Creative England, the British Film Institute, BBC Films and Skillset are partnering on the second go-round of iFeatures, a low-budget film initiative for indie filmmakers in the UK. The program provides development and production support for three features budgeted at £350,000 that will be shot in England. The last iFeatures round included just-completed romantic comedy 8 Minutes Idle, starring Ophelia Lovibond, Tom Hughes and Antonia Thomas; and the Helen McCrory-starrer Flying Blind, which is currently in post. ContentFilm is handling sales on both while the BBC will pre-buy free-TV rights to the next three films to go through the scheme. Submissions are open for iFeatures² through May 3. Here’s the release:
‘Arthur Christmas’ Slays ‘Em In The UK
Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman’s Arthur Christmas jumped to the top of the UK box office this weekend – in its fourth week of release. This bit of holiday magic came courtesy of a £1.9 million weekend take for a cume of £11.5 million. The film has been holding steady in second place since it bowed on November 11 and this weekend faced off against Happy Feet Two for the family audience. Largely positive notices and the British voice cast — including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton — have no doubt been a local draw. Sony Pictures Releasing UK’s Peter Taylor said: “Opening a movie at No. 1 in such a competitive market as the UK is difficult enough, but to reach the top of the chart in the fourth week of release is almost unprecedented. We are all delighted.”
Tom Hooper Decides Against 3D For ‘Les Miserables’
Although director Tom Hooper flirted with the idea of filming the new movie version of the hit stage musical Les Miserables in 3D, the Oscar-winning helmer of The King’s Speech has decided to stick with 2D. Hooper told the BBC he had been “very tempted” to use 3D but worried that some audiences might “physically struggle” with the format. Not to worry, purists. “I can definitely announce it’s good old-fashioned 2D,” Hooper said at the British Independent Film Awards. “I wanted to make a film that would touch everyone. I believe the story is so strong, 3D is not essential.” Hooper added that the casting of Eponine and Cosette would be announced soon. “I’ve never done a film where big star actors are as obsessed with being in it as this.” Starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert,
Creative England Launches, Sets Its Board And Funding
A new organization has risen from the ashes of the UK Film Council’s network of regional screen agencies. At its launch the nonprofit venture Creative England announced 7 board members and 3 senior managers and outlined its funding structure. On the board of Creative England are: Ruby Films founder Alison Owen, Illumina Digital’s Andrew Chitty, Reel Solutions executive director Bill Lawrence, Twofour Group CEO Charles Wace, former Shed Media chair Heather Rabbatts, Maverick TV’s Jonnie Turpie and BBC Four Controller Richard Klein. For 10 years, the regional screen agencies supported industries including film, TV, games and digital media across England outside of London. Creative England will have an initial film budget of £900,000 in grant-in-aid from the British Film Institute and £1m in lottery funds. The funding for other creative endeavors will come from public and commercial sources.
‘Tintin’ Will Screen At Rome Film Festival
Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn will screen at the International Rome Film Festival. Organizers announced that the 3D motion capture movie has been chosen as an out-of-competition official selection. It also will screen in the Alice sidebar focused on youth films. The film’s star Jamie Bell is set to attend the festival, which runs Oct. 27-Nov. 4. Tintin opens in Europe on Oct. 26 before its U.S. rollout on Dec. 21.