In this week's Screen International


How Viacom's decision not to sell Blockbuster represents a strong vote of confidence in the home video market - despite, or because, of the impact of DVD.

How DreamWorks' extension of its distribution deal with Universal Studios surprised everyone - especially Warner Bros.

Focus: Taboo breaker

"A hustler in the fur of a teddy bear."

It shouldn't be possible for such an overtly independent producer like the UK's Jeremy Thomas to thrive in the international film business. But during the last 30 years the producer of such controversial films as Crash, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence and the Oscar-winning The Last Emperor has made his own way in the industry, guided by his own instincts.

But along with Academy Awards, there have been armed mobs, imprisonment and a nasty attack of the measels

Jeremy Thomas talks to Adam Minns about a career spanning three decades in the independent film business. While his father Ralph and his uncle Gerald directed studio-made UK comedy franchises, like the Doctor and the Carry On... films, Jeremy had an eye for discovering alternative directors: Julien Temple, Nagisa Oshima and David Cronenberg.

"He's the Dude in The Big Lebowski", says Chris Auty, former managing director of Thomas's 30-year-old production company.

"Jeremy is one of the last great maverick producers in the UK, probably the world," says Eric Fellner, co-chief of Working Title, the production powerhouse behind Bridget Jones.

Reviews: Foreign feast

Besson delivers a sure-fire hit, Yamakasi; Takenaka's laugh-out-loud farce, Quartet For Two, is eminently exportable

News: Strike Update

Will SAG allow independent producers to work during the strike'

Close Up: Sharon Maguire

The director of Bridget Jones's Diary talks about her experience with Working Title: "They were probably having to protect me without letting me know that", and how the democratic spirit of the editing room could have created a nine-hour romantic comedy.

Production Case Study: Me Without You

Writer-director Sandra Goldbacher's bittersweet script about female relationships - a chick High Fidelity - is optioned by UK production outfit Dakota Films and Kirsten Dunst is tantalisingly cast, but withdraws, due to scheduling problems. Independent producer Finola Dwyer runs with the project "We needed girls who could get on the front of magazines."

With a traditional low-budget ceiling of £3m ($4.3m) Dwyer and Goldbacher pull off a casting coup involving: Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Kyle MacLachan and Trudie Styler.

"It's a very universal story," says the commercially-minded Dwyer. "It's about the friends that get under your skin, about the ones you eventually want to divorce. It's about how your best friend can ruin your life." Capitol Films will screen the film for the first time for buyers at Cannes.

World Box Office

The final part in the series focusing on the BO in key territories. This week: Argentina, Australia and Mexico