Banijay, the group behind the original Stars In Danger: The High Dive and owner of Bunim/Murray Prods., has acquired 50% of Italian TV producer Ambra Multimedia. That company was recently founded by Marco Bassetti who has just been named Banijay Group CEO. Bassetti founded Endemol Italy in 1997 and was eventually appointed president of Endemol Group, taking over CEO responsibilities before stepping down in April 2012. Bassetti will be responsible for the international development of Banijay Group which is present in 12 countries in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. At the same time, Banijay EVP François de Brugada has been promoted to COO.
China’s 2012 Box Office Up 30% To $2.74B
China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has released updated box office figures for 2012 with sales hitting $2.74B for a 30.18% increase over last year. SARFT said the nation produced 893 total films last year including 745 features and 33 animated pictures, the Xinhua news agency reported. On its way to an estimated 16,000 screens by 2015, the country is adding 10.5 screens a day. As noted last week, however, those screens are increasingly drawing crowds for foreign films which have eaten into the local share. Imports took $1.4B in box office for 51.54% of the market in 2012. Still, homegrown hit Lost In Thailand recently became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time with nearly $190M in less than a month of release.
Niklas Lagergren Leaves MPA For News Corp’s Brussels Office
News Corp. has named Niklas Lagergren as SVP government affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Lagergren joins the company from the Motion Picture Association where he was most recently VP for EU affairs, working closely with the Hollywood majors at the European level. He will start the job on March 1, based at the company’s new Brussel’s office. Lagergren, who has been with the MPA for over 10 years, said, “I have been both professionally and personally committed to representing the public affairs interests of media companies and I am now fortunate to be able to take my efforts to a new level by joining the leader in global media.” News Corp. also appointed Benjamin King director of government affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa, reporting to Lagergren. He was formerly public affairs manager for News International.
German Producers Plan Pope Benedict Biopic
The Odeon Film company said German producers Marcus Mende and Peter Weckert have acquired film rights to an upcoming biography of Pope Bendict XVI by journalist Peter Seewald. The bio is to be published in early 2014, Reuters reported. Seewald, who has signed on as a consultant for the film, previously authored three book-length interviews with Benedict – two as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and one as pope. Benedict’s predecessor Pope John Paul was the subject of a dozen documentary films around the world and two major television movies in the United States.
In one of two recent format disputes, the Banijay Group has won a ruling to stop broadcaster SBS and The Voice creator Talpa Media from using the title The Next Popstar for an upcoming Dutch talent show. Banijay objected to the name, saying it too closely resembled its own format, Popstars. That show, which has spawned versions in more than 50 countries, ran for three years on SBS’ SBS6, the same channel that The Next Popstar was targeting in the Netherlands. In its decision, the District Court of The Hague prohibited Talpa and SBS from using the name going forward based on an article of the Paris Convention relating to well-known trademarks. Banijay recently acquired a majority stake in Australian production company Screentime, which in 1999 created the Popstars format that served as a precursor to the Idol series of singing competition shows.