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8 March 2002

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  • 2001: the greatest year in history, says Valenti

    The state of the industry is robust, declared Motion Picture Association Of America president and CEO Jack Valenti at exhibition conference ShoWest yesterday. Despite the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, the economic recession and the traumatised exhibition sector, "2001 was the greatest box office year in film history," he said.In his annual state of the industry address, the colourfully eloquent Valenti said that admissions in North America in 2001 reached 1.5bn, a 5% increase from 2000
  • 40 Days And 40 Nights

    Dir: Michael Lehmann. US. 2002. 95mins.Stripping the military uniform that he valiantly wore in his last two screen roles (Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down) for sexier civilian clothes in his new romantic comedy proves to be a good idea for broadening the appeal of fast-rising star Josh Hartnett among his young female constituency. Never mind that the romantic romp is based on a single, tiny idea - a hunk abstaining from sex for the duration of Lent - extended
  • Acting surprises at Cesars but Amelie wins top two

    Despite taking the awards for best film and director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie failed to dominate Saturday's French Cesar awards as expected, winning in four categories out of its 13 nominations.While Amelie's star, Audrey Tautou, has been widely recognised as a talent to watch and was generally considered the favourite for the best actress award (along with The Piano Teacher star, Isabelle Huppert), the prize went to Emanuelle Devos for her work in Jacques Aud
  • Ali takes on international contenders

    Michael Mann's Muhammad Ali biopic, simply titled Ali, took on a host of major international territories this week with inconsistent results.The film, for which stars Will Smith and Jon Voight are nominated for acting awards at this month's Academy Awards, came out fighting in France where it took second place with seven-day sales of 505,352 tickets (equivalent to $2.4m) from 579 screens. Although unable to knock out local heavy-hitter Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopat
  • All About The Benjamins

    Dir: Kevin Bray. US. 2002. 96 mins. With three mid-level hits for New Line - Friday, Next Friday and The Players Club - already under his belt, rapper -turned-multihyphenate film-maker Ice Cube continues in a cheerfully generic vein with the studio's All About The Benjamins, only this time with the emphasis more on buddy action than urban comedy. Uneven tone and a ragged, implausible script will limit the new offering's crossover and international potenti
  • Allen's Hollywood Ending to close San Fran fest

    The world premiere of Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending will close next month's San Francisco International Film Festival, the event announced this week.Expected to attend are George Hamilton, Mark Rydell and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who star in the comedy of Hollywood manners."It's our tribute to what Hollywood can do best - satirise itself," said Roxanne Messina Captor, executive director of festival organisers, the San Francisco Film Society.The festival's 45th edit
  • Alquimia Cinema's slate has Latin American flavour

    Madrid-based production house Alquimia Cinema's new slate of films reflects the increasing attractiveness of Spain as a marketplace for actors from across Latin America (particularly financially troubled Argentina), including Ricardo Darin (The Son Of The Bride, Nine Queens), Leonardo Sbaraglia (Intact), Cecilia Roth (All About My Mother) and Dario Grandinetti (Talk To Her).Darin will star alongside Mexico's Diego Luna (And Your Mama Too, Fr
  • Amnesia

    Dir: Gabriele Salvatores. Italy/Spain. 2002. 114mins.Amnesia is the second 'little' film to be fired off by Gabriele Salvatores while he tries to raise the funds to make an adaptation of Amitav Ghosh's novel The Calcutta Chromosome. Teeth (Denti, 2000) was a curious tale of precarious dental and mental health which failed critically and commercially in its pitch for postmodern grand guignol. Amnesia sees Salvatores going back to the d
  • Antitrust authority blocks Stream/Telepiu sale

    Italy's Antitrust Authority has frozen the deal which would have seen Rupert Murdoch's News Corp sell Italian pay-tv platform Stream to Vivendi Universal. The two media giants reached an agreement last month after News Corp bought Telecom Italia's 50% share of Stream for Euros 48m. The move enabled News Corp, which already owned the other 50%, to sell Stream to Vivendi, paving the way for Vivendi's Telepiu' to become the only pay-tv outfit operating in Italy. The Italian watchdo
  • AusFILM boosts location marketing activity

    AusFILM is dramatically stepping up its marketing of Australia to the film world. The conglomerate of private companies and government agencies moves into Fox Studios Australia from March 11 and will triple staff thanks to a near fourfold increase in government funds.There is "considerable scope" to increase the 6% of all runaway US film and television productions shot in Australia now, according to the business plan, providing the country can market itself with more coherence than in
  • Bavaria Film completes Grill Point, Tattoo sales

    In spite of an overall quiet AFM, Bavaria Film International (BFI) completed sales on the Jury Grand Prix/Silver Berlin Bear winner Grill Point (Halbe Treppe) and newcomer Robert Schwentke's thriller Tattoo. Only three weeks after the premiere of Andreas Dresen's film in the Berlinale official competition, BFI has already sold Grill Point to six territories - with Russia (Maywin Media) and Brazil (Estacao Cinema e Cultura) the latest territories to be taken.
  • BBC Films appoints Isabel Begg

    BBC Films, the film arm of the UK public broadcaster, has appointed Isabel Begg, formerly head of UK business and legal affairs at Miramax, as head of business and legal affairs.Begg will report to Jane Wright, who has been promoted from head of business development to the new role of head of rights and commercial affairs. Begg, who has been at Miramax UK for the last seven and a half years, has responsibility for overseeing all deals at BBC Films.Wright's enhanced role sees her
  • Brazilian exhibition race heats up

    International and local exhibitors in Brazil have stepped up the pace in their ongoing race to provide this hugely under-screened territory with more multiplexes. In December, Cinemark International dethroned local giant exhibitor Severiano Ribeiro from its dominant position of many years. The Texas-based circuit now boasts 258 screens, with an additional 40 screens in four sites planned to go up this year. Ribeiro operates 170 screens with a further 15 scheduled in 2002. The third
  • Brit TV watchdog demands respect from Ali G

    Working Title Films' Ali G IndaHouse, the feature debut of UK comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's spoof gangsta rapper, is heading for a showdown with. UK TV advertising watchdog BACC.Ali G's backer Universal said it has been told by BACC to get permission from the Queen, president George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair before it will approve the film's TV adverts. BACC has vetoed seven proposed spots for the comedy, which UIP is releasing in the UK in less than three weeks.
  • Carrie Fisher to host BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards

    Carrie Fisher, the writer and actress who famously played Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy, will host the British Academy Of Film & Television Arts/Los Angeles (BAFTA/LA)'s 11th annual Britannia Awards show on April 12. Star Wars creator George Lucas is being honoured at the awards show with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence In Film, while HBO Original Programming is receiving the Britannia Award for Excellence In Television. "It will be my pleasure to hos
  • Columbia picks up debut comedy Bobby Ewing

    Columbia Pictures has purchased the romantic comedy Bobby Ewing, the debut feature screenplay from US television writer/producer Linda Bloodworth, it was announced by Peter Schlessel, president of production for Columbia.Bobby Ewing is a comedy about an immigrant whose love for America is equalled only by his daring and desperate attempts to sneak into the country. After nearly two dozen border encounters, he begins to fall for an INS agent who finds it hard to resist his
  • Edinburgh film festival to honour Kon Ichikawa

    The first Edinburgh International Film Festival under new artistic director Shane Danielsen will pay tribute to the Japanese director Kon Ichikawa with a retrospective of 11 of his films spanning the decade 1953 to 1963. Now 86 years old, Ichikawa originally studied animation and made his cinema debut with the puppet feature A Girl Of Dojo Temple (1946). His early satirical comedies gained him a reputation as the 'Japanese Frank Capra' but he is best known to Western audiences
  • El Deseo confirms My Life Without Me cast

    The Almodovar brothers' Madrid-based production house El Deseo has confirmed casting on forthcoming English-language production My Life Without Me from director Isabel Coixet.Sarah Polley, Mark Ruffalo, Amanda Plummer and Deborah Harry are set to star in the $2.5m film, which begins shooting March 25 in Vancouver with Canada-based My Life Productions Inc co-producing. El Deseo is understood to be in talks with Good Machine International (GMI) to handle internationa
  • Epiphany Films to produce spiritual features

    Crusader Entertainment, LLC, has formed Epiphany Films, to develop and produce independent feature films with spiritual and religious themes. The announcement was made by Howard Baldwin, president and CEO of Crusader Entertainment, who also announced that Dr. Bob Beltz has been appointed director of special projects for Epiphany. Dr. Beltz, an ordained minister, will concentrate on marketing Epiphany's films to the emerging Christian market.Epiphany Films' first release, Josh
  • Fausto and Sorum are Fantasporto favourites

    Spain's Fausto 5.0 and South Korea's Sorum walked away the big winners of the 22nd annual edition of Portugal's fantasy and sci-fi oriented Oporto International Film Festival (Feb 22-Mar 3), better known as Fantasporto.Fausto 5.0, directed by Isidro Ortiz, Allex Olle and Carlos Padrissa, took home the official Fantasy section's top prize for best film while lead Eduard Fernandez, whose performance earned him Spain's top Goya award last month, grabbed the fest's bes
  • France leads Int'l cinema admissions league

    In a special Screen International analysis of global cinemagoing trends, France has come out as the biggest international territory by admissions, based on record-breaking figures that saw more people go to the cinema in France in 2001 than in any year since 1984.After France's 2001 total of 185m, the second highest territory by admissions, was Germany with 177.9m, which also had a bumper year in 2001, along with Japan (163m), the UK (156m), Spain (145m) and then Mexico (143m). Blockbu
  • Fribourg fest fetes Latin America, Asia and Africa

    Prominent figures of Afro-American cinema such as Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep), Billy Woodberry (Bless Their Little Hearts) and Haile Gerima (Bush Mama), and the South American documentary filmmakers Marta Rodriguez (Colombia), Vladimir Carvalho (Brazil) and Mario Handler (Uruguay) are among 50 directors who will be attending the 16th Fribourg International Film Festival from March 10-17 .The festival, which is dedicated to films from Latin Ameri
  • German producer and sales co to release Felsen

    Medien & Television Muenchen (MTM), producer of the Berlinale competition film Der Felsen (A Map Of The Heart), and the film's sales agent Bavaria Film International plan to release Dominik Graf's film themselves theatrically in Germany."We are going to try an experiment", explained executive producer Andreas Bareiss of MTM. "Since the film itself is an experiment, we are going to carry this experiment a step further by distributing the film via Concorde Film who will put their
  • Hong Kong cinema ticket promotion backfires

    A price promotion by the two largest theatre chains in Hong Kong backfired when movie-goers were charged full price for the most popular films.On February 25, UA and Broadway cinemas announced a four week promotion for Tuesdays and Wednesdays where tickets would be reduced by as much as $6.40 (HK$50) to $3.20 (HK$25). But movie-goers attracted by a promotional sign at one theatre were outraged when informed that the offer did not apply to five of the most popular movies in cinemas.
  • India removes restrictions on film investment

    The Indian government has lifted restrictions on foreign investment in the burgeoning film and broadcasting industries, in a landmark move that is expected to have wide-reaching effects on the growth of the sector.The move, on March 5, followed a review of the entertainment sector policy, with the Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of India, chaired by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, deciding to waive the requirement of government approval for the establishment of film and tel
  • Intermedia crash has Splendid knock-on effect

    Internationalmedia's cancellation of its proposed merger with Spyglass Entertainment has had a "knock-on" effect for rival German listed media company Splendid Medien, which saw its stock price plummet over 23% in trading on Wednesday morning.Splendid ended trading on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt at Euros 2.50 on Tuesday evening (March 5), but dropped by Euros 0.58 during trading on Wednesday morning.The downturn in Splendid's share price came after the company's announcement that it
  • Intermedia shares crash after merger cancellation

    Shares in Intermedia plummeted 65% on Monday after it cancelled a merger with production firm Spyglass Entertainment and slashed its earnings forecast.In an ad hoc disclosure to Frankfurt's Neuer Markt, the company said that Nigel Sinclair, Guy East and Moritz Borman will continue in their positions as co-chairmen of Intermedia. East and Sinclair had been expected to step down to make way for Spyglass co-chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, cashing in much of their shares in the proc
  • Intermedia shares crash after merger cancellation

    Intermedia saw two thirds of its value wiped out within hours on Monday after it cancelled its imminent merger with production firm Spyglass Entertainment and slashed its earnings forecast.Intermedia's Neuer Markt-listed stock fell as much as 66% before recovering slightly to Euros 7.21, down more than 62%. The company said that Nigel Sinclair and Guy East, who had been expected to step down to make way for Spyglass co-chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, would now continue as co-cha
  • Intermedia/Spyglass merger cancelled

    Intermedia and Spyglass Entertainment have called off their imminent merger, Intermedia announced on Monday in an ad hoc disclosure to Frankfurt's Neuer Markt.Intermedia said that Nigel Sinclair, Guy East and Moritz Borman will continue in their positions as co-chairmen of Intermedia. East and Sinclair had been expected to step down to make way for Spyglass co-chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum. Intermedia warned that it will be posting a pre-tax loss for 2001. The company ha
  • Italian government passes conflict of interest law

    The Italian Parliament has passed Silvio Berlusconi's controversial law on conflict of interest. Although the centre-left opposition stormed out of Parliament before the vote in a sign of protest, votes from Berlusconi's centre-right coalition were sufficient in number for the law to be passed.The main points that the new law addresses are as follows:* Government officials are not allowed private business activities. However, "mere ownership of a private company", as opposed to
  • Italy's Eagle swoops on two-picture Mandalay deal

    Eagle Pictures, the fast-expanding film and TV outfit based in Rome and Milan, has struck a two picture deal with Mandalay Pictures, the Paramount-based independent headed by Peter Guber. Mandalay had previously licensed movies in Italy through Cecchi Gori Pictures and more recently Medusa Film. Under the deal, Eagle has acquired Reginald Hudlin's Servicing Sara, a comedy starring Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley about a woman who attempts to track down her husband in Texas in
  • Judi Dench to star in Fry's Vile Bodies adaptation

    Judi Dench is expected to star in Bright Young Things, an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel Vile Bodies that marks UK actor Stephen Fry's directing debut.The story about the fashionable 'it' crowd in 1930s London could mark the Academy Award winning actresses' next production, depending on how financing comes together. Revolution Films, the UK production company headed by producer Andrew Eaton and director Michael Winterbottom, is now in pre-pre-production.Satiris
  • Kirch joins with Arcor for German VOD pilot

    Leo Kirch's embattled pay-TV platform Premiere is seeking to increase business by joining forces with Arcor Online to launch a six-month video-on-demand (VOD) pilot to download feature films via broadband networks. After registering at the Arcor platform, participants will be able to order feature films to view on their computer or TV screen so long as they have Windows MediaPlayer software and a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) to download the films at 768 Kbit per second from the Intern
  • Kuhn fund to raise Euros 99m for 10-picture slate

    With its first project Sin Eater, now in production (Screen Daily, March 1), Michael Kuhn's German-based media investment fund N1 European Film Produktions-GmbH & Co KG (N1 EFP) is planning to raise Euros 99 m by the end of 2002 to invest in the development and production of 10 English-language feature films over the next three years.Amongst the projects on Kuhn's development slate, that are being considered for production are: romantic comedy Exes, by James Curtis, broth
  • Lauren Bacall hands out Denmark's Bodil Awards

    Lauren Bacall was the guest of honour at Sunday's Bodil Awards in Denmark, where she handed the best film prize to director Ole Christian Madsen for Kira's Reason.Hollywood-legend Bacall was fresh off the shoot of Lars von Trier's Dogville, which wrapped on Friday in Sweden, and her presence added further glamour to the ceremony, which saw other awards go to actress Stine Stengade for her role in Kira's Reason, veteran Jens Okking (One Hand Clapping
  • MDP reports fifth consecutive quarterly profit

    MDP Worldwide Entertainment, Mark Damon's production and sales outfit which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has reported financial results for the first quarter ended December 31, 2001 reflecting the fifth consecutive quarterly profit reported by the company since Damon, its chairman and CEO, took over the helm and restructured the company.MDP reported net income of $504,000 (US$ 319,000), or $0.003 per share on 159,119,378 weighted average shares outstanding, for the first qu
  • MIP-TV market seeks relevance with dates switch

    MIP-TV, the Spring TV programmes market in Cannes, is to shift its dates from April to March as of next year.The move is intended to make the festival more relevant to buyers and sellers and will mean a March 24 start in 2003 compared with April 15 this year. Organisers, Reed Midem said: "March will make it easier for producers and distributors to close deals before the summer. It will also allow professionals to have more time between MIP-TV and other industry events in May." These in
  • Mothman leads openers, Ocean's goes top

    The UK box office chart saw a battle of holdovers this week as only one new film, Helkon SK's The Mothman Prophecies, received a wide opening. Mothman, a thriller purportedly based on true events, opened in fifth place with a gross of $1.1m (£762,516) from 286 sites - including $53,692 (£37,853) of previews from 183 sites on Thursday. Starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, previously seen together in Gregory Hoblit's Primal Fear, The Mothman Prophecies i
  • Ocean's Eleven breaks $200m int'l barrier

    Warner Bros International cruised past the $200m mark over the weekend with Oceans Eleven, bringing the film's worldwide total to over $390m. The estimated weekend take for Steven Soderbergh's star-studded caper was $16.7m, bringing the film's total to $210m.The success of Oceans Eleven adds to Warner International's achievement on Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone which has so far grossed over $600m in international territories.Over the weekend, Oce
  • On The Road To Emmaus

    Dir: Markku Polonen. Finland. 2001. 77mins.Markku Polonen has been on Finland's film-making scene for nearly two decades, but On The Road To Emmaus buzzes with the irrepressible anarchic spirit of a first or second feature. Premiered in Helsinki last October, the film had local critics calling Polonen a Finnish Fellini and, both in its theme - of a man reliving his childhood - and in its exuberant treatment, this does, indeed, have the feel of a low-rent Nordic Amar
  • PGA votes for Moulin Rouge, WGA Park, Mind

    Two more talent guilds dished out their annual awards over the weekend, adding fuel to speculation about which films will take home Academy Awards later this month. Last night (Sunday), the Producers Guild Of America (PGA) shook things up by naming Moulin Rouge its best picture of 2001 beating favourites The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring and A Beautiful Mind.Director Baz Luhrmann, Fred Baron and Martin Brown won the PGA prize. In the last 12 years,
  • Procacci launches Australian production outfit

    Italian producer Domenico Procacci has announced the formation of Fandango Australia Pty Ltd, a new production entity combining both Australian and European financial sources. The first project to be made by the company will be Rolf de Heer's Alexandra's Project which will go into production later this month.The directors of the company are Procacci and his Australian collaborators, directors Rolf de Heer and Richard Lowenstein, marketing and acquisition executive Sue Murray and
  • Pumpkin

    Dirs: Adam Larson Broder, Tony R Abrams. US. 2002. 122min.Too rambling and diffuse for its own good, Pumpkin, Adam Larson Broder and Tony R Abrams feature directorial debut, is a youth comedy that suffers from an uncertain tone and conflicting intentions. Christina Ricci, one of the most audacious actresses of her generation, is well cast as an ambitious member of a college sorority club, determined to use any means to become Sorority of the Year. The comedy vacillates
  • Pusher director Refn shoots English-language debut

    Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn starts shooting his long-anticipated English-language debut Fear X today, with John Turturro signed up to star and backing from the UK's Moviehouse Entertainment.(March 11).The cast includes US veteran James Remar, Canada's Deborah Kara Unger and Sweden's Jacqueline Ramel. Tom Sizemore signed up last year but had to be replaced when the shoot was pushed back for financing reasons.Refn, who made his mark with his searing debut Pusher
  • Record number of submissions for Animation fest

    A record 1,000 entries from more than 40 countries were submitted for the 11th International Animation Film Festival Stuttgart which will be staged from March 22-27 showing a total of 425 films with enlarged competition sections and a more international slant.This year, four competitive sections - International Competition, Young Animation, Tricks for Kids and Feature Animation - will offer a total of Euros 54,500 in prize-money.The International Competition, for example, will f
  • Rings grosses $6.8m from 2-day Japanese debut

    Lord Of The Rings grossed a powerful $6.8m (Y900m) over its opening two-day weekend in Japan, recording 620,000 admissions from 600 screens. While impressive in itself, the film's debut weekend was nowhere near the level of business that Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone generated, which grossed a record $12.8m (Y1.57 billion) and 1.38 million admissions at 340 screens on its first two days last November.A spokesman for distributor Nippon Herald that Lord Of The
  • Sal Ladestro gets senior vp stripes at CTFDI

    Sal Ladestro has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing and distribution, acquisitions and local productions, for Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International. Ladestro will report to Nigel Clark, senior executive vice president of marketing at CTFDI, on all matters relating to marketing, and to Mark Zucker, senior executive vice president of CTDFI, in all matters relating to distribution. Ladestro will continue to develop, implement and supervise international
  • San Sebastian, Toulouse team for Argentina promo

    Argentina already has four films heading for September's San Sebastian International Film Festival after the event teamed with Toulouse's Latin American Cinema Screenings to trawl for films from Latin America.Films selected by the two events will screen to professionals in Toulouse in March before heading on to San Sebastian, Spain's leading film festival in September. Launched under the banner Cinema In Progress, the initiative is aimed at tracking Latin American features at post-prod
  • Secretary sold to multiple territories for Alibi

    UK-based sales house Alibi Films International has sold a slew of international territories on its US romantic drama Secretary, including deals with Eagle Pictures for Italy and NonStop Entertainment for Scandinavia.The film, which stars James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Lesley Ann Warren, went to LNK for Portugal, Yehmax Film for South Korea and Luxor Entertainment for Russia. Lions Gate has pencilled in a September release in North America.Other deals on the film saw
  • Sex Up to become Columbia Germany's sixth

    Florian Gaertner's screwball teenage comedy Sex Up will be the sixth local feature to be produced by Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion GmbH (DCPF), the German production arm of Columbia TriStar Film.DCPF's production partner on the project, which is being scripted by Gaertner with Jakob Hilpert (Kleine Kreise), will be Berlin-based outfit Schramm Film whose production of Christian Petzold's The State I Am In (Die Innere Sicherheit) won the "Best Film
  • Shanghai noon for Hollywood as China opens up

    China became the unexpected focusof attention on the first day of this year's ShoWest convention in LasVegas, with news that Beijing authorities are prepared to relax film importrestrictions for its planned digital cinema circuit and the announcement byWarner Bros International Theatres of a ground-breaking nine-screen multiplexin Shanghai. To cap it all, Miramax revealed that China was one of QuentinTarantino's chosen locations for his new film, Kill Bill.In the next two to thr
  • Simon Kenny leaves Disney for WBITD

    Simon D Kenny has been named senior vice president, Europe, for Warner Bros International Television Distribution (WBITD), assuming the responsibilities of Joshua A Berger who was recently promoted to the newly created position of executive vice president and managing director, Warner Bros UK.Based in London, Kenny will oversee WBITD's European sales force as well as being responsible for identifying equity investments, strategic alliances and co-production opportunities.Reporti
  • Skins

    Dir: Chris Eyre. US. 2002. 86minViewers looking to Native American director Chris Eyre for a buoyant follow-up to his 1996 indie smash Smoking Signals will come away disappointed with Skins, a film that like his feature debut, examines life at a dilapidated Indian reservation from the inside, but lacks the former's coherence, emotional engagement and power. Indeed, what begins as an exploration of the shabby socio-economic conditions of the all but neglected res
  • Sogecable to get five more years of Columbia pics

    Spanish media group Sogecable has renewed its output TV deal with Columbia Tristar International Television for another five years beginning in January 2003. The original deal, signed in 1997, gave Sogecable exclusive rights to Columbia films for its pay-TV and pay-per-view (PPV) services on platforms Canal Plus and Canal Satelite Digital (CSD), the latter launched the same year. Titles included in the new deal for CSD's PPV service include America's Sweethearts, A Knight's
  • South Korean production steps up activity

    A frenzy of activity seems to have taken over South Korea's production sector. After a record 49% market share for 2001 that proved local films can make big money, more and more projects, many from the best known names in the Korean industry, are getting underway. "At the moment there's plenty of money available, to the point where we're seeing a shortage in available manpower," says Hwang Dong-Mee of the Korean Film Commission's Research and Development Department. "Although curren
  • Spain gets new travelling filmhouse: Club del Cine

    A group of Spanish industry vets have joined to launch an innovative new project to send little-seen films out to all corners of Spain.Launching with an initial first-year budget of around Euros 240,000 largely from the pockets of its six founders, the Club del Cine will work as a kind of "travelling filmhouse" to distribute mostly auteur and Spanish titles, as well as some international classics. Films will be subtitled rather than dubbed, the latter being standard practice in Spain.
  • Spain's Admira plans cash boost for Lolafilms

    Spanish production house Lolafilms looks set to receive a much needed capital injection of Euros 21.6m by the end of March. Telefonica media subsidiary Admira, 70% majority owner of Lola, has proposed a refinancing scheme to balance Lola's estimated losses of Euros 11m and carry out a capital amplification with the participation of some, if not all, of Lola's shareholders. The transaction will take place at a shareholders' meeting on March 22. Lolafilms CEO Andres Vicente Gomez
  • Ster Century Europe sells three national circuits

    South African Media Group Primedia and Kersaf Investments have sold their cinema interests, Ster Century Europe, in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia for $18.5m.The cinemas were bought by UCI Central Europe BV, a joint venture between United Cinemas International (UCI) and venture capital and private equity fund Argus Capital Group. The joint company was established in the late 90s to develop multiplex cinemas in Eastern and central Europe, but under the present arrangement, UCI
  • THX and Kinepolis in joint-branding move

    Lucasfilm THX has announced that Brussels-based Kinepolis Group has become Europe's first multiplex operator to adopt THX certification in every cinema screen, including its last remaining 30 non-THX screens. To promote its 'Total-THX' status, the two companies will adopt a co-branding campaign featuring both of their corporate logos."We want to position Kinepolis as the theatre that never compromises on quality," said Bob Claeys, international projection and sound director. "R
  • Two Euro training programmes launched

    The Brussels-based Cartoon initiative and the German Federal Film Board (FFA) have joined forces to launch the Cartoon Movie Coaching Programme at this year's Cartoon Movie co-production market for animated feature films in Babelsberg from March 14-16.The Coaching Programme is designed to introduce up-and-coming producers and students of animation to the financing market and enable them to make important contacts within the European animation industry for their future careers. T
  • Two movies share Sundance/Maryland prize

    The Sundance Institute and the Producers Club Of Maryland have named two films as the recipient of the 2002 Producers Club Of Maryland Fellowship: Jacob & Josh Kornbluth's The Best Thief In The World and Tatia Rosenthal & Etgar Kerets' $9.99.The annual fellowship helps fund a film-maker's post-Sundance Lab and pre-production expenses, including casting, budgeting and location scouting. Each project receives half of the $10,000 award. Past recipientns have included Michael
  • UK actors cast for Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself

    Denmark's Lone Scherfig is following her Berlin Silver Bear-winning Italian For Beginners with Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself, which started shooting on location in Glasgow on Monday March 4. The director's first English-language film features a number of young UK actors including Jamie Sieves (Mean Machine) as the main character Wilbur, Adrian Rawlins (Harry Potter, Breaking The Waves) as his brother Harbour and Shirley Henderson (Harry Potte
  • UK film certification boss to stand down

    Andreas Whittam Smith is standing down as president of UK certification body the British Board of Film Classification.Whittam Smith, credited with liberalising certification with regard to sexual content, made the decision after being appointed First Church Estates Commissioner, which is a Crown appointment. He steps down on July 31, having held the post for over four and a half years."The board is now seen as an open and accountable organisation with a set of guidelines which r
  • US statistics offer hope for international markets

    The current health of the North American distribution and exhibition market is generally assumed to be an indicator of the aches and pains that can be expected to occur in many international territories. If so, then the industry can allow itself a cautious sigh of relief.Here is a breakdown of the latest statistics concerning North American distribution and exhibition as reported to this year's ShoWest by both the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Associatio
  • Vivendi Universal posts Euros 13.6bn net loss

    Vivendi Universal posted a Euros 13.6bn net loss in 2001, due to a massive Euros 15.2bn goodwill write down, the result of a raft of expensive acquisitions. However, the group has met its operational targets for its media and communications division.Presenting VU's full-year report to the press March 4 in Paris, Jean-Marie Messier appeared eager to address the concerns of the financial markets regarding VU's accounting practice and the existence of hidden risks. VU's chairman also play
  • Vultures circle as Kirch misses debt repayment

    Studios and other creditors are poised to pick choice morsels from the body of the Kirch group. The once glorious German media group this week also flirted with insolvency after it missed a loan repayment.According to the heavyweight Suedduetsche Zeitung Kirch is seeking to shed part of the debts accumulated at its Premiereworld pay-TV operation by offering the major US studios stakes in the loss-making service. Althought the paper did not name the creditors, Premiere has output
  • We Were Soldiers tops chart for Paramount and Icon

    Mel Gibson's star shone bright at the North American box office over the weekend as We Were Soldiers, his latest war epic financed by his own company Icon Entertainment with Paramount Pictures, opened at the number one spot with $20.2m. Gibson stars as Lt Col Hal Moore, on whose book We Were Soldiers Once'And Young the film is based, who led the first US battle against the North Vietnamese in 1965.Written and directed by Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace, the