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28 November 2001

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  • 007 given licence to shoot during UK actors strike

    The next James Bond movie has been cleared to shoot as planned in January after its producer Eon Productions agreed to givemembers of UK actors union Equity a three per cent royalty payment from video and DVD sales worldwide.The deal, which kicks in after thefilm's producers have recouped 30% of its budget from video and DVD sales, is the latest in a string of emergency waiver pacts Equity has struck with producers after calling on the 36,000 UK actors that make up itsmembership to ref
  • Admira, Venevision launch TV production venture

    Spain's Admira (formerly Telefonica Media) and Miami-based Venevision International have launched a 50/50 joint venture to produce telenovelas and other TV content for the Latin American and US Spanish-speaking markets.The joint venture follows similar moves by Admira into the Mexican and Brazilian TV markets. In August, Admira holding Endemol Entertainment and Brazilian heavyweight TV Globo launched Endemol Globo, and in September Endemol created a joint production venture with Mexico
  • Artisan gets Kushner-Locke rights in North America

    Artisan Entertainment has secured the North American rights to service the library assets of The Kushner-Locke Company. Subject to bankruptcy court approval, Artisan will become the sales agent controlling North American TV and home entertainment rights to over 300 Kushner-Locke titles.The titles produced or licensed by Kushner-Locke include feature films, made-for-TV movies and TV series. These titles will be added to Artisan's existing library of over 6,700 properties and distribute
  • Behind Enemy Lines

    Dir: John Moore. US 2001. 105 mins The US military couldn't have asked for a more effective recruitment tool than this rousing, high-concept action feature about a young navy pilot trapped behind enemy lines in Bosnia, who must outwit and evade his legion of pursuers until the Marines can arrive to rescue him. Given the patriotic fervour sweeping America in the wake of the current war in Afghanistan, 20th Century Fox can expect a gung-ho reception for its suddenly topical com
  • Berlinale lines up 13-strong selection committee

    The UK's Simon Perry, Holland Film's Claudia Landsberger and Pandora Film's Christoph Friedel are among the members of the revamped selection committee for the Berlinale's official competition section at the forthcoming festival (February 6-17, 2002).The 13-person line-up comprises: Dieter Kosslick (festival executive director), Wieland Speck (Panorama), Christoph Terhechte (International Forum), Beki Probst (European Film Market), Alfred Holighaus (Perspectives German Cinema), Anke Le
  • Betty Fisher And Other Stories

    Dir: Claude Miller. France-Canada. 2001. 102minsVeteran director Claude Miller brings a calm control and authority to the elaborately plotted Betty Fisher Et Autres Histoires, a demanding blend of psychological thriller and ensemble melodrama. Slow-burning but always absorbing, the film ambitiously attempts to cover a wide range of characters and developments which enrich the texture of the central tale but dilute a little of the suspense. Likely to appeal to the same,
  • Black Knight

    Dir: Gil Junger. US. 2001. 93 mins. After the commercial disappointment of his team-up with Danny DeVito in What's the Worst That Could Happen', Black Knight sees comedian Martin Lawrence returning to the kind of solo shtick that turned his 2000 vehicle Big Momma's House (another Regency Enterprises production for Fox) into a $100m-plus US hit. Opening in the US for the five-day Thanksgiving weekend and backed by a big ad campaign, this inoffensive
  • Children Underground, share IDA prize

    The International Documentary Association (IDA) has named its 2001 distinguished achievement awards to be presented on Dec 7 in Los Angeles. Edet Belzberg's Children Underground and co-directed by Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujam share the top honours in the feature length competition.Eric Simonson's On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps To Freedom won the short category for films under 40 minutes, David Grubin's Abraham And Mary Lincoln: A House Divided won th
  • Columbia TriStar, BVI scrap Colombian venture

    Columbia TriStar and Buena Vista International are to dissolve their joint venture in Colombia from Jan 1st, 2002. Columbia TriStar is thought most likely to create an alliance with UIP and BVI will sub-distribute its product through the new joint venture. The move follows the split between the companies in Argentina last year. BVI President Mark Zoradi told Screendaily that the reasons for split were simply that the market is so small and it made more sense to sub-dist
  • Danish films hit record market share at home

    As Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone sweeps across Scandinavia, few other films have had much chance of attracting any attention - with the notable exception of local titles. Danish films, in particular, continue to prove their appeal. Indeed, During the first 9 months of 2001, Danish films have sold some 2.4m tickets at home, pushing the local market share to a record 31%.Danish romantic comedy from newcomer Hella Joof, Shake It All About, which opened one week be
  • EM.TV CFO exits after only three months

    After just three months in the job as EM.TV & Merchandising's CFO Marius Schwarz (pictured) is exiting the company at the behest of CEO Werner Klatten and with the consent of the supervisory board.As of November 27, the executive board will consist of only two members - Klatten, who will now also take over responsibilities for finance and controlling, and Rainer Huether, board member with responsibility for marketing, TV sales, production and merchandising."The slimming down of
  • Europa Cinemas gets MEDIA thumbs-up

    Europa Cinemas, the support system for independent exhibitors which screen European films, closed its annual conference in Rome yesterday with the news that it had won a new two-year mandate from the Media programme."This is a first for us and is a real vote of confidence in the work that we are doing to support the cross-border exhibition of European films," said chief executive Claude-Eric Poiroux. The new Euros 9.2m budget is expected to allow Europa Cinemas to fine-tune its program
  • European Investment Bank starts loan facility

    The Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has made its first investment into European audiovisual production as part of the "Audiovisual i2i" initiative by signing two agreements for Euros 20m each with the French credit institutions Cofiloisirs and Coficine.The agreements, which were signed on November 23 by the EIB's Vice-President Francis Mayer, Cofiloisirs' Director General Denis Offroy and Coficine's Vice-President Director General Didier Courtois Duverger, lets EIB cont
  • Europeans appreciate Training Day

    Denzel Washington is proving his star appeal once again across Europe with his latest film Training Day. The crime drama in which Washington plays against type as a corrupt Los Angeles cop, opened this week to strong figures in Italy and Scandinavia as well as continuing to perform with gusto in France and Spain.The film took a healthy three-day opening in Italy of $667,857 (L 1.5bn) from just 175 screens to record a solid screen average of $3,816, but had to settle for second p
  • Film Council awards second round of slate funds

    Ecosse Films, Recorded Picture Company and Ruby Films are amongst the UK production outfits to secure slate funding in the second round of company awards from the UK Film Council's National Lottery coffers.Also securing cash were Catherine Aitken and Ros Borland's Gabriel Films, documentary production company October Films and Riverchild Films, a short film production company that is to move into features. Ecosse Films secured the most - $354,750 (£250,000) - while Jeremy Thomas' Recor
  • German scopas fund adds to family entertainment

    Frankfurt-based animation studio scopas medien has joined a recent wave of funds concentrating on family entertainment, including Victory, Mediability, Equity Pictures, and Festival Film by launching a Euros 30m private media fund to invest in internationally marketable family entertainment for cinema and television.The fund is inviting private individuals to each invest a minimum of Euros 10,000 by December 31, 2002, and has reserved the option to raise the fund's volume by another Eu
  • Grammy plans trans-sexual kick-boxer biopic

    GMM Grammy, Thailand's largest entertainment conglomerate, is to bankroll a biopic of Parinya Charoenphol, a trans-sexual whose career started with kick-boxing and ended with night club singing. Singapore-based stage director Ekachai Uekrongham will make his feature film debut as director. Casting is now underway with a view to film early in 2002. Dialogue will be in Thai, English and Japanese. An international version is also planned.
  • Hana Bank launches Korea's first film fund

    South Korea's Cinema Service is poised to tap into a new source of film financing with the launch of a public film investment fund by Hana Bank. The $7.8m Hana Cinema Trust Fund No. 1, which kicks off on Dec 3, marks the first ever involvement of the banking sector in Korean film finance.In recent years, film investment in Korea has been dominated by venture capital, with so-called "netizen funds" also playing an increasing role in raising cash from private individuals over the intern
  • Harry Potter takes Brazil's all-time opening crown

    Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone has claimed the all-time opening record in Brazil with 796,587 admissions on its first weekend (Nov 23-25). It pushes Planet Of The Apes off its best opening perch of 2001 as well as beating the all time record set by Rambo 3. The worldwide phenomenon has captured a whopping 72% market share in Brazil, fueled by the unprecedented number of prints (484) released by Warner Bros.Harry Potter is expected to come c
  • Ian George replaces Maj-Britt Kirchner at Pathe UK

    Maj-Britt Kirchner is stepping down as managing director of the UK's Pathe Distribution at the end of the year, Francois Ivernel, managing director of Pathe UK, announced on Monday.Deputy managing director Ian George, who joined Pathe with Kirchner in 1999 from Warner Bros.' UK theatrical arm, will replace the Swedish-born executive. Kirchner is to retire."I always planned to retire at 55, so I've done a year's overtime," Kirchner told Screendaily. "If someone wants my advice or
  • Icon buys Australian rights for Swimfan

    Icon Film Distribution is believed to have bought Australian rights for the teen thriller Swimfan, from sales agent Cobalt. It is the second film and first offshore outing from local director John Polson, working under the umbrella of GreeneStreet Films and Michael Douglas's Furthur Films. Erika Christensen, Jesse Bradford and Shiri Appleby star in the story of an all-American high school couple turned upside down by the obsessive and seductive new girl in town. The produ
  • India's film industry 'poised' for massive growth

    Studio revenues in India are predicted to double over the next five years as the territory begins a period of rapid growth, both in terms of cinema infrastructure and production investment.According to a new report, Bollywood: India's Film Industry, from UK-based industry analysis firm Dodona Research, production investment will rise 70% over the next five years, Indian film industry export revenues will climb 120% over the same period and foreign films' theatrical rentals in In
  • Intertainment ends Filmgroup deal as sales fall

    Following the insolvency of the UK media company Filmgroup PLC, Germany's Intertainment has taken back from the company more than 75 titles including The Whole Nine Yards, 3000 Miles To Graceland and Battlefield Earth. News of the termination of the contract came as Intertainment reported a reduced surplus of Euros 4.6m for the first nine months of this year, compared to Euros 12.4m for the same period last year.The continuing legal action against Franchise Pictures becau
  • Investor confidence returns to Japan's Shochiku

    Shochiku, one of Japan's leading distributor/exhibitors, saw its share price rocket to $5.8 (Y715) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday Nov 28. In just 25 days, the company's stock has soared by $1.2 (Y141), partly in anticipation of the Dec 1 release of Harry Potter, but also thanks to an impressive revitalisation of the company, which saw it this year post midterm net operating profits for the first time in four years.In the past three years, under the leadership of presid
  • Iranian films dominate Hyderbad awards

    Iranian films dominated awards at the 12th International Film Festival in Hyderbad, India. Children Of Petroleum directed by Ebrahim Forouzesh won the Golden Elephant for the best feature film in the international competition. The Silver Elephant for the best director went to Rassul Sadr Ameli for Iranian film Girl In Sneakers.The Silver Elephant in the Asian Panorama section went to another Iranian film Child And The Soldier by Seyyed Reza Mir Karimi. Shangoul
  • Irish Film Board celebrates record year at home

    A record nine films, including When Brendan Met Trudy, H3, Disco Pigs and About Adam, which received funding from the Irish Film Board, were released in Irish cinemas during 2001, taking more than $3.1m (£2.2m) at the Irish box office to date. Rod Stoneman, chief executive of The Irish Film Board said: "2001 has been an unprecedented year for the Irish Film Industry. With a record nine theatrical releases, excellent TV viewership figures and explosive growth in the
  • Japan's SunCent restructures, loses president

    Beset by red ink, leading Japanese independent producer SunCent Cinema Works has relocated to the headquarters of its parent Wowow , while president and founder Takenori Sento is preparing to exit the company and launch a new production venture, Rumble Fish. SunCent will continue to manage the rights for the films produced under Sento's three-year reign, while plans for new production are on hold, pending the arrival of a new president. "We will continue to distribute films for theatri
  • Kinowelt may be forced into insolvency

    Just four days ahead of the presentation of its nine-month figures on November 30, embattled German media concern Kinowelt Medien may now have to file for insolvency after ABN Amro Bank announced its intention to call in loans of more than $45.1m (DM 100m) to Kinowelt as from November 28.In an adhoc communique, Kinowelt stated that ABN Amro's step "comes as a surprise" and pointed out that the company was not in a position to raise the loans' sum by November 28. If an agreement cannot
  • Leading UK talent agency bought by CSS Stellar

    Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD), the leading UK talent agency with clients including Richard Curtis, Ewan McGregor and Kate Winslet, has been bought by UK management and marketing group CSS Stellar.CSS, which already represents TV personalities such as Michael Parkinson and The Weakest Link's Anne Robinson, is paying an initial $16.8m (£11.9m) for PFD, plus a deferred, performance-related sum of $14.3m (£10.1m). The company, active in the sports and entertainment sectors, is listed
  • Loehr's Ming dynasty aims to rule in Asia

    China's leading independent producer, the American-born Peter Loehr is to quit Beijing-based Imar Films and establish an international label focused on bigger and more ambitious pictures. His new outfit Ming Productions will also be located in Beijing, but starts life with a slate of four projects and a three-picture development deal with Japan's Amuse. "Before moving to China I'd worked in Japan and built up many contacts. I've long wanted to bring Japanese investors into the mix. It
  • Loss of Warner films final straw for Kinowelt'

    Less than 24 hours before Kinowelt's deadline (on November 28) to persuade ABN Amro Bank to retract its plan to call in loans totalling around $63.2m (DM 140m), what may be the final nail has been hammered into the beleaguered German company's coffin with the news that the 1999 film package deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution has been terminated.In summer 1999, Kinowelt had attempted to enter into the large-scale license trading arena, competing with Leo Kirch
  • Mediability is first German film fund to collapse

    Launched just five months ago, Mediability has become the first casualty among the recent wave of German private media funds; unable to raise sufficient cash from investors for its three proposed animation series: Frog, Thorgal,and Baron Muenchhausen, the Munich-based equity fund has now filed for insolvency.Ellipse Deutschland, the German arm of French animation studio Ellipseanime which was to have co-produced the series with Mediability, now plans to realise the productions w
  • Mein Stern scoops Turin Festival's top prize

    Valeska Grisebach's Mein Stern has scooped the top prize at this year's Turin Film Festival, Italy's prestigious cutting-edge event which is dedicated to emerging directors.The Austrian-German film about teenage love was awarded $18,000 (40,000,000 ITL), after being praised by the jury for its "timing and perfect, realistic acting." Meanwhile, Iran's Rakhshan Bani Etermad picked up the Public's Prize for Under The Skin Of The City (Zir-e Poost-e Shahr), a dr
  • Mumbai festival extended by popular demand

    The fourth edition of the International Film Festival of Mumbai, organised by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) has been extended for a day by popular demand from the delegates. "About 3,000 delegates, including a large number of film critics and experts from abroad are participating in the mega event," MAMI trustee and noted film producer Amit Khanna told Screendaily. Earlier, Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj formally inaugurated the
  • Ocean's Wally Norman gets FFC funding

    The Film Finance Corporation (FFC) is to invest in The Honourable Wally Norman, allowing Ocean Pictures to fulfil its sales agent ambitions. The comedy will be represented internationally by both Ocean and the UK's Alibi Film Sales, under an agreement struck when the Australian company launched nearly two years ago.The producer of The Honourable Wally Norman is Jonathan Shteinman, who owns Ocean Pictures alongside Emile Sherman. Ted Emery will direct the script by
  • One Leg Kicking scores at Singapore box office

    Eric Khoo, Singapore's most famed director, has scored at the box office with the football comedy One Leg Kicking. This much needed domestic hit opened on November 14 with $60,818 (S$111,973), Singapore's highest ever opening day gross for a local film. Distributor UIP took advantage of the local Nov 14 Deepavali public holiday on Wednesday rather than using the traditional Friday opening slot.Released on 25 prints, the Singlish dialect film was the number one earner over the we
  • Oz producers lobby for film promotion funds

    Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) president Nick Murray has called for the introduction of a scheme to inject up to $260,000 (A$500,000) into the p&a budgets of local films.The move, he said, would help Australian films to overcome the difficulties they have in securing prominent and sustained release. "US product has a 90% market share in our cinemas," Murray told SPAA's annual conference this week. "We have to compete for the remaining 10% but are doing so pitti
  • Paramount taps latest German fund

    Having already accessed German private film funds initiated this year by Alcas and Bayerische Immobilien-Leasing (BIL)/Deutsche Bank, Paramount Pictures is set to benefit from a new German private equity fund launched by SachsenFonds and EastMerchant.The Euros 52.7m MMP Investitions GmbH & Co. 2001 KG will be inviting private individuals to invest a minimum of Euros 15,000 each by December 20, 2001 to finance the romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, which is budgeted at
  • Portman stages management buy-out

    UK media concern Portman Entertainment has staged a management buy-out from its parent, PrimeEnt, the companies have announced. Chief executive Tim Buxton and managing director Tristan Whalley are understood to be staying with Portman, which is expected to continue to be active in film and TV sales and production. PrimeEnt, listed on London's Alternative Investment Market, acquired Portman from VTR for $5.6m (£4m). Previously known as South Beach Concepts, the former fast food r
  • Portugal becomes 15th int'l Disney Channel

    Walt Disney Television International (WDTV-I) yesterday (Nov 27) launched the 15th international version of its Disney Channel, when it started broadcasting in Portugal."We launched the first ever international Disney Channel six years ago and all of the Channels have been incredibly successful in connecting the Disney brand to kids and families on a local level," said WDTV-I president, David Hulbert. "Portugal is our fifteenth international Disney Channel and I am pleased that
  • Spy Game opens well, but trails Harry and Monsters

    It was another phenomenal weekend for Warner Bros' Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone across North America. Over Thanksgiving Weekend, the film took a mighty estimated $58.5m from Friday to Sunday and a whopping $83.5m for the five-day period Thursday to Sunday (the official holiday was last Thursday). Those were the best three- and five-day totals for a film over the Thanksgiving period, better than previous record-holder Toy Story 2 in 1999.In ten days, the film has t
  • Spy Game, Heist no match for Potter's Mettle

    The phenomenon that is Harry Potter continues to exceed expectations in the UK, dropping a mere 13% on its second weekend and becoming the second highest earner of the year so far with its $41m to date. To put the film's astonishing results into context: in just 10 days Potter has already grossed more than another 2001 kids favourite Shrek, which has taken $40.8m after 22 weeks on release.Four new releases made the top 15 this week led by Entertainment's Robert Red
  • Sundance gets its quirky groove back

    It will not justbe the visibly heightened security measures that will lend next year's Sundance Film Festival a distinctive new flavour; the competition filmsthemselves are liable to provoke rather different audience and industry responses than in recent years, say selectors.Many of thedramatic feature films that will vie for various jury honours next January inPark City - just days before the Utah mining town then becomes engulfed by theWinter Olympics - exude an eccentricity that sta
  • Sundance unveils Premieres, World Cinema line-ups

    New films by Sundance veterans Gus Van Sant, Mira Nair, Victor Nunez and Miguel Arteta, plus the directorial debut of actor John Malkovich, are among the highlights of the high-profile Premieres to be unspooled at the Sundance Film Festival in January.Van Sant's Jerry, said to be a largely improvisational effort that was shot in the Argentine desert for a reported $7m, may prove of particular interest since only the scantest details about the production have emerged since the pr
  • The Affair Of The Necklace

    Dir. Charles Shyer. US 2001. 117mins.Much of the dramatic juice and historical intrigue has been drained out of The Affair Of The Necklace, an old-fashioned costume drama that suffers from being stiff, stuffy and banal. In her first major role after a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar for Boys Don't Cry, Hilary Swank is miscast as the real-life Jeanne de la Motte-Valois, a woman who dedicated her life to regaining her family's honour after they were disenfranchi
  • The Simian Line

    Dir: Linda Yellen. USA 2000. 106mins The cast members in this uneven ensemble comedy might as well be in different pictures; in fact, it's a pity they're not since the film starring Lynn Redgrave is worth watching, while the one featuring William Hurt and Samantha Mathis is not. Given that the latter two performers are playing ghosts, it would not be too far wrong to say that the film comes to a dead stop whenever they appear. Then there is the matter of the title: The Sim
  • ThinkFilm buys Sundance premiere Altar Boys

    Canadian-financed North American distributor ThinkFilm has picked up all North American rights to Peter Care's The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys which will receive its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next year.The film is produced by Jodie Foster's Egg Pictures and stars Foster along with Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone, Emile Hirsch and Vincent D'Onofrio. Adapted from Chris Fuhrman's cult novel, Dangerous Lives chronicles the lives of two high schoolers who escape their
  • Tricky Life takes top prize at Huelva festival

    Uruguayan box office wonder Tricky Life (En La Puta Vida) was awarded the top Golden Columbus (Colon de Oro) prize Saturday (Nov 24) by the jury of Spain's 27th annual Iberoamerican Film Festival of Huelva. A Uruguayan-Spanish-Belgian co-production sold internationally by Bavaria Film, Tricky is the first film ever nominated by Uruguay to compete for the foreign language Oscar. Beatriz Flores Silva wrote and directed the tale of Uruguayan prostitution in Europe. Ar
  • TV Nova still on track for Barrandov Studios

    Czech broadcaster TV Nova appears to be pushing ahead with plans to purchase Prague's Barrandov Studios despite recent setbacks, including a ruling against it Wednesday (Nov 21) by the Czech Supreme Court in its dispute with the US's Central European Media Enterprises (CME).Last week, Nova director Vladimir Zelezny spent the night in jail as Czech prosecutors cracked down in a move that appeared timed to coincide with recent international rulings against the local media mogul.In
  • UK's Film Council backs French-language title

    The UK's Film Council's Premiere Fund for commercially-oriented films is pumping $700,000 (£500,000) into its first foreign-language production, French director Patrice Leconte's L'Homme Du Train.Pathe will distribute the comedy drama in the UK, while Pathe International is handling international sales. Shooting started this month in France, with Philippe Carcassonne producing and Carl Clifton co-producing for the UK's Tubedale Films.Jean Rochefort stars as a former teach
  • Universal targets Latino market with Arenas Group

    Universal Pictures has teamed up with The Arenas Group, an advertising, PR and talent management firm focused on the US Latino market, to form Arenas Entertainment, a new film label to acquire, produce, finance, market and distribute films for Hispanic audiences worldwide.The deal was struck to form the company by Marc Shmuger, vice chairman of Universal Pictures, and Santiago Pozo, founder and president of The Arenas Group. Pozo will be chief executive officer of the new venture.
  • US PGA renames awards, adds two to Hall of Fame

    The US Producers Guild Of America has renamed its annual awards from the Golden Laurel Awards to the Producers Guild Awards, and announced that The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Network (1976) will be inducted into its hall of fame.The awards will be presented at the 13th annual awards show will take place on March 3, 2002, in Los Angeles. Co-chairs are Bruce Cohen and Debra Hill.The Hall of Fame awards are given to films that are at least ten years old and have
  • Winchester Films engages 'comedy Czar'

    UK theatrical distributor Winchester Films has engaged local comedian and author David Baddiel to source and develop a strand of British comedy projects.Baddiel, an established stand-up comedian and novelist is best known as co-creator of the 1990s cult show Fantasy Football with Frank Skinner."David's role is to be like a 'comedy Czar', sourcing movie ideas from a wide variety of comedians and writers," said Winchester's Gary Smith in a statement.Winchester, along