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Global Showbiz Briefs: New Screen Australia CEO; No ‘Despicable Me 2′ In China; Homicide Trial For Salman Khan; More

Graeme Mason Tapped As Screen Australia CEO
National film body Screen Australia has named Graeme Mason as its new CEO. Mason has over 20 years of international experience in film, television and multimedia. He was formerly the CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission and was selected from a field of over 250 international candidates. He begins his tenure in November as former CEO Ruth Harley’s five-year term comes to an end.

Despicable Me 2 Release Barred By Chinese Government
Universal’s Despicable Me 2 has been denied release in China. The film, which has made $592M, will not be seeing the inside the country’s theaters. However, it’s worth noting that the original Despicable Me was not released in China either. There’s a feeling that China is wary of Hollywood animation taking too big a chunk out of the local box office; in June, DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods was pulled from release two weeks ahead of its scheduled stop date. Universal has also had four other films approved for release in the territory this year. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: India’s ‘24’, ITV Shifts Mike Blair, iTunes Prices In Oz, Plus JFK & Afghan Docs

Clock To Start Ticking For Indian ’24′
Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor is getting to work on the Indian version of the TV series 24. The actor, who was featured in the final season of Fox/20th TV’s real-time drama, will produce via his Anil Kapoor Film Co. He’ll also play the Jack Bauer character, now reportedly named Jai Singh Rathod, in the local take. According to BollywoodLife, production was due to kick off this week at Kapoor’s Stage 21 studio near Mumbai. Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo is helming the series and Rensil D’Silva, who’s directing Sanjay Dutt’s Ungli, is scripting. The local broadcast partner is Viacom-owned Colors. Kapoor will next be seen on the big screen in Shootout At Wadala directed by Sanjay Gupta.
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Screen Australia Backs Film, TV Projects Budgeted At $64 Million

By | Sunday December 16, 2012 @ 7:06pm PST

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

New films from Red Dog director Kriv Stenders, Samson & Delilah helmer Warwick Thornton and first-time feature directors Wayne Hope and Kasimir Burgess are among 11 film and TV projects that secured funding Monday local time from Screen Australia. The agency is investing more than $A11.4 million ($12 million) in five features, five adult TV drama series and one children’s series, with combined budgets of more than $64 million. Stenders will direct Kill Me Three Times, a black comedic thriller set in an Australian coastal town written by James McFarland, starring Abbie Cornish, Alice Braga and Sullivan Stapleton; WME and Cargo Entertainment are handling international sales and Hopscotch eOne is the Australian distributor. Thornton’s The Darkside is a collection of ghost tales related by actors including The Sapphires’ Deborah Mailman and Sheri Sebbens, Bryan Brown, Brendan Cowell and Sacha Horler, which will give an indigenous perspective on the afterlife; Transmission will release locally. An experienced TV director, Hope will tackle Now Add Honey, a comedy about a suburban family whose life implodes when their pop star cousin comes to stay, written by his wife Robyn Butler; Lightning Entertainment has foreign and Roadshow will distribute in Australia. Burgess, whose short “Lily” won the 2011 Berlinale Crystal Bear, will make Fell, a fable of revenge, redemption and renewal scripted by Natasha Pincus; Maze Film Sales/The Yellow Affair are handling foreign sales and Footprint is the Oz distributor.
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Global Showbiz Briefs: China Rebates, Bona Film, Screen Australia Docs & More

By | Thursday November 29, 2012 @ 9:59pm PST

China Theaters Offered Rebates To Boost Local Film Market Share
Worried about competition from U.S. and other foreign titles, China’s movie industry regulators have created financial incentives for any theater chain that takes in at least 50% of its annual box-office revenue from Chinese films. Tian Jin, deputy director of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, complained recently that the market share of Chinese films in China had dropped to 41.4%. The incentive will be in the form of a rebate of the fees — 5% of all ticket sales — that theater owners pay to the National Film Development Funds Management Committee. If half of a theater owner’s revenue comes from domestic films, the entire fee is refunded. If 45% of sales come from Chinese films, 80% of the fee is returned. If the percentage falls below 45% but exceeds the domestic market share in the previous year, the rebate is 50% of the fee. Read More »

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Oz Producers Prep Dueling Biopics About Late INXS Frontman Michael Hutchence

By | Friday November 23, 2012 @ 5:50am PST

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

Several producers have tried in vain to mount a biopic of INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence since he died in a Sydney hotel room in 1997. Now, two new projects are gearing up. Producers Trevor Ray Field and Suzy Markovski, and screenwriter/executive producer Robert Lewis Galinsky are prepping Two Worlds Colliding, based on the book Just A Man – The Real Michael Hutchence by the singer’s sister Tina and his mother, Patricia Glassop. Field has acquired the film rights to the book and Galinsky tells Deadline the project will go out to potential cast and directors in early 2013. He says the film will not be an exploitative “tell-all” and is confident he’ll get the support of the current members of INXS and its management. Finance, says Galinsky, is being sourced from investors he’s dealt with before. Meanwhile, Screen Australia is funding the development of another Hutchence project, Michael, with producer Sue Murray and director Richard Lowenstein, Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: BBC, BAFTA Honors, Stockholm Festival, Screen Australia

By | Monday November 19, 2012 @ 10:01pm PST

Outsider Expected To Replace George Entwistle At BBC
Speculation about who will replace George Entwistle as director general of the BBC is growing in the UK. BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has promised the selection won’t be as drawn out as it was when it came to naming Entwistle in the first place. While some editorials have suggested the likes of BBC head of news Helen Boaden, who is on sabbatical owing to her own involvement in the corporation’s Jimmy Savile scandal, The Guardian suggests that Patten will favor outside contenders, even if the ongoing crisis might make the job look a little unattractive. Entwistle’s shock resignation after just 54 days as director general came earlier this month, as the BBC’s current affairs program Newsnight became embroiled in a second child sex scandal after the Savile affair, when it made false allegations against former Margaret Thatcher adviser Lord McAlpine. He got £185k worth of damages from the corporation last week. The Telegraph now reports he is planning a £500k a suit against rival broadcaster ITV for revealing his identity in an interview with prime minister David Cameron. – Joe Utichi Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: More BBC Fallout, Quickflix Trading Halt, Lachlan Murdoch On Ten, Screen Australia Funds New Pics

By | Monday November 12, 2012 @ 10:35pm PST

BBC Probe: “Unacceptable” Journalistic/Management Failures
More senior BBC staff could leave the corporation as an internal report into the Newsnight fiasco that cost former director general George Entwistle his post draws damning conclusions. The investigation by BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie concluded that “unacceptable” journalistic and management failures caused the broadcast of false claims against a senior political figure. Newsnight aired the allegations of child sexual abuse in its November 2 program, but didn’t name the man, later revealed to be Lord McAlpine. As a result, it didn’t offer the retired adviser to Margaret Thatcher a right of reply as BBC editorial guidelines mandated, and it was subsequently revealed that the victim had mistaken the identity of his attacker. “Basic editorial checks were not completed,” the report said. Read More »

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Australian Offshore Production Slumps As Drama Production Peaks

By | Thursday November 1, 2012 @ 7:14pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

The soaring Oz dollar has all but wiped out Australia as a runaway production location, with no U.S. films and only one U.S. TV project, Sony Pictures Television’s drama pilot Frontier, shooting Down Under in 2011-2012. Foreign productions spent just $A49M ($50.9M) in that period, down from $86M the prior year which was boosted by Fox’s series Terra Nova, according to Screen Australia’s annual drama report released today. The report will intensify industry calls for the Australian government to lift the 16.5% location rebate to 30%. The government says it will announce its decision later this year. On the upside, the total spend on film and TV drama jumped by 25% to a record $623M. And last year’s hike of the post, digital and visual effects rebate from 16.5% to 30% resulted in the highest activity in that area for five years, with post houses attracting 17 films including Ted, The Hunger Games and Marvel’s The Avengers. Some 47% of total drama spend went on 28 Australian feature films including Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (which qualifies as an Australian production) and I, Frankenstein, plus three small foreign features. Read More »

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Screen Australia Backs Ethan Hawke ‘Predestination’, 2 Other Projects

By | Wednesday September 5, 2012 @ 9:02pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.

Funding agency Screen Australia announced today it’s investing $A5.5 million ($5.6 million) in three features with a total budget of more than $17 million: Michael and Peter Spierig’s Predestination, Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek 2 and Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country. In Predestination, Ethan Hawke plays a time-travelling government agent who recruits his younger self to pursue a particularly elusive criminal. Produced by Paddy McDonald and Tim McGahan, it’s based on a short story by Robert A. Heinlein. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired domestic and some international rights to the action thriller in Cannes. Arclight Films is representing Predestination; Pinnacle will release in Australia. John Jarratt will reprise his role as a serial killer in the Wolf Creek sequel, which was due to shoot in February year but stalled when a private investor withdrew. In the screenplay by McLean and Aaron Sterns, another unwitting backpacker is the prey of the crazed pig-shooter. Charlie’s Country will star David Gulpilil as a man who struggles to understand how he should define himself as an Aboriginal in modern Australia. Fandango Portobello has foreign and Hopscotch will release in Oz.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Screen Australia Vs. Murdoch, Cambodian Oscar Entry

By | Wednesday August 29, 2012 @ 10:08pm PDT

Taxpayer-Funded Screen Australia Backs Anti-Murdoch Project
Rupert Murdoch seems unlikely to be bothered that unabashed left-wing writer Bob Ellis is co-writing a movie about the publisher entitled The News of the World. Murdoch might, however, ask why Australian taxpayers’ money is being spent to develop the project. Funding agency Screen Australia is giving money to Ellis and his co-writer Stephen Ramsey to support development. No Australian distributor is involved yet. Ellis told Mumbrella the biopic will trace Murdoch’s career from his purchase of the Sydney Daily Telegraph in the 1960s to his buying the now-defunct The News of the World and becoming a U.S. citizen so News Corp could own U.S. TV stations. Ellis’ blog regularly accuses Murdoch of using his media outlets to champion his causes. After penning the screenplay of Newsfront in 1978, Ellis had a burgeoning career in the 1980s with films such as Fatty FinnCactusMan of Flowers and Goodbye Paradise. But his last produced feature screenplay was Ebbtide in 1994, according to IMDb.com. Deadline previously reported that David Williamson is writing a stage play based on Murdoch entitled Rupert for the Melbourne Theater Co. which is due to open next August. – Don Groves

Cambodia Submits First Oscar Entry In 18 Years
The country’s Oscar selection committee voted unanimously to submit Chhay Bora’s historic drama Lost Loves. The movie chronicles the experiences of a middle-class woman during Pol Pot’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Bora and his wife Kauv Sotheary, both university professors, used 15 years of personal savings to finance the film, according to Screen Daily. Bora directed and produced while his wife plays the leading role. Rithy Panh’s 1994 The Rice People was the only other Cambodian film submitted for Oscar consideration.
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Screen Australia Backs 4 Films, 8 TV Projects

By | Wednesday July 25, 2012 @ 9:37pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

Hugo Weaving and Don Hany will star in Healing, an Australian drama about a sympathetic prison warden and his efforts to rehabilitate an Iranian-born prisoner, one of four features agency Screen Australia agreed to co-finance at its board meeting today. The other films that secured Screen Australia investment are Aim High in Creation, a hybrid documentary-drama celebrating “the cinematic genius” of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, from writer/director Anna Broinowski and producer Lizzette Atkins; and the previously announced The Rover, a futuristic Western from Animal Kingdom writer/director David Michôd, starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce; and Felony, which will star Joel Edgerton as a decorated cop who knocks down a young cyclist while driving home after celebrating a drug bust, scripted by Edgerton and directed by Mathew Saville.
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