Millions may have been wiped from the investment portfolios of the wealthy few that drive the entertainment industry, but the film business itself seems to be clinging to the age-old belief that cinema is recession-proof. Film, however, may not be as completely immune from the impact of a slowdown as it once was. As this week's lead story in SCREEN INTERNATIONAL discovers in places such as Japan, where exhibitors have endured more than a decade in the economic doldrums, survival measures still need to be taken.
BUSKIN'S CHIEF SAYS THERE'S LIFE YET IN ITALIAN ART-HOUSE EXPORTS
Antonio Guadalupi, the subject of this week's Q&A profile in SCREEN INTERNATIONAL, knows a thing or two about selling Italian arthouse films. Formerly an advertising executive, he was appointed CEO of Buskin Films when the company was created last summer by producer Roberto Bessi. He is consultant to Japan's World Television Corp on the acquisition of Italian films and is involved in MEDIA's funding programme for European distributors. The commercial realities for Italian art-house films are tough, acknowledges Guadalupi, but even from the experience of this year's AFM he feels there is an international market for these pictures - if they're promoted in the right way.
DIGITAL CINEMA: NOW FOR THE EUROPEAN SIDE OF THE DEBATE
When Boeing and Technicolor unveiled plans to ShoWest to subsidise digital cinema, the focus was entirely on the US. Some European exhibitors see this as a chance to hedge their bets while the US takes the risks. Others believe its is now time for Europe to take a lead itself. "If the digital process becomes wholly proprietary, owed by a few US studios, then the work goes away from Europe, as well as the creativity," Steve Chapman, head of research and development at London post-production house Computer Film Co, tells SCREEN INTERNATIONAL in this week's News Analysis.
ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION: THE REALITY BEHIND SELLING FILMS TO DEVELOPING MARKETS
"The difficulties arise when you sell a movie in a territory and you do not collect. Five years ago, the Russians were buying lots of product. But few people were able to collect on those payments. The rouble crashes or you go there to try to squeeze your money out of a film that has been pirated." So says David Linde, president of Good Machine International. And he is not alone in believing that collecting is as important as closing the deal in the less developed territories. "A consortium in Latin America is great until the guy in Brazil does not send a cheque," adds Rick Sands, chairman, worldwide distribution, Miramax. For this and other insights on international film sales read this week's Round Table discussion in SCREEN INTERNATIONAL.
FOCUS ON GERMANY'S DIGITAL POST-PRODUCTION OUTFIT, DAS WERK
Das Werk may yet prove to be the most successful media outfit to have floated on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt stock exchange. Not only has its share price proved remarkably solid, but Das Werk is moving quickly to turn Europe's highly fragments post-production sector into a world-scale industry. Read how this dynamic outfit, now embarking on an international expansion programme, expects to"double our revenues this year" in this week's in-depth corporate profile in SCREEN INTERNATIONAL.
THE DARK ART OF PITCHING YOUR FILM SCRIPT
At Olympia's Production Show last week, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL assembled six of the best - Working Title's Debra Hayward, Universal's Graeme Mason, Miramax Films' Teresa Moneo, FilmFour's Jim Wilson, Pathe Pictures' Matt Gannon and the Film Council's Paul Trijbits - to find out firsthand how best to win them over with a movie idea. Hear from their many amusing and horrifying anecdotes of pitches past, and learn a few choice tips on what tacks to take and gimmicks to avoid in this week's Talk Of London column on SCREEN INTERNATIONAL's back page. Hint: don't send a replica of a coffin to an executive who has just been fired....
PRODUCTION CASE STUDY: MILCHO MANCHEVSKI'S DUST
The Pitch: A Cain and Abel story about two brothers caught up in a classic love triangle from the Macedonian director who brought us Before the Rain. Not surprisingly, international producers hearing this new project from Milcho Manchevski are desperate to work with him on Dust, a similarly epic tale that touches on the themes of love, death, war, and history that informed his earlier film. But even with UK producer Chris Auty behind it, and Italian producer Domenico Procacci on board, financing for Dust proves slow to come together and shooting is postponed. For further battle tales from the production frontlines, and why today this film looks primed for Cannes, read this week's Case Study in SCREEN INTERNATIONAL.
CLOSE UP ON SCREENWRITER KENNETH LONERGAN
Tipped for the original screenplay Oscar for You Can Count On Me, Kenneth Lonergan remembers the rude shock of selling his previous script, the comedy Analyze This to the highest bidder - Warner Bros- based Spring Creek Productions: "They bought the screenplay and then told me that, while they liked the concept, they didn't like the rest of it and wanted me to start from scratch. I did two rewrites which were guaranteed in the deal and then left. They were sick of me and I was sick of them." Lonergan, who has since been engaged for re-writes on Martin Scorsese's upcoming epic Gangs Of New York, still hasn't seen Analyze This. Read on for other perils facing writers in Hollywood.
PRODUCTION FOCUS: GREEKS ARE LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK
A wave of local success from Greek comedies has prompted consolidation among some of the country's leading production and distribution companies. The trend can be traced back to 1997, when a comedy rocked the box office with 200,000 admissions and was promptly followed by the phenomenal success of Safe Sex, which garnered 1.7 million tickets. For a country where many local titles were routinely attracting no more than 5,000 admissions, this was something of a breakthrough. And the name of that original groundbreaking Greek comedy that set the market alight' Orgasm Of The Cow.
SCREEN INTERNATIONAL REVIEWS
Bridget Jones's Diary (UK)
The Brothers (US)
Spy Kids (US)
Exit Wounds (US)
Pellet (El Bola) (Spain)
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