A 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).
With 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 »
André Rieu Concert Sets UK Box Office Record
Flying the flag for event cinema, André Rieu’s 2014 10th Anniversary Maastricht Concert became the UK’s highest-grossing music event of all time at the box office this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, CinemaLive screened the concert at 410 locations across the UK and Ireland, grossing $1.42M. The concert also screened at 234 moviehouses in European markets including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Romania, Finland and Croatia, bringing the total gross box office figure to more than $2.05M for the weekend. Rieu’s July 2013 cinema concert event set UK records with about $766K. The massive jump this year is one more feather in the cap of live event cinema which has been growing in popularity with music- and theater-loving crowds. Classical violinist Rieu, aka “The King of Waltz”, is known for his energetic and festive live performances. He has sold more than 35M albums worldwide. Further screenings of the concert will take place this coming weekend in Australia and New Zealand, followed by Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Russia and South East Asia to ultimately reach more than 1,000 cinema screens in 35 countries. Pretty soon, I’ll have to start adding these to my international weekend box office reports.
Venice Critics’ Week Lineup Revealed
The National Union of Italian Film Critics has unveiled its selection for the 29th running of Critics’ Week at the … Read More »
BBC Worldwide has apologized for recent leaks of scripts and footage from the new series of Doctor Who. The commercial arm of the broadcaster said a damaging “mistake” resulted in the exposure of five scripts and the first six unfinished episodes from Series 8 on a publicly accessible FTP site. It thanked fans for their efforts at helping to contain the leaks and said it has put in place a plan using new technology and internal manpower to limit any illegal activity. “BBC Worldwide has taken this issue extremely seriously and disciplinary action has been implemented as a result of the incident,” it added, and offered “sincere apologies” to showrunner Steven Moffat, the cast and the production team. Doctor Who returns on August 23 with Peter Capaldi as the latest incarnation of the Time Lord.
Entertainment One has acquired Canadian factual programming producer Paperny Entertainment from partners David Paperny, Cal Shumiatcher and Audrey Mehler. With the acquisition, Canadian giant eOne says it intends to ramp up its activity in unscripted television production across North America. Vancouver-based Paperny also has operations in Toronto and New York. It has produced over 500 hours of programming since its inception in 1994. The company is expected to deliver a further 80 hours of original programming this year. Its recent and returning shows include Timber Kings (HGTV), Cold Water Cowboys (Discovery Channel Canada), Yukon … Read More »
Turkey has increasingly put its footprint on scripted and non-scripted formats that can travel, with both drama The End and competition series Keep Your Light Shining selling to the U.S. in the past year. Global Agency, which handled the latter, has now sold its modern-day drama series 1,001 Nights into Uruguay via Canal 10 S.A.E.T.A TV, and to MundoFox for Hispanic audiences in the U.S. The series, originally titled Binbir Gece, previously sold to Chile where it has had strong ratings in primetime and has become the most successful import in the country’s history. The performance has opened the way for new negotiations in other countries in the region such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. It previously aired in Turkey for three seasons on Kanal D and is also shown in more than 50 markets, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. Read More »
In a further push into China’s entertainment sphere, e-commerce giant Alibaba has pacted with Lionsgate to launch Lionsgate Entertainment World, a subscription streaming service for the mainland. The service will be available exclusively through Alibaba’s set-top boxes and will give users access to high-profile Lionsgate titles including Divergent (which has not had a theatrical release in China), pics from the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises, and TV series The Royals, Nashville and Mad Men. The deal gives Lionsgate bigger exposure in the fast-growing Chinese market where many consumers watch content online — which has traditionally flown lower under the radar of the Middle Kingdom’s famous censors. Alibaba filed for a U.S. IPO earlier this year and recently took a majority stake in ChinaVision Media Group, now Alibaba Pictures Group, as part of its bid to expand. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has also recently approached Chinese film studios about creating or acquiring content for its online service, and that it is eyeing further investment in local studios. Launch of Lionsgate Entertainment World is expected next month. David U. Lee, founder and president of Leeding Media, helped orchestrate the agreement. Read More »
Sky Atlantic Sets Steve Coogan For New Season Of ‘Mid Morning Matters’
After bringing his long-running Alan Partridge character to the big screen last year, Steve Coogan will return as the socially awkward North Norfolk digital radio DJ in a new season of Mid Morning Matters on the UK’s Sky Atlantic HD. Shooting has started on the six-part series that’s produced by Coogan’s Baby Cow. A 2015 airdate is planned. Along with the new episodes, Sky Atlantic has also ordered a one-hour documentary special hosted by Partridge. Before making his feature debut, Partridge, created in 1991 by Coogan and Armando Iannucci, returned to UK TV in June 2012 with two Sky Atlantic specials, Welcome To The Places Of My Life and Alan Partridge On Open Books With Martin Bryce. Coogan won a BAFTA as lead male in a comedy program for Places Of My Life, which was Sky Atlantic’s highest-rated comedy commission. Those programs were followed by a six-part special edition of the first season of Mid Morning Matters. The new series is written by Coogan, Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons and produced by Ted Dowd. Executive producers are Coogan and Henry Normal for Baby Cow Productions. Coogan last year was nominated with co-writer Jeff Pope for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Philomena. The pair won the BAFTA in the same category. Speaking as Partridge today, Coogan said: “I am both thrilled, humbled, gladdened and excited to be bringing Mid Morning Matters back to … Read More »
Henry Czerny Cast In Atom Egoyan’s ‘Remember’
Revenge actor Henry Czerny has joined the cast of Atom Egoyan’s Remember. Christopher Plummer stars in the thriller in which the darkest chapter of modern history collides with a contemporary mission of … revenge. Czerny most recently was seen playing Conrad Grayson on the ABC primetime soap in which the character met his demise during the Season 3 finale – or did he? Either way, he’ll play Plummer’s son in the film on which IM Global’s specialty label Acclaim is handling world sales. Producers are Robert Lantos and Ari Lantos. Mark Musselman and Anant Singh are the executive producers. Czerny is repped by Domain and manager Perry Zimel.
Michelle Gomez Joins ‘Doctor Who’ Cast
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education, Green Wing) is joining the cast of Doctor Who. She will play the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere when the series returns on August 23 with Peter Capaldi as the latest incarnation of the Time Lord. Lead writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat says: “I’ve known Michelle for years, and I’m thrilled to welcome her to Doctor Who. She’s everything we need — brilliant, Scottish, and a tiny bit satanic.” Filming is well underway for Series 8 of Doctor Who. Confirmed guest stars include Frank Skinner, Ben Miller, Tom Riley, Keeley Hawes and Hermione Norris. Read More »
The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol, England will be the home of Disney’s ABC Studios’ Galavant when it shoots later this summer. Pre-production started this week in the west of England and filming begins in August. Galavant is one of the major U.S. series to decamp to Britain this year to take advantage of the lucrative TV tax credit. The musical comedy fairytale from Dan Fogelman stars Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Vinnie Jones, Mallory Jansen, Karen David and Luke Youngblood. Also currently filming at Bottle Yard are BBC Two’s Wolf Hall, BBC One’s Poldark, Sky 1 comedy Trollied, and Channel 4’s Deal Or No Deal.
Australia’s Foxtel has unveiled the cast of miniseries Deadline Gallipoli. Joining Sam Worthington in the drama that just started shooting, are Hugh Dancy, Rachel Griffiths, Bryan Brown, Ewan Leslie, Jessica De Gouw, Anna Torv, John Bell, James Fraser, Charles Dance, and newcomer Joel Jackson. Worthington is co-producing the chronicle of the Aussie and English journalists who covered the World War I battle and were instrumental in the decision to end the campaign against Turkish forces. Charles Bean, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, Phillip Schuler and Keith Murdoch (Rupert’s dad) were the first truly embedded war correspondents whose defiance ignited a change in the campaign’s course and whose commitment to the stories of the men turned the war from a strategic failure into a … Read More »
Lucasfilm has appointed Teresa Cheng as General Manager for Lucasfilm Singapore. She joins the company from DreamWorks Animation where she was senior production executive for the joint venture between DWA and Oriental DreamWorks. Cheng has also held senior positions at Warner Bros, Rhytym & Hues and Digital Domain. Feature credits include Shrek Forever After, Madagascar, Batman & Robin and True Lies. In January, George Lucas unveiled Lucasfilm’s new digital production headquarters in the Southeast Asian city-state, replete with the Sandcrawler building that sits on a 22,500 square meter campus. Industrial Light & Magic Singapore is currently working on Transformers: Age of Extinction, Star Wars Episode VII and Agent 47. Colin Brown, who has served as Lucasfilm Singapore’s interim GM for the past seven months, will remain with the company through the summer to help transition Cheng into her new post. She will report to Lynwen Brennan, President and GM of ILM. Read More »
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne confirmed on Tuesday night that the UK’s relationship with Star Wars will continue. The MP was at Pinewood – where JJ Abrams’ Episode VII moved onto soundstages about 10 days ago – and tweeted, “On set of Episode VII tonight, can announce another #StarWars film will be made in UK. A #LongTermEconomicPlan in a galaxy far far away.” The Conservative politician caught a lot of flack on Twitter for the latter remark, but by and large the Star Wars movies, and other big Hollywood projects, are bringing a flood of money into the UK which has very lucrative film tax breaks. The currently filming Episode VII is due for release on December 18, 2015 and the standalone Star Wars Osborne referred to last night will also be shot next year. The spinoff is being directed by Gareth Edwards. Per local reports, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid added last night, “Given Lucasfilm’s decision to film another Star Wars movie in the UK, it is clear that the Force is strong here.” Read More »
Shine International has taken on international distribution for ITV’s Code Of A Killer and Channel 5’s Rome: The World’s First Superpower. The former, produced by World Productions, tells the true story of Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA fingerprinting in the 1980s and its first use by detective David Baker (played by David Threlfall) in solving a double murder only three miles from Jeffreys’ lab. James Strong (Broadchurch/Gracepoint) is set to direct the two-part drama, which shoots in September. Rome: The World’s First Superpower is co-produced by 360Production and GroupM Entertainment. It looks at the major heroes and villains from Hannibal and Julius Caesar to Spartacus and Cleopatra and tells the story of how one small city among many conquered the world and then ran it for nearly 1,000 years. Read More »
UK director Peter Nicholson (Nuremberg: Goering’s Last Stand, Pompeii: The Last Day) is prepping feature psychological thriller Dartmoor Killing with principal photography to begin on June 10th. Isabelle Grey (Accused) wrote the script about two twentysomething friends who are led into a web of mind games, sexual deceit and betrayal when they meet an enigmatic stranger on a weekend trip. Gemma-Leah Devereux (The Tudors), Rebecca Night (Lark Rise To Candleford) and Callum Blue (Colombiana, Smallville) star with David Hayman (Queen And Country, Jack Ryan) and theater actress Olivia Morgan also in the cast. Producer is Jayne Chard with Penny Wolf and Luke Randolph exec producing. The film was developed with the support of Film London’s Build Your Audience and Micro- Market. Read More »
Lionsgate has entered a new and expanded multi-year output deal with longstanding partner Nordisk Film in Scandinavia. The agreement covers upcoming Lionsgate and Summit titles including the next two Hunger Games franchise installments; the next three films in the recently-launched Divergent franchise; sequel Now You See Me 2; crime thriller Child 44 and Alex Proyas’ Gods Of Egypt. “Lionsgate and Summit have enjoyed a tremendous relationship with Nordisk over the years, partnering on nearly 200 films, including the launch of the Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent franchises,” say Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman. “We’re delighted to celebrate the renewal of our output deal with our strongest and most diverse slate ever, and we look forward to expanding our partnership with Nordisk on the production front as well.”
Picturehouse Entertainment will stream the BBC Radio 2 D-Day concert at The Royal Albert Hall live to UK cinemas on June 6. The concert is part of BBC Radio 2′s D-Day activity which culminates in the D-Day 70 Years On special at the Royal Albert. The live cinema broadcast is a means for elderly veterans and others who are unable to travel to London or France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Hosts Jeremy Vine, Dermot O’Leary and Louise Minchin will re-tell the story of key moments of D-Day alongside a cast of actors led by Patrick Stewart as Winston Churchill. The show will go out through Cineworld, Picturehouse, Vue and independent cinemas across the UK and proceeds will be donated to charities including The Royal British Legion. Stewart says, “I am delighted and proud to be part of this anniversary commemoration. Churchill wrote English to be spoken and I have always loved quoting his remark that ‘The greatest virtue is courage, because it makes all the other virtues possible’.” Read More »
UK omnibus 50 Kisses is entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest roster of co-writers on a feature film. The 51 scribes will gather today at BAFTA headquarters in London for a special screening of the film that beat the previous record holder, 1943’s Forever And A Day. That film had 21 writers including an uncredited Alfred Hitchcock. The British 50 Kisses was produced by the London Screenwriters’ Festival. Two years ago, it invited writers to submit two-page scripts featuring at least one kiss and set on Valentine’s Day. The 50 best scripts were released online with an open invitation for filmmakers to produce them. Ultimately, 127 shorts were made and those were edited down to produce 50 Kisses. The finished product was released on February 13 this year, earning a per-screen average of nearly £9,500. The end credits run for 17 minutes. Read More »
Britain’s Sky Atlantic HD is making sure Game Of Thrones fans don’t have to wait to see the first episode of the upcoming fourth season. The pay channel will premiere the season debut simultaneously with HBO’s U.S. East Coast transmission. Catering to the faithful, it will air on Monday April 7 at 2 AM and then be repeated in primetime at 9 PM UK time. Following the first 2 AM transmission, the premiere episode will also be available on demand. After that, Game Of Thrones will settle into its regular time slot. The move is not unprecedented for Sky which has done similar simulcasts with the series finales of Lost and Fringe. Read More »
XYZ Films has joined Spanish-language actioner Redeemer as executive producer and sales agent. The movie, Redentor in Spanish, stars Chile’s Marko Zaror (Expendables 2, Machete Kills). He’s teaming for the fourth time with writer director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. This time around, the story follows a former hitman who has made a deal with God: Every day he will hold a gun to his own head and pull the trigger; each time he does not die, he will take it as a sign that he is meant to continue hunting down the men he used to work for. Principal photography starts on March 24 in Chile. Zaror is a highly trained martial artist across multiple disciplines who performs all of his own fight and stunt work without any wires or CGI tricks. Espinoza recently was editor on Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno and his credits as director also include Kiltro, The ABCs Of Death anthology and Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman. Espinoza, Zaror and Diego Moral Heimpell are producers. Read More »
Arrow Films has acquired UK rights to God’s Pocket starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Sold by Electric Entertainment, the film is the feature directorial debut of Mad Men’s John Slattery. Electric acquired it at Sundance. IFC has U.S. distribution and Arrow will release later this year in Britain. Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro and Caleb Landry Jones also star in the film written by Slattery and Alex Metcalf. Based on the Pete Dexter novel, the movie follows a man who tries to cover up the accidental death of his stepson in a blue collar neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Arrow’s recent titles include Love Is All You Need, The Hunt and A Hijacking. Read More »
Eccho Rights has sold popular Turkish drama The End into further markets. It’s already being remade in the U.S. by Sander/Moses Prods at Fox, and now Germany’s UFA will develop a local version for broadcaster SAT1 while Shine France has also taken an option on the series. Further, Netflix has signed a non-exclusive agreement for the original in Sweden and the UK. The story is about a woman navigating a web of lies and intrigue as she searches for her husband whom she presumed dead following a plane crash. But it turns out he never boarded the plane. Produced by Ay Yapim in Turkey, the show is also getting a Russian version. Read More »