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24 December 2003

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    UIP's Peter Pan was the most popular film in its opening weekend at the Australian box office, although its gross was a slightly underwhelming A$1,507,592 from 269 screens. This result was surprising given the extra publicity generated by it being shot in Australia by Australian expatriate director P J Hogan. BVI's Scary Movie 3 was not far behind in its second weekend, taking A$1.4m, less than half last weekend's opening gross, and neither was Fox's Master And Command
  • Berdugo named head of French film exporters

    Raphael Berdugo, head of Roissy Films, was last week unanimously elected president of the executive board of ADEF, the association of independent French film exporters. Berdugo has a mandate for two years and heads a committee that also includes Daniela Elstner of Les Films du Losange, Nicolas Brigaud-Robert of Films Distribution and Philippe de Chaisemartin of Gaumont with Pascal Diot of Onoma International as treasurer. The lobby organisation, which is headed by Jacques-Eric S
  • Berlinale launches new niche competitions

    Two new competitions - the Volkswagen Score Competition and the "Dialogue en Perspective" Prize - are being launched at the forthcoming Berlinale (5-15 February, 2004).In the Volkswagen Score Competition, a jury will select the most outstanding contribution to the Berlinale Talent Campus' "The Sound and Music" section and the prize-winner will participate in a four day "School Of Sound" symposium in London, with travelling costs and accommodation covered.The sound designers an
  • BVI Ireland celebrates record breaking year

    Buena Vista Ireland has set a number of Irish distribution records in 2003 to become the number one Irish distributor for the first time in its ten years in business.The top slot has been achieved with a combination of strongly performing titles from the Disney and Miramax stables together with several successful Irish-made films which should see Ireland buck the downward box office trend in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.In a statement the company said, "2003 will go down in BV
  • Celestial Movies secures Hong Kong pay-TV slot

    Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures has secured carriage for its 24-hour Chinese movie channel, Celestial Movies, on Hong Kong's newest pay-TV service, exTV, which launches on Feb 18 next year.The channel, which features content from the Shaw Brothers library, Golden Harvest and several other Asian film studios, has already been launched on Astro in Malaysia and Brunei, Starhub in Singapore and Indovision and Kabelvision in Indonesia. Launches are also being planned for the rest of Asia

    At the Danish box-office it wasn't just the predictable third instalment of The Lord Of The Rings, The Return Of The King, which enjoyed record-breaking success, with the re-releases of the two first films also finding places in the chart.However, their screen averages were not too impressive as was the case of the rest of the films on release this weekend. While The Return Of The King had a strong 1,322 admission screen average, the only other film able to get muc
  • Elephant to self-destruct in France

    French distribution and production company MK2 is to send Cesar Award voters a self-destruct DVD of Gus Van Sant's Elephant.With fears of film piracy on the increase, the use of such a DVD has been widely debated. However, this is understood be the first time that a self destruct screener DVD has ever been sent out to voters of a major film awards ceremony. The self-destruct countdown begins when the disc is taken out of its wrapping. After 48 hours of contact with the ai
  • Equinoxe makes Passion play

    Montreal-based Equinoxe Films has picked up Canadian rightsin all media to Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ. Produced by Gibson's Icon Productions, the film is scheduledfor a release coincidental with Newmarket Films' wide US release on Feb. 25,2004 - Ash Wednesday according to the Christian calendar. The film, which aims to be a realistic depiction of the last 12 hours in thelife of Jesus Christ and is filmed in Latin and Aramaic, has already generatedcontroversy a

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King's release on 68 prints in Finland set as many records as elsewhere, and it meant that the new Finnish film, Ilkka Vanne's Land Of Love (aka Love of An Alien), didn't really stand a chance at the box-office despite its 41 prints.The local comedy sees a man get entangled in a circle of lies and find out that he has suddenly changed his name, nationality and skin color for the sake of love. It only mastered a 132 admission
  • Fox scores with Return Of The King in Taiwain

    Capitalising on a shrewd territorial pick-up, Fox International released The Lord Of TheRings: The Return Of The King in Taiwan on 218 screens at the weekend for a record $3.6mindustry opening there.Elsewhere for Fox International, Master And Commander grossed $3.6m from 2,294 screens in 37 territoriesto raise its international running total to $50.8m.This amount excludes Italy, where the adventure film isdistributed through UIP and grossed $1.6m at the weekend.
  • Global demand for French film slips back

    Global demand for French films this year fell for the second successive year in a row, according to the latest figures from Unifrance, the French film export body.French films attracted a projected 48m admissions in 2003, taking roughly Euros 240m in box-office.The numbers are down compared to 2002's 55 million tickets sold worldwide. 2001 saw 60 million admissions - largely thanks to the Amelie phenomenon. However, the 2003 figures remain among the strongest of the past decade.

    Media Asia's Infernal Affairs III kicked off the Christmas box office season with a stellar US$2.14m in its first six days. The film grossed HK$3.22m on its opening day (Dec 12), smashing several records including the biggest non-weekend opening of the year.The highly-anticipated conclusion to Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's crime thriller trilogy opened on 104 screens - the widest opening ever in Hong Kong - and racked up 580 shows in a single day, which is also a record.The f

    As it is usual In Hungary at this time of the year, the latest releases have been films aimed at a younger audience, with the third episode of the Spy Kids trilogy being the big winner.Robert Rodriguez's film is the second on the list from the director with the more adult action title Once Upon A Time In Mexico still holding onto its third place. Mark Waters' Freaky Friday remake, which stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, wasn't an instant hit but it i
  • Italian gov't prepares to unveil Venice board overhaul

    Italian culture minister Giuliano Urbani has announced that he will name the Venice Biennale's new board of directors and president before January 6th - although it now looks increasingly unlikely that either Biennale president Franco Bernabe' or artistic director Moritz de Hadeln will be reappointed to helm the next Venice Film Festival. "It is my obligation to rebuild the Biennale's board of directors, and I must do it so that it can be as efficient as possible," Urbani said, adding
  • Italian industry denounces Venice political interference

    Italy's national association of independent film directors and producers, API, has released a strongly worded statement denouncing political interference in the Venice Film Festival. API also urged Biennale president Franco Bernabe' not to resign from his position.API's move comes after culture minister Giuliano Urbani failed to reconfirm Venice artistic director Moritz de Hadeln, who has overseen the Lido event since 2002. (see Dec 19)Instead, Ur
  • King rewrites European record books

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King went on a five-day internationalrecord-breaking rampage that amassed $125.9m from 7,403 screens in 28territories, according to the latest updated figures from New Line.Peter Jackson's Tolkien trilogy finale scored the biggest openingday and weekend of all time in the UK, Germany and Spain. Results were alsoimpressive in Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.The mighty international tally combines with a $125mdomestic gross for the b
  • Last Samurai holds up strongly in Japan

    Warner Bros The Last Samurai raised its running total in Japan to an estimated $29.1m(Yen 3.2bn) following an impressive $4.6m (Yen 506m) third weekend haul that sawa drop of less than 1%.According to the distributor, the weekend result is 103% of theamount taken by both The Fellowship Of The Ring and The Two Towers in their respective comparable weekendsin March 2002 and February 2003.Among other Warner titles, Looney Tunes: Back In Action added $3.4
  • Love Actually Universal's sixth $100m international title of 2003

    Love Actually became Universal's sixth title of the year to pass$100m at the international box office at the weekend, marking the first timethis has happened at the studio and only the second time in industry historyafter Buena Vista International in 1997.The romantic comedy added$5.9m from 2,650 sites in 31 UIP countries (excluding France, where it isreleased by Studiocanal) for a tantalising $99m international running total.Its cumulative totalincluding France is $103m.
  • Mexican box office slumps in 2003

    Mexico's national film institute Imcine and Chamber of Commerce Canacine are nit picking over details but the final assessment of the country's film industry in 2003 remains dire. Canacine has concluded that Mexican cinema captured a 4.5% share of the overall market but Imcine has given a rosier figure of 6.2% by taking into account the box office performance of romantic comedy Ladies Night which opened strongly last December 10. Canacine head Miguel Angel Davila raised s

    Dir: Patty Jenkins. US. 2003. 110 mins.Two documentaries by Nick Broomfield may have told the Aileen Wuornos story vis a vis the American justice system and media, but Patty Jenkins tells the human story of the woman in her dramatization Monster, a low-budget character study which was released domestically at the end of the year to qualify for awards consideration.Not as grim as might be expected, Monster is nevertheless a harrowing account of the la
  • Monster

    Dir: Patty Jenkins. US. 2003. 110 mins.Two documentaries by Nick Broomfield may have told the Aileen Wuornos story vis a vis the American justice system and media, but Patty Jenkins tells the human story of the woman in her dramatization Monster, a low-budget character study which was released domestically at the end of the year to qualify for awards consideration.Not as grim as might be expected, Monster is nevertheless a harrowing account of the la
  • Nemo reaches $365m international total, sets sights on $500m target

    Buena Vista International's(BVI) Finding Nemo added $25m at the weekend for an internationalrunning total of $365m.The latest figures combinewith the film's US tally for a worldwide total of more than $700m. Studioexecutives are now tentatively setting their sights on a possible internationalfinal tally of more than $500m.The animated hit is now theWalt Disney Co's second biggest global release of all time behind The LionKing and the 14th biggest worldwide and inte

    New Zealanders' overwhelming sense of pride in and ownership of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was good news for the opening of the final instalment, The Return Of The King, which did an extraordinary NZ$2.6m last weekend.To put this in perspective, it accounted for more than 75% of the total gross for all the films in the top 20 chart and more than doubled the opening figure for The Matrix Revolutions.The only other new entry in the top 10 list was BVI's
  • Palm Springs to screen 52 of 56 foreign Oscar submissions

    Sixty-nine world and US premieresare among a line-up of 200 films from 60 countries that will play at the 15thPalm Springs International Film Festival, which runs from Jan 8-19.The festival opens with TimBurton's father-son drama Big Fishand closes with the US premiere of John Irvin's musical comedy The Boys FromCounty Claire on Jan 18.Other highlights include theOscar Buzz section, which corrals 52 of the 56 submissions for the best foreignlanguage Academy Award,
  • Paycheck

    Dir: John Woo. US. 2003. 119 mins.Representing a comeback opportunity for both director John Woo and star Ben Affleck, Paycheck is a sci-fi action thriller that offers glimpses of Woo at his elegant best before it disintegrates into hackneyed genre silliness. Paramount's Christmas Day US release will be watched closely as a gauge of Affleck's pulling power after the disaster of Gigli and months of less than favourable tabloid exposure. A mid-level domestic take
  • Return Of The King reigns supreme on $73.6m three-day opening

    New Line's J R R Tolkientrilogy finale The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King obliteratedthe opposition at the weekend, opening top on an estimated $73.6m from itsfirst three days on 7,205 screens and a staggering $125.1m from its first five.The third and final episodein Peter Jackson's acclaimed fantasy adaptation averaged $19,876 from 3,703theatres and set several records along the way.This was the best three-dayDecember opening in industry history, the best Wedn
  • Rings round opposition: Return Of The King scores $121m int'l bow

    New Line International's TheLord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King ruled them all in 28 territoriesat the weekend, opening on a sensational $121m international box office in itsfirst five days and smashing numerous records.The international gross combinedwith the $125.1m US tally for what the studio is claiming to be arecord-setting $246.1m five-day worldwide opening."I believe our $1bn goal isin reach," Rolf Mittweg, New Line's president of worldwide distribution andm
  • Romania set to privatise state-owned cinemas

    Romania is expected this week to unveil details of the privatisation of a significant number of state-owned cinemas.The move was revealed by Decebal Mitulescu, director general of the National Centre of Cinematography (CNC), the state-body which has regulatory, funding and administrative functions similar to the French organisation with the same initials.While nearly all exhibition outlets in the former-Communist state are state-controlled Mitulescu said that privatisation would
  • Saccani rejoins Universal as vice president of production.

    Former Universal Pictures' director of development Damien Saccani isrejoining the studio as vice president of production."Damien showed a good deal of promise when he was hereyears ago, and since then he has become a first-rate executive with keenintelligence and taste, a terrific knowledge of the business and fantasticrelationships with talent," Universal vice chairmen of worldwide productionMary Parent and Scott Stuber said in a statement.Saccani is currently developing projec
  • Screen International's Review of the Year 2003

    2003 was the year that Old Europe, to steal from Donald Rumsfeld's war cry, took a reality check in preparation for the New. Local film support apparatuses were re-engineered, national boundaries questioned and distribution-led cinema more fully embraced. Vivendi finally surrendered Universal and with it Europe's ill-advised claim to studio status. It was Goodbye Lenin, but also hello to piracy after 770,000 counterfeit copies of Europe's best picture surfaced on Germany's streets befo
  • Seven films shortlisted for FX Oscar - but no Matrix

    The Academy of MotionPicture Arts and Sciences has announced the seven films that will be consideredfor achievement in visual effects for the 76th Academy Awards.The titles are: Hulk,The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, Master And Commander, Peter Pan,Pirates Of The Caribbean, Terminator 3 and X2.Curiously,neither of the Matrixsequels released this year is included on the list.Fifteen-minute clip reelsfrom each of the seven will be screened

    As elsewhere The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King flattened all competition and set box-office records at the Swedish box-office, but the other new US release family comedy Freaky Friday fared well despite the mammoth competition.Though its 63 prints only allowed for a fourth position on the chart, it scored a better screen average than the higher placed Finding Nemo and Love Actually in second and third.Further down the chart the new local f
  • Twin Sisters producer readies five strong slate

    Successful Dutch production house IdtV Film, the company behind local box office smash and Oscar hope Twin Sisters, has lined up a slate of five new features. Two of the projects from the Amsterdam based company are international productions. Batavia is billed as an epic about the disastrous seavoyage of the legendary Dutch East India Company, which was wrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1629. The project is currently being scripted by Paul jan Nelissen
  • Warner Bros and Rowling win German plagiarism court case

    A district courtin Hamburg has upheld a plagiarism claim brought by Warner Bros Entertainmentand J K Rowling against a German educational publisher.According to thestatement of claim the company, Verlag an der Ruhr, published three schoolbooks related to the character, lore and trademarks of the Harry Potter serieswithout formal permission of approval.The court heldthat school books needed to follow the same general rules for secondaryliterature under German copyright law as all
  • Washington DC critics name Return Of The King best film

    The Lord OfThe Rings: The Return Of The King has been named best film and Peter Jackson best director by theWashington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA).The 23-membergroup named Bill Murray best actor for Lost In Translation and Naomi Watts best actress for 21Grams, while supportinghonours went to Benicio Del Toro for 21 Grams and Anna Deavere Smith for The HumanStain. Love Actually won the best ensemble prize.Best originalscreenp
  • Wellspring takes US rights to Strayed

    US-based Wellspring Media has acquired all US rights toAndre Techine's Strayed (LesEgares), which premiered in competition atCannes earlier this year. The company plans a summer 2004 US release followedby DVD and video roll-out.Based on GillesPerrault's best-selling novel, Strayed stars Emmanuelle Beart as a widowed schoolteacher who fleesParis as the Nazis close in on the city and sets up house in an abandoned villain the Loire Valley.