It was a two-continent crush of crazy at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood today when Feng Xiaogang became the first Chinese director to sinks his hands and shoes into wet cement for posterity at the storied venue.
Feng, who has directed more than 20 mostly comedy films in China, is having the U.S. premiere of his historical drama Back to 1942 — China’s entry for the Foreign Language Film Oscar — at the theater this evening. It’s part of a weekend-long “panorama” featuring screenings of some of Feng’s notable films, sponsored by the Chinese government media office and the city of Beijing’s bureau of radio, film and TV. Back to 1942, set during the horrific World War II famine that killed millions in China, features a raft of notable Chinese stars along with Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody.
Theater executives said they were surprised and a bit overwhelmed by the crush of media, actors, directors and others who flew over from China to take part in Feng’s imprinting event. Security struggled to both appease the fire marshal and manage the crowd jammed into the theater’s relatively small courtyard.
New arrivals to the specialty market don’t include any marquee Oscar contenders compared to recent weeks. What we have is a hodgepodge of cross-genre fare. Abramorama’s Addicted To Fame takes a behind-the-scenes look at a film set with a troubled star. Magnet Releasing’s Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning is a follow-up to the previous Jean-Claude Van Damme pic which took a circuitous route to the big screen. China Lion’s Back To 1942 may find appeal beyond its core Chinese American audience with the participation of Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins, while Pantelion Films/Lionsgate’s Hecho En México rolls out in Los Angeles with Mexican culture in the spotlight. And Ex-Girlfriends aims to capitalize on micro-budget DIY marketing.
Addicted To Fame
Writer-director: David Giancola
Subjects: Anna Nicole Smith, David Giancola, John James
When David Giancola directed Illegal Aliens (2007) starring Anna Nicole Smith, he assigned cameramen to shoot behind-the-scenes footage. “He possibly anticipated [Smith's] unfortunate deterioration…” noted Addicted To Fame executive producer Richard Abramowitz. “It kept getting worse because her circumstances kept getting worse.”
Abramowitz, who teaches a film class in addition to his producing and distribution responsibilities, said he’d like to show Addicted To Fame to his class because “they don’t teach you this,” he said. “How do you deal with this on set with a star who is functionally illiterate and has personal, emotional problems?” Abramowitz said the filmmaking team is mindful that the movie could come across as opportunistic, and they are trying to release the title “respectfully while not disguising what it is.” Read More »
A+E Names Sally Habbershaw International VP
Sally Habbershaw has joined A+E Networks as VP international programming, production and operations. Based in New York, Habbershaw will manage teams responsible for those areas and oversee the A+E Networks program catalog. She will also be expected to help boost ratings and launch new channel brands. Habbershaw reports to Christian Murphy, SVP international programming and marketing. Habbershaw joins A+E Networks from AMC Networks where she was VP of acquisitions, scheduling and promotions at Sundance and WE Global. Prior to that she worked for Viacom as director of development for VH1 in the U.S. and as VP general manager for VH1 UK in London. Read More »
Australia’s FTA Networks Outperform International Peers But Pay-TV’s Margins Are World Leaders Australia’s three commercial free-to-air networks have been zapped by falling revenues and profits and rising costs but collectively are outperforming their peers around the world, according to a Citi survey of FTA broadcasters in 12 developed markets, excluding the U.S. The Seven, Nine and Ten networks will post average pre-tax earnings of 22% this year, above the European average of 19%, Citi found. Australia’s commercial networks command a 69% share of total viewing, higher than every other country surveyed except Italy’s 82%. Citi’s report says Australia’s pay-TV services are the most expensive in the world, with average annual revenue per subscriber of nearly $A1,100 ($1,139), which it believes may explain the low penetration rate of 26% (the pay industry claims it’s 34%). However Citi rates Australian pay-TV operators Foxtel and Fox Sports as world leaders in that category, racking up pre-tax earnings of 38.9%, ahead of Cablevision’s 33%, Comcast’s 32%, DirecTV’s 26% and BSkyB’s 21%. - Don GrovesRead More »
Director Feng Xiaogang’s Back To 1942 explores a devastating drought and famine in Hunan Province that occurred at the same time Japanese forces were invading China. Here’s an international trailer for the movie which doesn’t have a U.S. release date but it’s one of a handful of movies IMAX and the Huayi Bros Group studio are remastering for the giant-screen treatment in China.