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Chinese Companies Turn to Resetting Relationship With Hollywood

33 minutes ago

Chinese companies talked about not wanting to be regarded as the latest in a series of foolish foreign investors in Hollywood. But it took the intervention of Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring to an end a 3½-year acquisition frenzy which saw Dalian Wanda and other players strike deals that raised eyebrows on both sides of the Pacific.

Last week’s official declaration by Beijing ruling out investments in overseas film, entertainment and sports properties marks a resetting of the relationship between Chinese and U.S. companies in those sectors, analysts say. Call it China-Hollywood 2.0.

“They mean business this time. This is not a policy that will change right after the [Communist] Party Congress this autumn,” Alex Wong, director of asset management at Ample Capital, told Radio Television Hong Kong.

The entertainment industries in both China and the U.S. must adjust to a new reality no longer based on acquisitions and asset values. Instead, »


- Patrick Frater

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AMC’s Shudder Takes U.S., U.K. Rights on Six FrightFest Titles

54 minutes ago

Six upcoming horror titles have been acquired for a mix of North American and U.K. rights by Shudder, the horror Svod service run by AMC Networks, it announced Monday. The acquisition comes ahead of the U.K.’s FrightFest horror festival, which runs Aug. 24-28, and will see all six features make their U.K. premieres.

The acquisition includes all rights in North America, U.K. and Ireland for surreal U.S. sci-fi romance “Sequence Break” (pictured), from director Graham Skipper, as well as Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s “Cold Hell.”

Shudder has taken streaming rights in North America and Canada to Chris Peckover’s Christmas-themed title “Better Watch Out,” starring Virginia Madsen, which Universal is scheduled to release theatrically in the U.K. Dec. 8.

The service has added all rights for U.K. and Ireland to the U.S. streaming rights it acquired during the Cannes Film Festival in May for Joe Lynch’s “Mayhem »


- Robert Mitchell

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Berlin Film Festival’s Wieland Speck Takes On New Role

1 hour ago

Wieland Speck is set to take on a new role as consultant on the official program for the Berlin Film Festival. Speck (pictured left) will move his focus to the festival’s main program having spent 25 years as head of its Panorama section.

Speck helped build Berlin’s autonomous Panorama program, joining Manfred Salzgeber in 1982 and introducing the Teddy Award in 1987 – the world’s first film prize for queer cinema. He took over as head of Panorama ten years later in 1992, curating more than 1800 feature, documentary and short films over his 25 years in charge.

“I want to thank Wieland from the bottom of my heart for the fantastic job he has done with Panorama,” said Dieter Kosslick, Berlin’s festival director. “He established a platform for ambitious independent cinema, and successfully positioned it on the international market. I’m especially pleased that he will now be assisting us with his expertise and experience, and »


- Robert Mitchell

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Haugesund: Sisters’ Tale ‘Miami’ Gets World Sales Deal with LevelK (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — Portraying “The Good Son” (“Hyvä poika”) in her 2011 feature, which won top prizes at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Mons International Festival of Love Films, adding a Jussi, Finland’s national film award, Finnish director Zaida Bergroth is now reuniting two sisters in her third feature, “Miami.”

It will have its international premiere in the New Nordic Films market at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, which runs Aug. 22-25.

Prior to the market, Danish international sales boutique LevelK. represented in Haugesund by executive coordinator Stine Bomholt, has picked up world sales rights for the crime drama, which was produced by Miia Haavisto for Helsinki-Filmi. It is backed by the Finnish Film Foundation, Finnish pubcaster Yle and Nordisk Film Finland. It was launched domestically on Aug. 4 by Nordisk.

Scripted by Bergroth and Jan Forsström, from an original idea by Kaarina Hazard and Leea Klemola, “Miami” is set in the world of night »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Haugesund: Joachim Trier on Toronto-Bound ‘Thelma,’ his 1980s’ Influences, the Threat to Filmmaking in Norway

4 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s new feature, ”Thelma,” which opened the 45th Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund on Sunday Aug. 20, will segue to the Toronto Festival as a Special Presentation, then to the New York Film Festival at the Lincoln Center, which runs Sept. 28-Oct. 15.

His previous film, the English-language ”Louder than Bombs,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert, was the first Norwegian contender for Cannes’ Palme d’Or in 36 years. It won eight festival awards and the prestigious Nordic Council Film Prize.

“During the last four years I have made two films back-to-back, so it has been a busy time,” Trier said.

One was shot in New York – ”Louder than Bombs” (2015) – and for the second he returned to Oslo and his mother tongue. Made on a Nok 48 million ($6 million) budget, ”Thelma” follows a shy student who has just left her small town religious family to study biology at the University of »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson Unveils Poster, Trailer for his Venice/Toronto-Bound ‘Under The Tree’ (Exclusive)

4 hours ago

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson, the Icelandic director of “Either Way” and “Paris of the North,” is unveiling the trailer and poster of his anticipated third feature “Under the Tree” which is set to play at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.

“Under the Tree” is produced by Iceland’s Netop Films, the company behind “Rams,” Poland’s Madants, Denmark’s Profile (which had also co-produced “Rams) and Berlin-based One Two Films.

A drama laced with dark humor, “Under the Tree” follows Atli, a young man who gets thrown out by his girlfriend who does not want him to see their daughter anymore. While fighting to obtain the right to see his daughter, Atli, has to deal with his parents’ s bitter dispute with their neighbors over a big and beautiful tree.

The script is written by Sigurdsson and Huldar Breidfjörd. The pair previously collaborated on “Paris of the North” which won a flurry of awards. Sigurdsson »


- Elsa Keslassy

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San Sebastián: France’s Wide Takes Gilles Coulier’s ‘Cargo’ (Exclusive)

4 hours ago

Barcelona — Paris-based sales-production house Wide has acquired international sales rights outside Benelux to Gilles Coulier’s family drama “Cargo” which plays September’s San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival,  competing in its New Directors sidebar.

The first feature from Coulier – a director of limited TV series “The Natives” whose short,  “Mont Blanc,” competed at Cannes – “Cargo” will also open Belgium’s Ostende Film Festival on Sept. 8.

Produced by Belgium’s De Wereldvrede in co-production with Holland’s Halal Pictures, France’s Chevaldeuxtrois and Belgian public TV station Een, with the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (Vaf), “Cargo”s’ screenplay was penned by Coulier and Tom Dupont who co-wrote Peter Monsaert’s “Offline,” a 2016 New Directors contender at San Sebastian.

Cargo” turns on Jean, the eldest son of a North Sea fisherma, who  suffering a severe accident – leaving Jean to take charge of the loss-making family fishing business, which brings him into bitter conflict with his brothers.

“Growing »


- Emilio Mayorga

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Chilean Creator of ‘Besieged,’ Nicolas Acuña, to Helm Dynamo-Red Arrow Series (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

“Besieged” (“Sitiados”) creator Nicolas Acuña of prominent Chilean production house Promocine is attached to direct a series being developed by Colombia’s Dynamo (“Narcos”) in partnership with Munich-based TV distributor, Red Arrow.

Tentatively titled “Coke Way,” the series is set against the cold war of the ‘50s and ‘60s in Chile and the rise of the cocaine biz in Latin America. Chilean scribes Matias Ovalle and Jonathan Cuchacovich have penned the pilot script, said Dynamo’s Diego Ramirez.

“We are closing with an Ott that has expressed interest in the project for Latin America,” he said.  “It’s more of a prequel to ‘Narcos,’” he noted.

With Netflix quite entrenched in the international TV arena, Amazon venturing into overseas production and now Apple TV, which just announced a $1 billion budget for TV content, the market has indeed grown more exciting, said Ramirez. “For us independent producers, these are interesting times as it leads to more production of »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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San Sebastian: Film Factory Boards Fernando Franco’s ‘Dying’ (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

Madrid — Pouncing on the second feature by one of Spain’s preeminent on-the-rise, Vicente Canales’ Barcelona-based Film Factory Entertainment has acquired international sales rights to Fernando Franco’s character-driven romantic drama “Morir” (Dying), which plays as a Special Screening at September’s San Sebastian Festival.

Morir” marks Franco’s follow-up to “La Herida” (“The Wound”) which proved one of the biggest prize-winners at the 2013’s San Sebastian, snagging a Special Jury prize and best actress for Marian Alvarez, earning Goyas for actress and best new director at the 2014 Spanish Academy Awards.

Suggesting a talent for psychological insight, “Herida” focused intensely on a young woman with borderline personality disorder. The subject of “Dying” is equally forbidding: the fear of death and how its warps a couple’s relationship, inspired by what Film Factory describes as a “sorrowful, desperate” story of the same title by Arthur Schnitzler.

Written by Franco and Coral Cruz, In the film, »


- John Hopewell

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Korea Box Office: ‘Taxi Driver’ Sells 10 Million Tickets For Third Weekend Win

5 hours ago

“A Taxi Driver” remained on top of the South Korean box office for the third consecutive weekend. The Showbox release earned $6.9 million from 950,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday for a total of $71.8 million.

With 10.35 million admissions, it is the first film to pass the 10 million ticket sales mark this year. It is also only the 15th in Korean history.

A Lotte Entertainment release, “Midnight Runners” remained in second place. The police action drama earned $6.11 million between Friday and Sunday and extended its total to $27.1 million after two weekends.

Opening on Tuesday (Aug. 12), “War for the Planet of the Apes” landed in third. The Fox release earned $11. 2 million over opening six days.

Next Entertainment World’s Korean horror, “The Mimic” opened on Thursday and earned $4.55 million over four days. Incurring a week-on-week drop of 66%, “Annabelle: Creation” took fifth place. The Warner Bros. release earned $1.84 million between for a total of $12.35 million after two weekends. In sixth, »


- Sonia Kil

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Nepal Picks ‘White Sun’ as Oscars Contender

5 hours ago

Nepal’s Oscar selection committee has unanimously chosen Deepak Rauniyar’s multi award-winning “White Sun” (“Seto Surya”) as the country’s entry in the foreign language category.

A portrait of post-civil war Nepal during the fragile deadlocked peace process, the film has had considerable festival play. It debutes in Venice’s Horizons strand and went to Toronto, Busan, Singapore, Dubai, Palm Springs, Rotterdam, Goteborg, Hong Kong, Sydney, Edinburgh and Karlovy Vary.

En route, the film picked up awards including the Interfilm Award at Venice, the Silver Screen Award for best Asian feature film at Singapore, the New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prize at Palm Springs, and the audience award, Don Quixote award and Ecumenical jury award at Fribourg.

The film stars Dayahang Rai, Asha Maya Magrati and Rabindra Singh Baniya and is a Nepal/U.S./Netherlands/Qatar co-production. Producers include Joslyn Barnes (“Cameraperson”) and Michel Merkt (“Toni Erdmann”), while Danny Glover is an executive producer »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Steve Wozniak to Speak at Tokyo Comic-Con in December

6 hours ago

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Comic-con in Japan last year, is scheduled to speak at the second Tokyo Comic Convention in December.

Last year’s event drew more than 35,000 people. Organizers expect a bigger turnout this year.

Wozniak teamed up with Stan Lee to start up Comic-Con in Japan, in order to help the festival go global. Lee attended last year’s Tokyo conference, along with Jeremy Renner (”Avengers”), Billy Boyd (“Lord of the Rings”), Matthew Lewis (“Harry Potter”), Lance Henriksen (“Aliens”), and Daniel Logan (“Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”).

This year’s event is expected to feature state-of-the-art gaming experiences and screenings. It will be held at the Makuhari Messe convention center from Dec. 1 to 3.

Related storiesSeth Rogen On Building a Sketch of Steve Wozniak in 'Steve Jobs'Steve Wozniak on 'Steve Jobs' Trailer: 'I Felt a Lot of the Real Jobs'Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak »


- Variety Japan

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Haugesund: ‘Small Time Killers’ Bows on AMC’s Shudder and Haugesund (Exclusive)

10 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — The Danish film “Small Time Killers,” directed by Ole Bornedal (“The Nightwatch”, “The Possession”), has been sold by TrustNordisk to more than 45 territories including AMC’s Network’s Shudder for North America and the U.K./Ireland.

The U.S. network’s horror-thriller centric Svod service just launched the black comedy on Aug. 17 as a Shudder Exclusive.

Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Nicolas Bro, Lene Maria Christensen and Mia Lyhne, the films turns of two tradesmen who dream of living the good life using the stash of money they have earned from years of moonlighting.

After a fight with their wives, the men hire a Russian contract killer to carry out a hit on their spouses. But, having underestimated their wives, their scheme turns into an absurd journey where Ib and Edward end up at the top of a kill list.

Produced by Miso Film, “Small Time Killers” has been the second biggest local hit of 2017 in »


- Annika Pham

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Oliver Stone to Head Jury at Busan International Film Festival

12 hours ago

Oliver Stone, the ever-controversial American-French director, has been named president of the competition jury for the upcoming Busan International Film Festival, itself no stranger to controversy.

Stone heads an impressive panel including Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi (“A Time for Drunken Horses”), French cinematographer Agnes Godard (“The Dreamlife of Angels”), Philippines director Lav Diaz (“From What Is Before,” “The Woman Who Left”), and South Korean director Jang Sun-woo (“Lies”). They will judge a selection of Asian films in the New Currents section that represents the festival’s cornerstone.

Stone, who has credits including “Wall Street,” “JFK” and “Snowden,” has often criticized governments, greed, collusion and corruption. That matches the Busan festival’s stance.

The festival is still in turmoil nearly three years after it stood up to political interference from city authorities who acted as proxies for a nationalist and now disgraced right-wing South Korean government. The aftermath of the festival’s decision to screen a controversial documentary »


- Patrick Frater

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China Box Office: ‘Wolf Warriors II’ Continues Record Run, Extends Total to $769 Million

15 hours ago

Wolf Warriors II” narrowly won its fourth weekend at the Chinese box office ahead of a pack of new releases. It extended its record haul in China to $769 million after 25 days.

Data from local provider Ent Group show that “Wolf Warriors II” briefly lost its top box-office spot last Friday to “Paradox.” But on Saturday and and Sunday, the patriotic action sensation reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. Both films enjoyed about 70,000 screenings per day.

Every ticket sold pushes “Wolf Warriors II” further into the lead as the all-time biggest movie ever released in China. Its total is now 50% bigger than previous claimant “The Mermaid.”

This was also another weekend in which the top Chinese film outpaced the top film at the North American box office. Stateside winner “Hitman’s Bodyguard” earned $21.6 million.

Hong Kong-made crime actioner “Paradox,” which opened the Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival, was released last Thursday and scored $31.4 million over the weekend. It »


- Patrick Frater

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