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London Drama ‘A Hundred Streets’ Rolls With Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton; Jim O’Hanlon Now Helming

London Drama ‘A Hundred Streets’ Rolls With Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton; Jim O’Hanlon Now HelmingIdris Elba boarded UK indie feature One Square Mile as a producer in June 2013, but at the time it was unclear if he would star as well. A little more than a year later, the movie has undergone a title change to A Hundred Streets, found a new director, firmed its cast, and is beginning production. Elba is starring alongside Gemma Arterton in the drama about four people with extraordinary stories that are all lived out within a square mile in contemporary London. Michael Caton-Jones was due to helm the film, but has left for another project. Stepping in is Irish TV director Jim O’Hanlon who will make his feature debut on the pic. O’Hanlon’s credits include BBC mini Emma, HBO/BBC biopic House Of Saddam, Cinemax’s A Touch Of Cloth and BBC drama/horror series In The Flesh. Leon Butler, who directed the short One Square Mile: London, penned the script for A Hundred Streets.

Elba and Arterton play an estranged married couple, he an ex-rugby superstar and she a housewife, as both struggle with life. Omar‘s Adam Bakri has also joined the cast as a rich playboy who gets more than he bargained for when a beautiful ex-girlfriend re-enters his life; and Edge Of Tomorrow‘s Franz Drameh is a small time drug dealer who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an aging actor. Read More »

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UPDATE: Javier Bardem Also Clarifies Gaza “Genocide” Stand: “We Detest Anti-Semitism”

UPDATE: Javier Bardem Also Clarifies Gaza “Genocide” Stand: “We Detest Anti-Semitism”UPDATE, THURSDAY 3:34 PM PT: Following a statement yesterday by his wife Penelope Cruz, Oscar winner Javier Bardem has weighed in with his own clarification of an open letter to which both were signatories earlier this week regarding the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Bardem says his signature on the controversial letter accusing the Israeli military of “genocide”  ”was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.” The letter the couple signed, along with director Pedro Almodovar and other luminaries of the Spanish industry, has made headlines, and in some cases elicited harsh criticism of the filmmakers for their stance.

Said Bardem Thursday (see full text below), “While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife – which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war. I was raised to be against any act of violence, and the consequent suffering of humanity for it, regardless of religions, ethnicities and borders. Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief.”

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 1:35 PM: Penelope Cruz has issued a statement to clarify the open letter that she, husband Javier Bardem and director Pedro Almodovar signed yesterday, which called for an end to “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza strip against Palestinian civilians.” The comments were bound to be regarded as incendiary and polarizing, taking sides in a most controversial issue. Today, Cruz explains that her reaction was not motivated by politics as much as humanitarian concerns.
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Hot Trailer: Michael Keaton Takes Wing In Venice Film Festival Opener ‘Birdman’

Hot Trailer: Michael Keaton Takes Wing In Venice Film Festival Opener ‘Birdman’Below is the international trailer for Fox Searchlight’s Birdman. The Alejandro González Iñárritu-helmed black comedy is world premiering as the Venice Film Festival opener in competition on August 27. Michael Keaton leads an ensemble cast that includes Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan and Andrea Riseborough. Keaton plays an actor, famous for having portrayed an iconic superhero, who struggles to mount a Broadway play. Venice chief Alberto Barbera told me last week that he was excited for the film, which he says marks a departure for the helmer of Babel, 21 Grams and Biutiful. “It’s inventive and light” and full of surprises. It also got a nudge towards Venice from Inarritu’s pal — and helmer of last year’s fest opener Gravity — Alfonso Cuaron, who is expected on the Lido in support on opening night along with the full cast.

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Manga ‘Soul Reviver’ To Get New Life As Live-Action Film From Zwick & Herskovitz

By | Thursday July 31, 2014 @ 10:01am PDT

Manga ‘Soul Reviver’ To Get New Life As Live-Action Film From Zwick & HerskovitzEdward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz are partnering with Fields Corporation and All Nippon Entertainment Works on a live-action English-language adaptation of Japanese manga Soul ReViver. The supernatural action series was originally created in 2012 by Tohru Fujisawa and Manabu Akishige and has featured in Hero’s, a monthly Japanese comic magazine. The story centers on Jin and Clara, two soul revivers who have the ability to move between the worlds of the living and the dead and to bring certain people back whose mission on Earth was not complete at the time of their demise. There are currently four editions of the manga.

zwick herskovitzHerskovitz and Zwick will write the screenplay, and Zwick will direct. Their Bedford Falls will produce with Japan-based entertainment companies Fields and All Nippon. There’s currently no timeframe on the project. Zwick recently directed chess drama Pawn Sacrifice which is running in Toronto. He and Herskovitz are also producing Ron Howard’s upcoming Heart Of The Sea. The longtime partners have a history with Japanese culture, having made The Last Samurai in 2003. Read More »

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China To Limit “Cultural Pollution” With Cap On Imported TV Shows?

By | Thursday July 31, 2014 @ 8:42am PDT

China To Limit “Cultural Pollution” With Cap On Imported TV Shows?In 2012, China relaxed its feature film import quota, upping the total number of foreign movies eligible for a 25% revenue-share slot to 34. In the meantime, online has been a pretty freewheeling space where American culture has been given a large window to be exploited in the country. In the past few months, however, there has been an increase in cracking down on online content. And today, Chinese media says a plan may be afoot to impose a quota system on the licensing of overseas programs by video websites. The idea being mulled over by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television would have implications for video giants like Sohu, Youku Tudou and Tencent who collectively stream about 400 American and British TV shows — with audiences rabid for the likes of Sherlock, The Vampire Diaries and others.

I’m cautioned that there has been talk for a long time about applying stricter censorship enforcement to online content, and China specialist Rob Cain tells me, “It would be no surprise to see it enacted.” He says the Communist party “wants to set the rules of morality and proper conduct in China — essentially to keep people behaving in ‘appropriate’ ways that support, or at least don’t threaten, the (party)’s rule or legitimacy — and foreign programs are generally perceived as a threat, often referred to as ‘cultural pollution.’ ” Read More »

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Update: Salman Khan’s ‘Kick’ Punches Its Way To #1 At 2014 Bollywood Box Office

By | Thursday July 31, 2014 @ 4:12am PDT

Update: Salman Khan’s ‘Kick’ Punches Its Way To #1 At 2014 Bollywood Box Officekick movie posterUPDATE, THURSDAY AM: Salman Khan’s Kick may not have broken any all-time Bollywood records when it was released last Friday, but that hasn’t stopped it from racing to the top of the yearly charts. With 148.66 crore (about $25M) through Wednesday, the movie is now the top film of 2014 at home and is expected to continue to grow with no other big openers in the marketplace until August 8. Kick bested Khan’s own Jai Ho which was released in January and ultimately made 116 crore. Kick also becomes one of the fastest movies ever to pass the 100 crore mark, having done it in five days, as Bollywhood Hungama points out. That’s on a par with Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger, his highest grossing film ever, and just below last year’s Dhoom 3, Krrish 3 and Chennai Express. The latter film also came out during this same Eid holiday period that’s going on now. It’s one of the most lucrative at the Indian box office. Kick is still playing in North America and the UK and we should have updated figures for those runs this weekend.

PREVIOUS, TUESDAY AM: At 48 and with more than 80 films under his belt, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan is one of Indian cinema’s biggest draws. He shares A-List status with a group that includes Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan. Working in an industry whose box office is up to 90% driven by local movies, they have a rabid fanbase. And that spreads throughout the diaspora, making it a global event each time one of their films is released. Khan just returned to the Eid al Fitr holiday season with Kick, an action romance thriller released by UTV on Friday. Last week, I wrote about expectations for the highly-anticipated film’s debut, and with many figures now in, here’s the post-mortem on the latest from the legend.

Image (2) india-flag__130707193408-200x112.jpg for post 536351The film went out in India, North America, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other markets on Friday, performing well but falling short of all-time records. At home in India, Kick grossed an estimated 83.83 crore ($13.95M) on more than 4,000 screens for the biggest weekend debut of the year. It bested Khan’s earlier 2014 release Jai Ho, which did 60.68 crore in its first weekend in January. Kick is now the No. 6 all-time opener in India. The film marks something of a comeback for Khan, who in 2013 stepped out of the highly-profitable Eid corridor for the first time in years, leaving the date to rival Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express which broke several records upon release.

Outside its domestic market, Kick has an estimated take of about $3M through Sunday. While that’s a healthy perf, the $1.07M North American gross on 177 screens was well shy of Dhoom 3‘s $3.3M last year which remains the biggest Bollywood opener ever in North America (and the highest-grossing local film of all time). Read More »

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‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′, ‘22 Jump Street’ Help Sony Swing To Surprise Q1 Profit

‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′, ‘22 Jump Street’ Help Sony Swing To Surprise Q1 ProfitWith films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 22 Jump Street leading a recovery in its entertaiment division, Sony posted a surprise profit in revealing its first-quarter results this morning in Tokyo. For the whole of the company, net income rose to $260M or 26.8B yen versus 3.1B yen in the comparable 2013 quarter. Operating income hit 69.8B yen ($679M) up 96.7% from last year. As it struggles with a decrease in appetite for traditional consumer electronics, the company has ramped up its games business. Overall sales for the quarter were up 5.8% with the games segment making a large contribution via the PlayStation 4 which was launched in November 2013. The results today beat analyst expectations, but Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai maintained a previous full-year forecast for a net loss of 50B yen and an operating profit of 140B yen.

Sales and revenue in the games division jumped 95.7% to $2.5B and went from negative operating income to +$41.8M. In home entertainment which makes televisions and audio and video devices, sales increased 3.8% to $2.8B. The hike came from significant sales of LCD televisions, mainly in Europe and Asia Pacific — and were likely impacted by the World Cup. But there was also a decrease in the sale of Blu-ray disc players. The movie division, however posted a profit of about $76M, up 109.3% from last year. Sales and operating revenue were $1.9B. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has grossed about $706M worldwide, $504M of that from … Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: China Forum Held On Sino-U.S. Cooperation; Simon Cowell Named Mipcom Personality Of The Year; ITV Drama Lineup; More

Global Showbiz Briefs: China Forum Held On Sino-U.S. Cooperation; Simon Cowell Named Mipcom Personality Of The Year; ITV Drama Lineup; MoreAs I reported on Monday, the China Film Association has formed the International Communication Committee of the China Film Association. At an event held Tuesday in Beijing, the ICCCFA was unveiled to address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry. DMG Entertainment, whose president Wu Bing was named as VP of ICCCFA, helped organize the event. The ICCCFA’s focus will be to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, to enhance the development of the Chinese film industry by establishing best practices for partnering with China’s established and proven film companies to access the market. One of the major questions addressed was whether the Chinese film industry should China-And-Hollywood__130605112955-150x150__130925193515__131105220131support Hollywood studios making Chinese films or Chinese studios making Hollywood films. DMG’s Dan Mintz said the industry is “collectively agreeing on the latter as the correct agenda.” Along with the heads of many of China’s most influential state-backed film organizations, DMG escorted former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty to the forum. Talking about the long-term goal of global film and cultural balance, Schwake said: “Though Hollywood isn’t a perfect system, it is an industry that has benefited from 100-plus years of trial and error and adaptive evolution. It’s important for the governing entities in China to support their own industry leaders so that those entities can catch up to the U.S. studios and perhaps even surpass them some day.” Said Daugherty: “Yes, it takes a great story to make a great film, but to complete that journey takes a system that excels at development, finance, production, marketing, and distribution. Otherwise that great story just lays on a shelf.” Via the ICCCFA, the Chinese government has put an emphasis on building China’s cultural industries. Kang Jianmin, Secretary-General of the China Film Association, noted: “The mission of the Chinese film industry should not only focus on content, even though content is king. It should also nurture a solid foundation of new technology, creativity and talent – in other words, focusing on industry development at-large. This macro-strategy, if successfully implemented, will most rapidly create a world-class film industry.” Read More »

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‘Downton Abbey’ Broadcaster ITV Projects Growth, Will Not Sell Assets

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 3:50am PDT

‘Downton Abbey’ Broadcaster ITV Projects Growth, Will Not Sell AssetsITV, the UK’s leading — and highly acquisitive — commercial broadcaster said this morning that it’s on track to deliver another year of growth despite a 3% drop in viewing figures for the flagship channel over the first six months of 2014. In releasing its half-year results, the company says external revenues are up 7% to £1,225M ($2,074M). That includes increases in non-advertising, online, pay, interactive, and ITV Studios revenues. The latter, which is one of the key areas the company has been focusing on, is up 2% to £402M ($681M). ITV has acquired a slew of independent production companies over the past nearly two years, most recently taking 80% of Pawn Stars maker Leftfield Entertainment. The broadcaster has also been on a transformation plan to reduce debt and says its total cost savings for the full year is ahead of target at about £15M ($25.4M). The acquisitions, it says, will “ensure continued good growth in ITV Studios this year and into next year” while a return to organic growth will be seen in 2015 helped by investment in scripted programming. The evolving strategy will include an increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution. However, ITV is not expecting to be acquired itself. Liberty Global recently bought BSkyB’s 6.4% holding in ITV, but boss Adam Crozier said today that the broadcaster doesn’t plan to sell parts of its business. “We are certainly not considering selling off any parts of this business; … Read More »

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The Boy Who Lives: Warner Bros Sets Harry Potter Global Development Team

The Boy Who Lives: Warner Bros Sets Harry Potter Global Development TeamHarry Potter is also known as “the boy who lived” — and Warner Bros wants to keep it that way. The studio, which has been behind the franchise from the start way back in 2001, has now created a dedicated team to oversee its ongoing relationship with Potter creator JK Rowling. The Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team will be based in London and Burbank, and will help foster the studio’s expanded creative partnership with Rowling. Warner UK, Ireland and Spain President and Managing Director Josh Berger will add the title of President of HPGFD to his current role. The team will develop and execute a “high-level strategic vision” for the Potter brand, and its ancillary businesses, working closely with Rowling’s team at The Blair Partnership and other stakeholders and partners. Berger will be supported by Polly Cochrane in London, and Paul Condolora in Burbank.

Warner says the creation of HPGFD reflects the continuing expansion of the Potter franchise. That now includes the upcoming film series Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them; the Making of Harry Potter studio tour at Warner’s Leavesden Studios outside London; the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan and the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida; a suite of Harry Potter digital services and products including the website Pottermore; and the Harry Potter stage play, which will open on the West End next year.
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Lily James, Paul Dano Circling BBC, Weinstein Co ‘War And Peace’ Miniseries

Lily James, Paul Dano Circling BBC, Weinstein Co ‘War And Peace’ MiniseriesEXCLUSIVE: The six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War And Peace is beginning to cast up. I hear that Downton Abbey’s Lily James and PrisonersPaul Dano have offers for lead roles and are seriously circling. The mini hails from BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Co and Ripper Street‘s Look Out Point. Described as one of the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC, it will be produced by BBC Cymru Wales and scripted by Andrew Davies. James would play Natasha Rostova, one of the novel’s central War and Peacecharacters, who ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. Dano would play Pierre. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.

The notoriously expansive novel begins in 1805 Russia and revolves around five aristocratic families set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Executive producers on the mini are BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, BBC Wales’ George Ormond, Davies, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and Harvey Weinstein.

The miniseries is due for air in the UK in 2015 and was a first sign of The Weinstein Co’s ambitions to forge into the European TV arena when it was announced in October. The company subsequently teamed with the BBC and Look Out on upcoming TV movie Stan And Ollie, which is being scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope. TWC also acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons of BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Nat Geo Wild Orders More Of Arrow’s ‘Animal Fight Night’; ‘The Voice’ Sings In Croatia, India; ‘Top Gear’ Falls Foul Of Ofcom; More

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 1:28am PDT

Global Showbiz Briefs: Nat Geo Wild Orders More Of Arrow’s ‘Animal Fight Night’; ‘The Voice’ Sings In Croatia, India; ‘Top Gear’ Falls Foul Of Ofcom; MoreThe UK’s Arrow Media has received a commission for six more hours of its wildlife show Animal Fight Night which premieres on Nat Geo WILD in the U.S. on August 18 before rolling out internationally in September. Animal Fight Night was first launched in the U.S. in October last year. It was Arrow Media’s first move into natural history programming and the company later received orders for Building Penguin Paradise (Nat Geo WILD) and Dogs: Their Secret Lives (Channel 4). Each Animal Fight Night episode uses CGI to recreate and examine same species battles between animal world adversaries and dissects the science behind the tactics and bodily weapons that various creatures employ. Read More »

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FINAL: Intl Box Office: ‘Apes’ Dawns Again; ‘Godzilla’ Stomps Japan; ‘Hercules’ Muscles In; ‘Transformers’ $300M+ In China; Asia Action Ramps Up; More

FINAL: Intl Box Office: ‘Apes’ Dawns Again; ‘Godzilla’ Stomps Japan; ‘Hercules’ Muscles In; ‘Transformers’ $300M+ In China; Asia Action Ramps Up; More3RD UPDATE, MONDAY 3:10 PM PT: All studios have reported actuals for the international weekend with no major discrepancies between the cumulative estimates reported Sunday and what’s come across today. Across the top titles, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes was up a tick to $54.84M from an estimated $54.4M; Transformers: Age Of Extinction was slightly lower at $36.9M versus $37.5M; Hercules was smack on with $28.7M; and How To Train Your Dragon 2 was up a whisker at $24.4M versus the $24M estimate.

cinemaworldOne notable factoid is that for the 2nd weekend in a row, numbers on Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy Blended are higher than expected. Yesterday, they were estimated at $3.8M in 47 markets. Today, Warner says the actuals are $4.25M. That takes the overseas cume to $66.6M – the domestic cume was $45.4M. In Brazil, the film has been especially strong, adding $1.7M this weekend for a local cume of $6.8M and a slight 18% drop from last frame. When I asked what the deal is with Sandler, Blended and Brazil, I was told that his films are roundly popular there where family fare is also big – and this one is now bigger than Grown Ups, 50 First Dates, Bedtime Stories, Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Chuck And Larry.

Along with the above films, all figures throughout the below have been updated on: Planes: Fire & Rescue, Godzilla, Step Up All In, Sex Tape, The Purge: Anarchy, Maleficent, The Fault In Our Stars, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’ Movie, 22 Jump Street, Deliver Us From Evil, Neighbors, Kick, Edge Of Tomorrow, and Boyhood. Read More »

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China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ Rival

China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ RivalA forum to be held this week in Beijing will address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry, especially as they regard cooperation with the U.S. The state-backed China Film Association has created the International Communication Committee of CFA in an effort to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, in how to partner with China’s film entities to access the market. As Hollywood increasingly seek to establish ties to China, some thorny issues have crept up. Recently, Transformers: Age Of Extinction has faced criticism from sponsors over their portrayal, while the Chinese are understood to be concerned about foreign press coverage of reported extortion attempts on the set in Hong Kong last year. I hear folks expected to attend the forum include top execs from SAPPRFT, China Film Group, Huaxia Films, the CFA and DMG. Also expected to attend panels and presentations are former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent).

Image (2) AVATAR__140529163007-275x171.jpg for post 737462With Avatar the 2nd highest-grossing film in Chinese history, local producers are looking to cash in with their own rival take. The state-backed Xinhua news agency reports that Beijing Chinese Century Media Company is prepping 3D fantasy film Bainiaoyi to shoot in May 2015 in Hengxian County for release at the end of 2016. The tale based on Zhuang folklore follows a young … Read More »

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Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones Set Up House Of Tomorrow At Endemol UK

Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones Set Up House Of Tomorrow At Endemol UKcharlie brookerannabel jonesRegular collaborators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have launched production company House of Tomorrow at Endemol UK. The new outfit will produce dramas, comedy series and feature films for the UK and international markets and already has projects in development at U.S. and UK networks. Writer/host/producer Brooker will be Creative Director of House Of Tomorrow and Jones will be Managing Director. The pair were previously aligned at Endemol-owned comedy producer Zeppotron. Their collaborations have included widely sold series like the International Emmy winning satirical drama Black Mirror, detective spoof A Touch of Cloth and BAFTA nominated thriller Dead Set. Jones also exec produces popular BBC comedy Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe. She was formerly Endemol UK’s head of business developement and headed up the group’s M&A team. As Endemol increases its scripted footprint around the globe, it will add House of Tomorrow to its growing stable of drama producers including Tiger Aspect Productions and Artists Studio. The Big Brother producer also recently entered an exclusive first-look development and distribution deal with UK drama producer Mam Tor Productions Limited.

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Working Title To Launch Family Franchise Based On Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’

By | Friday July 25, 2014 @ 2:10am PDT

Working Title To Launch Family Franchise Based On Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’working titleEXCLUSIVE: Enid Blyton has been called the JK Rowling of her time. The English writer who was born in 1897 is one of the biggest selling children’s authors in history with global sales of over 600M books. One of her most iconic series is The Famous Five, and I hear Working Title has just acquired theatrical rights to the full library. That includes over 20 novels which center on the adventures of a group of four young children and their dog Timmy. I understand the plan is to launch a live-action franchise based on the books, the first of which was published in 1942 under the title Five On A treasure Island. The deal was sealed with publisher Hodder, a subsidiary of Hachette which owns the Blyton estate.

famous five working titleThis is spiffing news for Working Title which is understood to be out to directors and on a fast-tracked development schedule. A first live-action family-friendly epic adventure film would feature the kids as well as eyeing star cameos in the various adult roles. The books all take place during summer vacations when the friends return from boarding school and get mixed up in an adventure. Working Title has a history with family brands that include the Nanny McPhee and Johnny English films. The Famous Five series will look to tap into a similar space as the Tintin and … Read More »

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BSkyB To Acquire Fox’s Sky Italia & Deutschland Stakes, Create European Giant

BSkyB To Acquire Fox’s Sky Italia & Deutschland Stakes, Create European GiantAs expected, BSkyB said this morning that it will create “a world-class multinational pay TV business” with the acquisition of 100% of Sky Italia and 57.4% of Sky Deutschland. The UK’s leading pay-TV player has acquired the stakes from Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox in a deal worth about £4.9B ($8.3B) in cash, plus assets. (Fox owns and will retain a 39% stake in BSkyB.) The combined group will have 20M subscribers in Europe across three of the four biggest markets. BSkyB will pay £2.07B for Sky Italia and £2.9B for Deutschland. It will also transfer its 21% ownership of National Geographic Channel to Fox at a value of £382M ($649M). That will raise Fox’s stake in the channel to 73%. BSkyB says it will also launch a voluntary cash offer to the remaining shareholders of Sky Deutschland at 6.75 euros ($9) per share. Subject to the number of shareholders who accept the offer, the overall cash value of the deals announced today could reach £7B ($11.9B). The moves come as BSkyB reported adjusted revenue for the year was up 7% to £7.6B ($2.9B).

The moves to create Sky Europe also come as Fox pursues a mega-acquisition of Time Warner. While speculation has been that the deal to combine the Skys was designed to raise funds for another eventual run at TW, it’s also considered that this deal has a distinct raison d’être and exists on its own … Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Venice Film Festival To Expand Online Screenings; StudioCanal Sets Thriller ‘’71’ For October In UK; More

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 10:00pm PDT

Global Showbiz Briefs: Venice Film Festival To Expand Online Screenings; StudioCanal Sets Thriller ‘’71’ For October In UK; MoreThe Venice Film Festival, which announced its lineup this morning, is expanding its online screening offering this year. Sala Web, the initiative that acts as a parallel online showcase for films officially selected in the Horizons and Biennale College sidebars, this year will be available 24 hours a day over five days from anywhere in the world. The virtual screening room provides a limited viewing window during the festival with a capped allotment of tickets to be sold through a dedicated online box office. Films selected make their online world premieres in the Sala Web simultaneously with their official presentations on the Lido. Tickets priced at 4 each go on sale in mid-August at www.labiennale.org. The fest runs August 27-September 6.

Jack O'Connell in '71StudioCanal has set an October 10 UK release date for ’71, the Yann Demange-directed thriller that played to great reception in Berlin this year. Rising star Jack O’Connell plays a young British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape. Sean Harris, Killian Scott, Martin McCann and Charlie Murphy also star. Gregory Burke wrote the screenplay. Roadside Attractions has U.S. distribution.

If ’71 is looking to bring in the male-skewing crowd, then … Read More »

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BSkyB Deal To Create Sky Europe Said Nearing

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 11:16am PDT

BSkyB Deal To Create Sky Europe Said NearingWhen BSkyB reports its full-year results tomorrow, it is expected to announce a deal to acquire 57% of Sky Deutschland and 100% of Sky Italia from 21st Century Fox. Speculation has swirled that this deal is near since it emerged that Rupert Murdoch’s behemoth had bid $80B bid for Time Warner. In May, UK pay-TV giant BSkyB confirmed it had initiated preliminary discussions with Fox to evaluate a potential acquisition of the latter’s pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. Fox also owns 39.1% of BSkyB. A combination of the businesses would have about 20M subscribers, and could also provide a payday to Fox of an estimated $13B. I’ve been cautioned that these funds are not necessary for Fox to be able to up its bid for TW, but it would put extra money in the coffers while creating a huge pan-European group. “It could just be that 21st Century Fox sees it as a useful way of generating funds and eases management time to concentrate on other things. But the reason for doing it would exist on its own merits,” Enders Analysis’ Toby Syfret tells me. It’s worth remembering that English Premier League soccer rights are coming to auction again in 2015 and extra cash could certainly come in handy. Read More »

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