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9 June 2001

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  • $100m double boost for German film funding

    $100m double boost for German film funding Mediability and MDF funds launch in Germany, bringing new $100m revenue stream onlineGerman media mogul Herbert Kloiber's CTM Concept TV & Merchandising is to serve as the production and international distribution partner for the new Munich-based media fund Mediability, which was launched last week.The fund, which aims to raise up to $47.5m (Euro 56m) from private investors by the end of 2002, will concentrate on financing
  • 10 year forecast: int'l box office keeps growing

    The latest ten-year outlook for the worldwide theatrical exhibition sector looks stagnant, but increasingly focused on international and developing markets. According to the 4th edition of Informa Group's survey Global Film: Exhibition & Distribution, box office revenues are set to rise by $6bn or some 36% to $24bn between 2001 and 2010. But the data shows gross revenues only and makes no adjustments for inflation.Underlying admissions over the same period are forecast to
  • Actress Fiorentino countersues Germany's Art Oko

    US actress Linda Fiorentino filed a response and cross-complaint yesterday in the Los Angeles Superior Court action brought against her by Art Oko Film, the German production company of abandoned film Till The End Of Time. Art Oko sued Fiorentino earlier this year claiming that she "held production of the picture hostage to her whims", refusing to report for rehearsals, makeup and camera tests and claiming illness even though an insurance doctor found that she was in good health.
  • AtomShockwave shuts up London shop

    On-line film distributor AtomShockwave has confirmed that it is closing its London office as part of widespread cuts across the company only months after the on-line giant was created from the merger of AtomFilms and Shockwave.The San Francisco-based company, formed in December from the union of the two internet sites, is slashing its 170-strong staff worldwide by two thirds. The cutbacks mean closing offices in New York and Los Angeles as well as London, although a spokesperson said t
  • Before Night Falls falls foul of UK censor

    Before Night Falls, Julian Schnabel's acclaimed biopic of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, has fallen foul of UK censor, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).Before agreeing to certify the film, the BBFC demanded a scene involving the capture of a bird in prison be cut under the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act of 1937. 'The bird seems to have been lassoed round the neck with a rope tied to the end of a stick,' said a BBFC statement. 'As it flaps, appearing to fight fra
  • Belgian Film Archive wins funding reprieve

    Belgium's federal government decided today to increase annual subsidies to the Royal Belgian Film Archives and Cinematheque by 70% to $1.7m (Euros2m). This comes into effect from 2002.The decision follows months of heavy lobbying by both local and international film personalities, including Cannes festival head Gilles Jacob, Belgian film-maker Andre Delvaux, Flanders Film Fest chief Jacques Dubrulle, former Netherlands Film Museum curator Eric De Kuyper and Martin Scorsese, who recentl
  • BSkyB axes film production arm

    UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB is axing Sky Pictures, the prolific film production arm that was out to challenge Channel 4 and the BBC's established feature operations.A spokesperson said on Thursday that the broadcasting giant expected to close the division within months. Sky Pictures' 17 staff were told this week that the operation would be shut within a time frame that would be decided after consulting them.The spokesperson said that the closure was part of a strategic move t
  • Canal Plus Group hires Parize, Jezequel

    Vivendi Universal subsidiary, Canal Plus Group has appointed Isabelle Parize as chief operating officer of Canal Plus Distribution and Jean-Francois Jezequel as senior vice president, technology.Parize, who has held a variety of marketing positions within Procter & Gamble and Schwarzkopf Henkel, will be responsible for Canal Plus' distribution businesses in France: Canal Plus Distribution, NC Numericable and CanalSatellite. Also co-ordinating international marketing operations, she rep
  • Chuck Speed leaves Regent, sets up consultancy

    Chuck Speed, senior vice president of business affairs and finance at Regent Entertainment, is leaving the company to form his own consulting practice in entertainment finance and related matters. Stephen P Jarchow, Regent's chairman and CEO, has entered into a consulting and first look agreement with Speed, who will number Jarchow Investment Group and its affiliates his first client.Since Sept 1998, Speed has been managing business and legal affairs and working with outside counsel o
  • Closet, booming exhibition lift Gaumont Q1 figures

    Beleaguered French major Gaumont has seen its sales jump 44% for the first quarter of 2001. This comes as a welcome reprieve for the company, which saw revenues drop 50% in the last quarter of 2000 and 15% for the full year, mostly due to the dismal box office performance of two of its big titles, Vatel and Just Visiting (Les Visiteurs En Amerique).The company had registered a massive Euros66.7m loss in 2000 (compared to a Euros8.9m profit in 1999), a figure roughl
  • Columbia TriStar boards Waddington's House

    Columbia TriStar Brazil has boarded the next film by Andrucha Waddington, director of international hit Me, You, Them (Eu, Tu, Eles). Budgeted at $3.5m, high for Brazilian standards, the drama, titled The House Of Sand, will be co-produced by Me, You, Them production house Conspiracao and prominent Brazilian producer Luiz Carlos Barreto. Columbia TriStar has also advanced financing for the script development. The story of a woman who lives in isolation and sees the
  • Cyprus becomes focus for multiplex builders

    Mediterranean sunspot, Cyprus is to get its second multiplex next month with the opening in Larnaca of a six-screen theatre operated by K Cineplex.DJK Karatatis, the local Cypriot trading group which built and operates the K Cineplexes, opened its first site in Limassol in late 1999 and plans to open another six-screener in Nicosia in December.The new complex is situated close to the centre of Larnaca, which already boasts a number of one- and two-screen cinemas. In addition to
  • De Luca named production chief at DreamWorks

    Michael De Luca has been confirmed as the new head of production at DreamWorks Pictures, ending weeks of speculation as to whether the former New Line production chief would join the DreamWorks fold. De Luca reports directly to DreamWorks Pictures co-head Walter Parkes and studio principal Jeffrey Katzenberg.De Luca takes over the post which had been temporarily filled by Katzenberg after Bob Cooper departed the studio in July 1999. He will be responsible for overseeing development an
  • Double Oscar winnner Anthony Quinn dies at 86

    Two-time Academy Award winning actor Anthony Quinn died on Sunday in a Boston hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 86.Quinn, a spiky character actor who appeared in more than 100 movies, was perhaps best known for his title role in 1964's Zorba The Greek, a performance he claimed was his personal favourite. However, his two Best Supporting Actor Oscars came courtesy of 1952's Viva Zapata, directed by Elia Kazan, and Vincente Minnelli's 1956 Lust For Life,
  • Dutch bureaucracy floors film funds

    Policy makers from the Dutch ministries of finance and economic affairs have been quick to blame the slow bureaucratic machinery in Brussels, but when Labour politician and former documentary maker Hillie Molenaar started asking questions in parliament, it transpired that the Dutch bureaucrats had not even sent off its proposal to the European Commission.Now, the Dutch Film Fund has temporarily frozen its budget for projects that are being financed privately through the country's tax b
  • Edinburgh festival to salute Herzog documentaries

    Maverick German director Werner Herzog will be the subject of this year's retrospective at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 12-26). The festival will focus exclusively on his documentary work, which includes such titles as Herdsmen Of The Sun (1992), Bells From The Deep (1993) and Little Dieter Needs To Fly (1997). A larger event, covering the entire spectrum of Herzog's career will unfold concurrently at the National Film Theatre in London.A key f
  • EM.TV gets animated with double pick-up

    EM.TV & Merchandising has acquired international distribution rights for the animated versions of Michael Ende's Momo and Astrid Lindgren's Karlsson On The Roof.EM.TV will be marketing the TV, audio, video, publishing and merchandising rights as part of its Junior portfolio for the two properties which are both being developed as a feature film and 26-part TV series.The Momo feature film is being produced by German animation house TFC Trickompany (which is p
  • Flanders Film Fest to host World Soundtrack Awards

    This year's Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent is to host the inaugural ceremony of the World Soundtrack Awards. The 18 October event, which will honour achievements in the field of film music composition, will precede a film concert presenting music from Oscar winning composers Gabriel Yared (The English Patient) and Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven). Both composers are set to conduct the National Orchestra of Belgium.The World Soundtrack Awards have been
  • FTD takes all French rights to 29 Palms

    FTD Entreprises, a division of France Television Distribution (FTD), the film and television rights trading arm of French public broadcaster France Television, has acquired all French rights (theatrical, television and home video) to Alliance Atlantis' 29 Palms. This underscores FTD's commitment to aggressively strengthening its international film sales and French and foreign rights trading activities.California-set 29 Palms, a second effort by South American film-maker L
  • George Lucas to get 11th BAFTA/LA Britannia Award

    The British Academy Of Film And Television Arts Los Angeles (BAFTA/LA) will give its annual Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence In Film to George Lucas. The award will be presented during a gala event in LA on Nov 10.Since the mid-1970s, Lucas has directed and/or produced nine films on location in the UK including the Indiana Jones trilogy, the first Star Wars trilogy and The Phantom Menace, Labyrinth and Willow.Lucas is currently in post
  • Il Mestiere Delle Armi (The Profession of Arms)

    Dir: Ermanno Olmi. Italy/France/Germany, 2001. 104 mins.Veteran Italian auteur Ermanno Olmi has come up with a hermetically-sealed historical epic that some will find ravishingly poetic, others merely boring. Not a few viewers will shuttle between these two states: something of an Italian Tarkowsky, Olmi has the rare talent of transfixing his audience between yawns. Commercially, this story of a minor scuffle during the Wars of Religion that ravaged 16th-century Europe is unlikely t

    Pearl Harbor has performed well on its debut in the international market, led by a strong showing in Italy. As it started its international roll-out at the weekend Buena Vista International's World War II epic suggested a new trend in Italy, which has traditionally all but closed down for the summer season. Michael Bay's film rallied a strong $1.95m (L4.47bn) from 420 screens, recording a $4,653 screen average. Until recently most Italian cinemas closed their doors between May and Sept
  • JSA hits top spot in Japan

    Joint Security Area (JSA), the highest grossing Korean film of 2000, debuted at number one on the Japanese box office chart following its release on May 26. Distributed jointly by Cine Quanon and Amuse Pictures, which also handled the 1999 Korean megahit Shiri, JSA enjoyed the widest release of any Korean film to play in Japan. It opened on 225 screens in the Toho chain. In Japan's nine major cities, JSA grossed $1,012,785 in its first week on release
  • Kimatrai to take over Fox office in Australia

    Korean cinemas were besieged by a raft of new releases, but it was not the predicted winner that took the spot. Beating Blade II, was CJ Entertainment's unlikely blockbuster The Way Home. It also had a mighty impressive two-day screen average of $13,700.It is the story of a seven-year old boy who goes to live with his grandmother in the country. But it confirms the status director Lee Jeong-hyang, who is the only Korean female director to have done really well at the box-
  • Mediacs moves into film licensing

    German multimedia producer mediacs has followed rival e-m-s new media into the film licensing business. It has sealed an output deal for the production and distribution of DVDs for films from Berlin-based production house TTD Checkpoint Berlin.The first TTD productions to be released on mediacs' own DVD label will be Peter Patzak's South Africa-set thriller Falling Rocks and Hans Joerg Thurn's Marmor, Stein & Eisen.Mediacs has handled the production of DVDs for suc
  • No room for Russian films at Moscow festival

    The Moscow International Film Festival, which runs June 21-30, has come under criticism in the local press with the announcement of a competition line-up this year without any Russian entry. Sergei Bodrov's US-produced English language entry The Quickie, starring Russian actor Vladimir Mashkov, should however go some way towards satisfying Muscovite audiences hungry for home-grown stars. International guests expected to attend include Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn and Dennis Hopper.
  • Norsk's last film gets blockbuster roll-out

    The last feature to roll out from the now disbanded Norwegian state production outfit Norsk Film will benefit from the highest p&a budget ever for a local film.Thomas Robsahm's $3.4m The Greatest Thing, about a rural femme fatale who simultaneously marries three men only to run away from all of them, was last week granted a promotional budget of $400,000, a figure which puts even the biggest US blockbusters to shame, according to veteran distributor Njorn Hownvoll. The costume e
  • Norway backs Most People...

    Production outfit Motlys has been granted $760,000 from the Norwegian Film Institute for portmanteau project Most People Live In China - a single feature film with eight directors and six screenwriters attached. The directors and writers involved are a combination of well-known names and newcomers.Each segment of the $942,000 film takes place in one single location - a gas station - and each main character will represent the ideology of one of the eight major Norwegian political
  • Optimum picks up classics for new video/DVD label

    UK distributor Optimum Releasing has picked up UK rights on two classic arthouse titles from TF1 for release through start-up video and DVD distribution and sales operation World Cinema.Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers and Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages Of Fear will both be re-mastered by Optimum and released on video and DVD this year. Optimum will first release Rocco theatrically in the UK this September.The company will also plug future key in
  • Optimum takes Eloge De L'Amour for UK

    Independent UK distributor Optimum Releasing has picked up all UK rights on Jean Luc-Godard's Cannes competition entry Eloge De L'Amour (In Praise Of Love).Described as a meditation on the themes of memory and history, the film was sold on the Croisette this year by Wild Bunch, and was hailed as a return to form for the enigmatic French director.Optimum, set up by Will Clarke two years ago, plans to release the film theatrically in the UK later this year. The compa
  • Pathe and Sky Pictures sign eight-picture deal

    Pathe's UK arm and Sky Pictures, the film production arm of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB, have signed a production and distribution agreement for up to eight films over the next two years.The partners will jointly select films, with Pathe handling distribution in the UK, France, Benelux and Switzerland and international sales. The first two films in the deal are Thunderpants, directed by Peter Hewitt and produced by Graham Broadbent, and The One And Only, directed by Si
  • Pau And His Brother

    Dir: Marc Recha. Spain/ France. 2000. 110 mins. Marc Recha's third feature starts from the principle of focussing on tiny moods and moments rather than grand dramatic set-pieces and allowing a story to evolve spontaneously instead of marshalling events in a structured sequence. While potentially fruitful, the result in this case is dull in the extreme and, for all the film's integrity and ambitions, the number of walk-outs at the screening caught in Cannes suggests that it taxes the
  • Pearl Harbor hit at UK box office

    It may have seen off the opposition comfortably, but it was not all plain sailing for Buena Vista International's (BVI) Pearl Harbor on its opening weekend in the UK, its first major international outing since its US debut a couple of weeks ago. The film, which proved critic-proof on its Stateside opening, shows signs of having been hit by the vitriolic media broadsides in the UK, where it took $3,694,177 (£2,611,783) from 457 sites over the three-day weekend and $4,349,571 (£3,075,147
  • Preston unexpectedly quits UK's Metrodome

    Rupert Preston has quit as head of UK independent distributor Metrodome Distribution.Preston, who released titles including Human Traffic, Shadow Of The Vampire, and Chopper while at Metrodome, confirmed that he will leave the company in late August after overseeing upcoming releases. Metrodome group chairman John Hall said that the publicly-quoted company is still committed to theatrical distribution, and both sides said the split was amicable. "He felt it

    Dir: Cedric Kahn. France. 2001. 124 mins. An immensely detailed study of a notorious mass murderer and his hunters, Roberto Succo is an impressive but subdued piece of work which, despite an extraordinary central performance, never delivers on the director's promise to slip the audience inside the mind of a madman. A play about the case by Bernard-Marie Koltes was picketed by police in France who regarded it as romanticising a cop killer. By no stretch of the imagination could the f
  • Scorsese, Philips team up for widescreen promotion

    Martin Scorsese has teamed up with Philips Consumer Electronics to launch a global education campaign designed to provide consumers with a clear understanding of widescreen-formatted television (16:9) and to promote the viewing of movies on widescreen versus standard television size.The campaign, dubbed "See What You've Been Missing", shows how widescreen televisions provide the best movie-viewing experience without compromising the original content of the film as with the more tradit
  • SF backs low-budget film incentive

    The Danish arm of Nordic major Svensk Filmindustri (SF) has signed a first look deal with the young production outfit Buttenschoen & Budde. 'Our aim is to finance and initiate projects from young professionals and new talents,' explained producer Mads Buttenschoen. 'What we can offer is an incentive for the development of low-budget features. With the support from SF we can finance the development of five so far. You could call us a development company, as we don't mind co-producing th
  • Showcase closes deals on thriller Pendulum

    LA-based producer/distributor Showcase Entertainment has completed a raft of deals on its thriller Pendulum during and after this year's Cannes Film Market. The film stars Rachel Hunter and James Russo and was produced by Blue Thunder Films and On Deck Productions; it was directed by James D Deck.Buyers included Videoville Showtime Inc for French-speaking Canada, TOT Media for Spain, Gussi for Mexico, Mediafilm Network for Italian-speaking Europe, Shoval Films for Israel, Spent
  • Shrek gives Pearl Harbor a run for its money in US

    Buena Vista's Pearl Harbor clung on to the top spot at the North American box office in its second weekend with a three-day take of $30m, but was closely followed by the dazzlingly successful Shrek from DreamWorks, which in its third weekend, took $28.4m. The Michael Bay-directed blockbuster fell over 50% from its $75m four-day opening over Memorial Day weekend, although its $119.3m ten-day gross is still a mightily impressive achievement for a three hour film. As for
  • Ster-Kinekor slashes SA screens by 20%

    Leading South African distributor and exhibitor Ster-Kinekor is to close five multiplexes and put another four up for sale. This amounts to 20% of its cinema screens in the country. In addition, there have been job losses at head office and regional offices in order to cut costs. Cinemas in Mabopane, Highgate, Parow, Cloisters and Westgate, in the coloured township of Mitchell's Plain, have all been shut down. Ster-Kinekor has also put up for sale cinema complexes in Pinetown, Kimberle
  • Steve Mertz promoted to senior vp at Warner Europe

    Steve Mertz has been promoted to senior vice president, legal and business affairs, and general counsel - Europe for Warner Bros, from his previous position as vice president and general counsel - Europe.In his new post, Mertz will head Warner's European legal and business affairs department, managing the team of lawyers responsible for representing the company's corporate interests as well as overseeing those Warner Bros lawyers who directly support key operating divisions.He
  • Stockmarket confirms Kinowelt share trading probe

    The Frankfurt-based German Federal Securities Supervisory Office (BaWe) has said that it has begun formal investigations into alleged insider trading at Kinowelt. The move comes after shares in Kinowelt, listed on the Nemax50 blue-chip segment of Germany's Neuer Markt, lost some 40% of their value in the three days ahead of an announcement on March 23 that the company had failed to meet 2000 earnings targets. "We have launched a formal insider trading probe related to Kinowelt,"
  • Swordfish

    Directed by Dominic Sena. US 2001. 100 mins.After a couple of major flops (Battleship Earth, Lucky Numbers), John Travolta is again in top form as the morally ambiguous protagonist of the techno thriller, Swordfish, playing a dangerously charismatic spy who propagates his own brand of patriotism. Boasting a sleek look and at least three outstanding set-pieces, Dominic Sena's action film could be criticised for having a conv
  • Taormina promo launches Italy's summer renaissance

    Continuing the drive to promote the Taormina Film Festival as a major summer launchpad for international blockbusters, Italy's multiplex association is screening a film depicting the history of the 47-year-old festival before the main feature on 200 multiplex screens across the country.In addition to this initiative, which will last throughout the month of June, Taormina and the participating multiplexes, which include Warner Village cinemas, UCI cinemas, Mediaport, Cinelandia and Cine
  • Taurus

    Dir: Alexander Sokurov. Russia. 2001.90 mins. Alexander Sokurov's examination of fallible tyranny continues. After Moloch, in which Hitler and Eva Braun conducted what was often a non-relationship at Berchtesgarden, comes Taurus, in which Lenin, crippled by a stroke, negotiates a living death in a requisitioned mansion surrounded by strangers no longer terrified of him. Sokurov's second film in his planned tetralogy on men of power in the 20th century, suffused in a he
  • TF1 picks up Pearl, signs deal with local producer

    TF1 has acquired free-TV rights to Disney's Pearl Harbor, which the French broadcaster will show from autumn 2004.The latest Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer title, released in France on June 6 by Gaumont Buena Vista International, attracted a strong 141,268 admissions on its first day. Although this does not come close to other 2001 chart toppers, such as French films La Verite 2 (503,000 admissions on its opening day) and Le Pacte Des Loups (301,000 admissions),
  • Toho moves into DVD rental

    Leading Japanese distributor and exhibitor Toho is to enter the DVD rental market with the release of Ridley Scott's Hannibal on November 9. The company will join rivals Toei and Shochiku, which are already competing in the rental DVD business.The Hannibal double set will contain both the 131-minute theatrical version and a 218-minute director's cut, with 41 minutes of unreleased material, together with special behind-the-scenes reports and exclusive interviews with cast
  • UIP to go solo in Poland

    Casting a vote of confidence in the local market, international distribution giant United International Pictures is to go it alone in Poland. It will release films through a newly-created local arm. Among the first UIP titles to go through the wholly-owned Polish subsidiary are The Mummy Returns, Shrek, Tomb Raider and Bridget Jones's Diary. The company, which handles theatrical releases from Universal, Paramount and DreamWorks, previously released films thr
  • UK writer slams agency signing-on fees

    UK novelist James Follett has launched an on-line attack on Avalon Films, accusing the British production company of using his name as "window dressing" to encourage would-be screenwriters to pay registration fees.Follett put up a warning on his own website after Avalon - which is not related to the UK TV company Avalon Television or its film arm Avalon Motion Pictures - repeatedly announced start dates for film adaptations of his books but failed to shoot a single reel. The genre auth
  • Universal downsizes LA international division

    Universal Pictures, which distributes its films in international territories through the London-based United International Pictures (UIP), has downsized its Los Angeles international marketing and distribution department laying off six staff members. In addition, Thomas Castaneda, the much-liked veteran vice president of international publicity, has resigned.The move continues the studio's integration of domestic and international marketing departments under studio vice chairman Marc
  • VCL cuts 2001 forecasts, raises new cash

    Germany's VCL Film + Medien's "liquidity bottleneck has been uncorked by a $33.9m financial package provided by a consortium of banks and other investors, led by France's Societe Generale. It will help to secure the financing of the first two Woody Allen films in VCL's three-picture deal concluded in June 2000.The company's difficult financial situation was underlined by its announcement that it has reduced its sales forecast for 2001 to Euros152m due to "the changing market environmen
  • Vivendi not ready to sell BSkyB stake

    French media group Vivendi Universal has denied that there is any foundation to reports in the UK press that claim that the company is exploring the possibility of selling its 23% in BSkyB to institutional investors.Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier pledged late last year to dispose of the stake within two years as a condition for European Commission approval of Vivendi's takeover of Seagram. Messier, however, has stated that he would prefer to exchange the holding, currently valued at $4