the long-standing classification system. T
  • Cats & Dogs

    Dir: Lawrence Guterman. US. 2001. 87 mins. A comedy featuring realistic-looking, talking versions of humankind's favourite domestic pets sounds like a good way to reach the sometimes elusive family audience. But Cats & Dogs proves - if it still needs proving - that in this genre at least all the computer effects wizardry in the world can't replace genuine emotional warmth and well-crafted humour. Warner Bros. has shown enough confidence in this $50m live action/CGI hyb
  • Cats And Dogs takes $9m, Scary 2 $8.75m on July 4

    Warner Bros has a hit on its hands in North America with Cats And Dogs which grossed a meaty $9m on its opening day Wednesday. The family adventure, featuring digitally animated cats and dogs and the voices of Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon among others, led the field on the Fourth of July holiday and could be the top movie of the weekend. However, Dimension Films' R-rated comedy sequel Scary Movie 2 also opened with a massive $8.75m on Wednesday and could still prove t
  • Cats And Dogs, Scary Movie 2 top holiday weekend

    Cats And Dogs beat Scary Movie 2 - just - to the top spot at the North American box office over the weekend, but business was not on the mega-levels generated by last year's battle between The Perfect Storm and The Patriot.Opening on Wednesday - the July the 4th holiday itself - Cats And Dogs grossed $35.7m in five days and $21.67m over the Friday to Saturday weekend itself. Scary Movie 2 took $34.5m over the five days and $21m over the three
  • CinemaxX CFO quits as expansion plans collapse

    Marius Schwarz, chief financial officer at German exhibition giant CinemaxX has quit following the posting of half-year company losses of $22.5m (DM52.3m)Subsequent restructuring of the company has led to the closure of the its foreign operations and the removal of its chief, Wim Oude Kotte.Stating its intention to revise its expansionist strategy and concentrate on the domestic market, publicly-listed CinemaxX told its shareholders it had sold its cinema interests in Turkey, tr
  • Clear Blue, USA, ARP all ascend to Haynes' Heaven

    Clear Blue Sky Productions, the US film production outfit founded by billionaire Paul Allen and run by his sister Jodie Patton, agreed on Friday to co-finance Todd Haynes' $12m-$15m Far From Heaven under a novel arrangementthat sees it sharing in all revenues with both USA Films and ARP of France, who between them are handling worldwide distribution.Due to start shooting this autumn with Julianne Moore in the lead role, Haynes' film is being produced by Christine Vachon's Killer
  • Cuaron causes stink over Mexican ratings system

    Mexican directorAlfonso Cuaron and his producing partner Jorge Vergara are demanding anoverhaul of the Mexican ratings system after Cuaron's current box office hit Y Tu Mama Tambien was slapped with a C rating, restricting it to local audiences aged 18 andabove.Although commerciallylimiting, the C certificate has not stopped the raunchy comedy - about two teenageboys who embark on a sexual road-trip with an older woman - from breaking boxoffice records on its opening week in Mex
  • Deauville announces festival details

    The teaser campaign for the Deauville Festival of American Cinema has begun with confirmation that Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence will screen at the event.The film will be the centrepiece of a major Stanley Kubrick retrospective also featuring Killer Kiss, Eyes Wide Shut and the Jan Harlan-directed documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures. The A.I. move makes it even more likely that the Venice festival, which overlaps with most of De
  • Domestic favourites tipped for Norwegian Oscars

    Local box office hits predominate the nominations for the 2001 Norwegian Amanda Awards, Norway's equivalent of the Academy Awards.Pal Jackman's thirtysomething romantic comedy Detector produced by Norway's Christiania Film, which got three nods, and Norsk Film's documentary Cool and Crazy by Knut Erik Jensen about a male choir in a remote arctic town, which received two, were among the most popular Norwegian films of the last two years. Many observers were surprise
  • French cinema festival has little to celebrate

    Lara Croft was the main beneficiary of the annual French promotional event La Fete du Cinema, which suffered this year from a combination of hot weather, a lack of strong titles and a strike by Gaumont cinemas' staff.Although admissions tripled during the three-day long promotion, compared to the previous week, they plunged 18% (from 3.8 million down to 3 million), compared to last year's event.Instead of its usual slot, towards the end of June, this year the event was held July
  • Gareth Jones quits as Alibi chief

    Gareth Jones has stepped down as managing director of UK-based international sales and distribution outfit Alibi Films International. Alibi, which will now restructure its business, has no immediate plans for a replacement.Jones, who co-founded the company with partners Roger Holmes and Linda James in June 1999, will continue to work with Alibi on certain projects including Blood And Guts, which he is executive producing with director of sales Hilary Jones. The Australian featur
  • German film fund launches minimum guarantee scheme

    German producers and filmmakers are set to benefit from a new private film investment fund, entitled German Film Productions (GFP), which is to be launched within the next six weeks to raise $21.6m (DM 50m) from private investors by the end of 2002. A total of 20 projects, split between cinema and television, are to be financed through an innovative scheme involving raising minimum guarantees from TV and film distributors."We are in negotiations over a number of projects with no
  • High ticket tax in Argentina bites into box office

    Higher taxes onbox office tickets have forced exhibitors to raise ticket prices in Argentina.These have gone up as much as 15% in some areas, further aggravating dwindlingadmissions in a country deep in recession.According to a leading distributor, last year a mid-sized film such as Heartbreakers could have drawn an average 1,000admissions per copy during its opening weekend. A few weekends ago, Heartbreakers attracted 20,000 admissions from 35 screens/copies.The g
  • Hong Kong's FilMart struggles to sell itself

    For all the enthusiastic efforts of its organisers, FilMart, Hong Kong's annual film and television programmes market continues to fight for its place in the calendar. The fifth edition of FilMart, ended on Friday with a whimper, rather than a bang. "This year, 130 film and TV companies from 17 countries and regions are taking part, with a 20% increase in the number of exhibitors over last year," said Peter Woo, chairman of the Trade Development Council (TDC), the show's organising bod
  • Irish films to suffer from low TV licence increase

    In a move which will bitterly disappoint state broadcaster RTE, the Irish government has approved an increase of just $15.50 (IR£14.50) in the annual television license fee, bringing the standard charge from $75 (IR£70) up to $99 (IR£84.50). RTE had lobbied for a $54 increase in the license fee for over a year and had promised an extra $3.2m for Irish feature films if the government improved an increase of this order. In anticipation of this increase the broadcaster decided not
  • Italy's distributors elect president

    Italy's national distributors union, UNIDIM, has appointed Eagle Pictures' Giampaolo Sodano as its new president, replacing Andrea Occhipinti.In the same vein as last year's appointments, the position of vice president of the union has been split between an independent and a studio executive, with CDE's Jacopo Capanna and Richard Borg, head of United International Pictures (UIP) in Italy, both taking on the role.In his acceptance speech, Sodano said he would aim to push through
  • Japanese Pia film festival prize goes to The Mall

    The winner of Grand Prize at the 23rd Pia Festival was Yuki Tanada's Mall, a 76-minute video film about a woman who after witnessing a suicide passes out every time she gets her period. Kazuki Kobayashi's Pellet was awarded the Second Grand Prize, while three films shared the Jury Prize: Yoi Suzuki's Hana ga Naitara Bari ga Kuru (If the Flowers Cry, Bali Will Come), Yoshie Ogihara's 21 Seiki no Osama (21st Century King) and Tamako Hioki's Tanpen Shosetsu
  • Jason Isaacs stars in US indie romcom Passionada

    Jason Isaacs, the English actor whose credits include key roles in The Patriot, The End Of The Affair and Armageddon, has taken the lead role in independent drama Passionada, currently shooting in Massachussetts.Directed by Dan Ireland (The Whole Wide World), Passionada is a romantic comedy about a Portugese widow whose teenage daughter convinces her to date a new Englishman in town. The widow falls for the newcomer who pretends to be in the fishing
  • John Cooke quits SAG before he's even started

    John F Cooke, who last week was named the new chief executive officer and national excutive director of the US actors union Screen Actors Guild (SAG), has walked away from the job.Cooke made his decision after receipt of a letter from nine members of the SAG board stating that the naming of Cooke as CEO was not in accordance with the SAG constitution and that the title and authority issues needed to be addressed by the full board and debated. The letter came after the unanimous vote o
  • Karlovy Vary opens 36th festival

    Following the sudden cancellation of shooting on Boswell For The Defense, as revealed in Screen Daily yesterday (July 4), both Sir Michael Caine and the film's director Bruce Beresford, have decided not to attend the Karlovy Vary film festival. Caine, who was scheduled to receive an award for Outstanding Artist Contribution to World Cinema, told the festival: "What can I say' I'm just really tired".Casting an unexpected shadow over the opening of the 36th edition of the F
  • Kinowelt divests merchandising business

    As part of its announced restructuring process (Screen Daily June 19), troubled Kinowelt Medien has parted company with part of its merchandising operations.Brameier Fanworld, which operated a merchandising franchise chain with 113 Fanworld shops in city centre locations throughout Germany and in which Kinowelt had a 65% majority stake, has petitioned for insolvency.The decision was taken after Kinowelt's executive board decided not to continue funding the loss-making concern an
  • Kinowelt eyes Czech space

    Czech distributor Space Film is set to ink a deal with Germany's Kinowelt International to set up a joint venture that would cover distribution for the Czech and Slovak Republics, according to representatives of both companies. "In the Czech Republic we have a partner with whom we plan on forming a joint venture as soon as possible, and that's Space Film," Christoph Koelle, a spokesman for Kinowelt International in Munich told Screen Daily.Petr Zendl of Space Film confirm
  • Lot 47 confirms digital marketing pioneer as chief

    Scott Lipsky has been formallyanointed as chairman and chief executive officer of Lot 47 Films, the NewYork-based independent distributor of such films as Tim Roth's The WarZone, Chunhyang from Korea, Venus Beauty Institute and Claire Denis' controversial Trouble Every Day (pictured left).Lipsky, who co-founded Lot47 in 1999 with his brother and veteran film distributor, Jeff, has served untilnow as acting CEO on an interim basis. He had divided time between
  • Medusa's Bernasconi dies suddenly

    Carlo Bernasconi, president of Rome-based mini major Medusa Film, died suddenly Thursday night in Milan. Aged 57, he was known to have been suffering from heart problems for some time.Bernasconi was one of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's closest collaborators, first working with him in the construction industry in the 1970s, before joining him when he created private broadcaster Mediaset twenty years ago. He was appointed president of Medusa Film in 1995, when Fininvest first launc
  • New German production company attracts F.A.M.E.

    German publicly listed media concern F.A.M.E. has taken a 30% stake in the newly-founded Munich-based production outfit BUETOW MAINUSCH Filmproduktion.BUETOW MAINUSCH Filmproduktion, which is currently developing a feature film project as well as a TV a series and several TV movies, has been established by Babelsberg TV's managing director Michael Buetow and media consultant Christoph Mainusch. Buetow and Mainusch had previously worked together in at commercial broadcaster RTL 2
  • Nike launches award for digital sports shorts

    Sports giant Nike has become the latest corporate entity to explore the crossover between consumer marketing and film production.The sporting goods manufacturer has launched an annual 'UK Young Directors Awards' in association with London-based short film company Britshorts. The scheme offers an $8,500 (£6,000) award for amateur filmmakers to produce a 180-second digital short film on the subject of sport.The aim of the scheme, says Nike, is not to produce commercials but to enc
  • No Regrets for top Munich festival film prize

    This year's $35,000 (DM 80,000) main prize at the Munich Filmfest was awarded to Benjamin Quabeck for his graduation film Nichts Bereuen (No Regrets).Commenting on the 'HypoVereinsbank' Director's Support Prize the jury noted that the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg graduate had produced a clever, entertaining film of deep humanity: a young directorial talent has made a very mature film". No Regrets is set to be the first release by the new distribution company bei
  • Scary Movie 2

    Dir: Keenan Ivory Wayans. US. 2001. 88 mins. It's taken the Wayans brothers just twelve months to follow up on the astounding success of their slasher spoof Scary Movie (which last summer grossed $157m in the US and $103m internationally) with a sequel that rips into the supernatural thriller genre with equally gross abandon. Perhaps because of the tight schedule, and the fact that the satirical targets are not as easy this time round, Scary Movie 2 doesn't hit as many
  • Scottish film chief quits threatened agency

    John Archer, the chief executive of Scottish Screen, the national film agency, has quit his position after five years.Archer has been under fire since May, when it was revealed that the agency's lottery panel had awarded a £24,000 development grant to a film directed by his wife, Clara Glynn.While Archer was not directly involved in the decision, the discovery was particularly damaging for the agency, which is currently being scrutinised by politicians over its future. Ar
  • Secret Agent to be made by Darwin, DNA

    UK National Lottery franchise DNA Films has pacted with independent UK producer Lucy Darwin to develop and produce Leonardo Secret Agent, an action adventure comedy.Written by Jonny Kurzman, a former independent producer and short film-maker, Secret Agent was optioned by Darwin earlier this year. DNA will fund development, and company co-chiefs Duncan Kenworthy and Andrew Macdonald will produce, along with Darwin.The film is set in 15th century Italy, and sees Leon
  • Shrek laughs all the way to the bank

    US mega-hit Shrek took the UK box office by storm at the weekend when it opened with $6.6m (£4.7m) from 470 sites, an average of $14,023 per site. Although this figure included preview figures of $1.3m (£902,736) it wouldn't change its claim to the top spot in the UK chart and as the fourth highest opener of the year so far, behind Hannibal, The Mummy Returns and Bridget Jones's Diary. The film is the seventh biggest opening for distributor UIP in the territory and
  • Strike's off: new US actors contract agreed

    A new three-year theatrical motion picture and TV production agreement has been tentatively agreed by US actors unions Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation Of Television And Radio Artists (AFTRA) on behalf of actors and the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMPTP).The agreement, announced last night at 9.30pm LA time, is subject to the approval of the joint SAG/AFTRA Board of Directors and the memberships of both unions, voting in a secret ballot ma
  • StudioCanal acquires 45% of Sogepaq for $36m

    StudioCanal, the European film division of Vivendi Universal, is buying into its Spanish partner Sogepaq.StudioCanal, which is itself set to be absorbed within Universal, is paying Euros42.75m ($36.2m) to Sogecable for a 45% stake in Sogepaq. Sogepaq, which is responsible for Sogecable's film and TV acquisition, management and marketing activities, is crucially StudioCanal's minority partner in production and distribution arm StudioCanal Espana. The new move effectively gives St
  • StudioCanal is subsumed within Universal Pictures

    Europe's StudioCanal is set to lose its independence by being delisted from the Paris stock exchange and then folded into Universal Pictures, its stable-mate within the VivendiUniversal empire. The integration comes less than 15 months after StudioCanal was first floated on the bourse as a standalone force in international production and distribution.StudioCanal's imminentmerger with Universal, which was announced shortly after the Paris exchangeclosed for business on Friday afternoon,
  • Taormina Festival plans Italian distribution boost

    In a determined bid to aggressively encourage broader summer programming in Italy and boost the Taormina Film Festival's position as a European launchpad for US blockbusters, festival director Felice Laudadio has announced that he will yet again move the dates of the festival forward. This year's event runs June 29th to July 7th, earlier than in 2000. Next year's festival will run June 8th-16th. "I want Taormina to become a reference point for big summer releases," he said:" But I also
  • Telefilm Canada appoints acting executive director

    Telefilm Canada has appointed long-time agency executive Johanne St-Arnauld as acting executive director. She takes over from Francois Macerola, whose term ends July 3.The federal film finance agency has seen two other high-profile departures -- chairman Laurier LaPierre and and Peter Katadotis, Director, Canadian Operations. Arnauld's appointment is seen as an interim solution; she is not regarded as a contender for the position of executive director.Arnauld has worked since 1988 hold
  • The Believer wins top Moscow prize

    The 23rd Moscow International Film Festival ended on a high note on June 30th with Jack Nicholson attending the closing ceremony to accept the Stanislavsky Award for lifetime achievement.The actor who was attending the festival for a special screening of The Pledge dominated the event with a 90 minutes press conference - the only one he has done to support the release of the film - and subsequently attending numerous social gatherings including a meeting with Russian president V
  • The Believer wins top Moscow prize

    The 23rd Moscow International Film Festival ended on a high note on June 30th with Jack Nicholson attending the closing ceremony to accept the Stanislavsky Award for lifetime achievement.The actor who was attending the festival for a special screening of The Pledge dominated the event with a 90 minutes press conference - the only one he has done to support the release of the film - and subsequently attending numerous social gatherings including a meeting with Russian president V
  • Tom Sizemore joins up to Fear The X

    Fresh from Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, Tom Sizemore has signed up to play the lead in the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's english-language debut, Fear The X, co-written by Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit To Brooklyn). Fear The X begins shooting in the US and Rio from November with a $6.6m budget. The story follows security guard Harry Cain (Sizemore) who pursues his wife's murderer to Brazil. The 31 year-old writer-director, who lived in New Yo
  • Toronto gets Last Orders first

    Fred Schepisi's Last Orders will makes its world premiere at the 26th Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 6-15. Based on UK novelist Graham Swift's Booker Prize-winner and starring Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Ray Winstone, David Hemmings and Tom Courtenay, the film is being sold internationally by Winchester Films. Toronto Festival Director Piers Handling announced one international premiere, the wartime drama Dark Blue World from Kolya directo
  • UK box office down, but still looking up

    Despite a year-on-year increase in UK box office receipts during four of the first six months of 2001, total revenues for the first half are down 0.9% to $439.5m (£313.8m) However, this is almost entirely due to the exceptional performance of one film last year: Toy Story 2.February was the real cause of the year-on-year dip, despite this year's high-profile releases of Hannibal and What Women Want. February 2000 featured The Beach, The Green Mile and the ma
  • UK cinema industry unites to create marketing body

    As part of its remit to develop a sustainable film industry, UK strategy and funding body, The Film Council, has joined the All Industry Marketing for Cinema (AIM) to create a company to promote and market generic cinema-going in the UKThe newly-created Cinema Marketing Agency (CMA) is officially launched next month and will have a dual commercial remit; to secure strategic partners for the promotion of cinema-going throughout the territory, and to develop innovative marketing initiati
  • US actors, producers inch closer to a new contract

    US actors unions and the alliance of movie studios and TV networks resumed talks in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon after negotiators took the morning off to rest from a 17-hour negotiating session which finished on Monday at 2.30am.The two sides returned to the table at 2.30 and while they had hoped to have a resolution and a new actors contract in place before the Fourth Of July holiday today, it was looking unlikely at time of going to press that any announcements would be made.
  • Violette joins Myriad as head of music

    Independent music specialist Christopher Violette has joined Myriad Pictures as head of music. Reporting to Myriad president Kirk D'Amico and president of production Lucas Foster, he will music supervise a number of Myriad films as well as being responsible for overseeing all the company's music-related interests including the hiring of other music supervisors and composers, music licensing and soliciting soundtracks. He will also work closely with Myriad's parent company IN-motion AG
  • Vivendi, News Corp confirm Italian pay-TV merger

    Vivendi Universal and News Corp yesterday confirmed that they have reached a deal for the merger of their their respective Italian pay-TV businesses TELE+ and Stream which will create a single operator called TELE+. Italian regulatory authorities have yet to okay the venture, details of which first surfaced in April.As part of the agreement, News Corp will sell to Vivendi Universal 50% of the stake in Stream previously owned by Telecom Italia. As a result of this transaction, the TELE
  • Walters joins Memory Of Water

    UK actress Julie Walters is re-teaming with Lewis Gilbert, director of Educating Rita, the film which won her a Best Actress nomination at the 1983 Oscars.The Memory Of Water is currently shooting on the Isle Of Man before moving to Twickenham Studios in London. The film, which wraps on August 3, tells the story of three sisters coming to terms with their mother's death. Walters stars as the obsessively-vacuuming elder sister.Produced by Pacificus and Big Fish Film
  • Warner Home Video opens Hong Kong office

    Warner Home Video (WHV) launched its own Hong Kong affiliate company on July 5, becoming the first Hollywood studio to capitalise on a lucrative VCD market by establishing a wholly-owned affiliate, with a 12-strong sales and marketing staff.An estimated 95% of all Hong Kong households own a VCD player - a total of 1.6 million households.The move by the Hollywood giant is a sign of confidence that the fight against video piracy is finally having an effect in Hong Kong."War