International Update

AUSTRALIA

Much delayed Olympia Dukakis-headliner “Round The Bend” (previously “Over The Hill”) gets underway Feb. 25. George Miller pic, from Glasshouse Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures, is being distribbed outside Oz by Rank.

Peter Weir and Gerard Depardieu in town to tubthump “Green Card,” currently top of the b.o. here. Mel Gibson also doing the rounds for “Hamlet.”

AGB Research Australia has managed to sign up the Seven and Nine webs for its five-city peoplemeter service, even though A.C. Nielsen is the official supplier and has contracts with the five major webs. It’s believed AGB’s price has been discounted to entice the webs to supplement the official figures while gaining access to additional market information from AGB. Initial contract is for a minimum of 12 months.

Debut of “The Simpsons” proved a boon for the troubled Ten net in the first week of this year’s ratings season. Bart and family pushed aside Nine’s longrunning winner, “60 Minutes,” with a ratings peak of 30 in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, and 26 in Melbourne; show performed well across all demographics, results indicate.

The Film Finance Corp. has entered into investment negotiations for “Strictly Ballroom,” a low-budget feature from producer Tristram Miall. Baz Luhrmann, who directed the stage version of the drama, will make his helming debut. Paul Mercurio is toplining, and indie Ronin Films is distribbing in Oz and N.Z. Shooting is to begin by May.

Entertainment attorney Martin Cooper has helped establish the Delta Management Group, a one-stop business management operation, including specific services for the entertainment industry. Cooper says it’s a new concept for Australia and doesn’t compete with existing agency arrangements or traditional legal and accounting services.

Annual national Video Retail Group Convention skedded for July 18 to 26 in LA.

The 15th Montreal World Film Festival will run Aug. 22 to Sept. 2 with a focus on Scandinavian cinema. A tribute to the 30-year-old Intl. Critics Week section of the Cannes Film Festival also is planned. Poster for the fest was designed by Federico Fellini.

CHILE

The recent 32nd Vina Del Mar Intl. Song Festival, a six-day event, had a strong Latin beat with the likes of Jose Luis Rodriguez, Myriam Hernandez and Juan Luis Guerra. About 75,000 people attended; boxoffice was about $500,000. A couple of two-hour programs will be transmitted by Univision.

The CCN chain’s two-screener Cine Florida was reclaimed for other purposes by its owner, Banco de Chile. At the end of this year, CCN also will lose its Huelen, traditional home of Disney fare, to Jose Daire’s Chile Films. It remains to be seen whether a reduced six-cinema circuit will be able to accommodate Warner and Disney product.

FRANCE

Panda Films, the Paris-based distriberry specializing in pics from China, has launched its own video label. First films up for sale include Huang Jianxin’s “The Black Cannon Incident” and Stanley Kwan’s “Rouge.”

Fabrice Luchini and Anne Brochet have received the Jean Gabin and Romy Schneider prizes for new talent. French journalists chose Luchini for his work in Christian Vincent’s debut pic “La Discrete.” Brochet portrayed Roxane in Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Yugoslav helmer Ivica Matic took top prize at the eighth Annonay Intl. Festival for First Films for his debut pic “Landscape With A Woman.” The jury’s special award went to German director Mathias Allary for “Frant.”

Two months behind schedule, kids’ network Canal J went on board France’s direct broadcast satellites TDF1-TDF2 last week. Web already has a solid cable base in France and is to go over the air in near future. Canal J is conducting signal tests while waiting for picture decoders and dishes to come on the market in about May.

Nikita Mikhailkov will preside over the jury at the Chamrousse Comedy Film Festival March 18 to 23. Fest organizers so far have penciled in six films for grand prize consideration: Michael Winner’s “Bullseye”; Rosa Verges’ “Boom Boom”; Vassilis Alexakis’ “The Athenians”; Milan Steindler’s “Ready For The Grave”; Laurent Benegui’s “Un Type Bien”; and Pascal Thomas’ “Pagaille.” Fest also will pay homage to Mikhailkov.

GERMANY

The Federation of German Exhibitors has bestowed its Golden Screen Award on Munich producer Dieter Geissler for “The Neverending Story II.” The award goes to films that attract 3 million visitors within 18 months. Warner Bros. Germany released the pic last Oct. 25.

U.S. features dominated distribution in western Germany in 1990, according to SPIO, the film industry’s representative organization. Of the 304 films released, 154 were American and 48 were German; 24 were from France and 21 were from Britain.

Hamburg’s cultural authority has raised subsidy support for cultural films from 6.3 million marks (nearly $4 million) last year to 9 million marks ($6 million) in 1991. Funds will be administered by the Hanseatic city state’s Film Buero, under new guidelines, including a revision of repayment terms.

The seventh No Budget Short Film Festival will be held in Hamburg from May 16 to 20. Competition pics and videos are limited to a running time of 15 minutes and a budget under 10,000 marks ($6,800).

Oliver Sacks, whose medical research was the basis for his own book and a film by Penny Marshall, both titled “Awakenings,” is doing press confabs for throughout Germany.

ITALY

Dino De Laurentiis is back in action at Pathe studios, formerly Dinocitta, now property of MGM. “Returning Napoleon,” a remake of 1960s De Laurentiis pic “Crimen,” is skedded to roll this month under Canadian helmer Eugene Levy.

The Italian Film Critics’ Union announced its nominations for this year’s Nastro D’Argento awards. Competing for best film honors are Gianni Amelio’s “Open Doors,” Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Sheltering Sky,” Marco Risi’s “Boys On The Outside,” Gabriele Salvatores’ “On Tour” and Vittorio and Paolo Taviani’s “Night Sun.” Winners will be announced in March.

The Intl. Film Week in Verona, April 11 to 17, will program about 30 films from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, or what used to be known as Mitteleuropa. Directors, actors, critics and experts will meet for roundtables to examine common cultural roots of the region’s cinema production.

NEW ZEALAND

Stephen Fulford, Stephen Papps, Paul Gittins, Ray Henwood, Alice Fraser and Gabrielle Hammond head the cast of “The End Of The Golden Weather,” which has begun an eight week shoot in Auckland. Pic is helmed by Ian Mune for South Pacific Pictures.

Brit Robert Powell is slated to join Kiwi thesp Kevin Wilson in war pic “Once On Chunuk Bair,” a Wellington-based telefeature produced by Avalon Television Center and Daybreak Pictures. Director is Dale Bradley.

Denis Harvey, a Television New Zealand sports producer, takes over as topper of the Film & Television Awards Society.

Cine 360, a branch of Film Line Group, has acquired Canadian theatrical rights to Gaylene Preston’s “Ruby And Rata.”

Jane Campion’s “An Angel At My Table” has grossed more than $A1.4 million in Oz, making it the most successful N.Z. theatrical release in that country.

NORWAY

The Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 Oslo Film Days screened such long-awaited releases as “Miller’s Crossing,” “Dances With Wolves,” “Avalon” and “Memphis Belle.” Special guest was David Puttnam.

SPAIN

Among celebs passing through Madrid were Yank helmer Sydney Pollack, with two bodyguards at his side, who fielded questions about “Havana,” which bowed Feb. 15. Also in town was French thesp Yves Montand, for a French film week.

A gentlemen’s agreement has been reached between Telecinco and the regional channels to split up a package of features from MGM/UA sold by Yoram Globus to the regionals, and then committed by Giancarlo Parretti to Telecinco, the Berlusconi channel in Spain. Tab for package is $110 million.

Francisco Gratacos of Luk Internacional has picked up 77 pics from the Samuel Goldwyn Co. for sale to Spanish tv.

Pilar Miro rolled one week of “Beltenebros” in England, with Terence Stamp topcast. Item, produced by Iberoamericana Films, is based on the novel by Antonio Munoz Molina and calls for two weeks of shooting in Poland and eight weeks in Madrid. Others in cast are Patsy Kensit, Geraldine James and Jose Luis Gomez. This is Miro’s first pic in five years.

Producer/director Juan Piquer has wrapped “Cthulhu Mansion” based on an H.P. Lovecraft yarn. Topcast are Frank Finlay, Marcia Layton and Melanie Shatner. Pic is co-prod between Filmagic (partnered are J.P. Simon and J.G. Maesso) and Folden Pictures. Sales will be handled by the Overseas Film Group of L.A.

Spanish private tv web Antena 3 reportedly ran some $55 million in the red in 1990. After a year on the air, web claims to have an audience share of 14%.

SWEDEN

Sydney Pollack flew himself to Stockholm to talk up the coming premiere of “Havana.” He also met with “Havana” star Lena Olin, who among other things guided him through the Stockholm zoo.

New Stockholm cinema Sibirien opened with speeches from actress Harriet Andersson and former Film Institute boss Harry Schein. Among the guests at the opening were film director Vilgot Sjoman and producer Anders Birkeland. Opening program was the German pic “The Nasty Girl,” imported by Triangel Film, and the Russian “Nasji-Kerib,” imported by PolFilm.

Pathe-Nordisk has made a deal with Finnish film company Finnkino to distribute 15 titles internationally. Among the films are “The Winter War,” “Plainlands,” “Banned From Heaven” and the tv special “Nikita – The Elements Of War.”

U.K.

The future of British & Commonwealth Merchant Bank, which has been in the hands of administrators since last June, remains in doubt, depite a £23 million ($45 million) offer from Turkish group Cukurova. Problem lies in persuading major depositors to leave their money in the bank once the deal goes through. If they fail to make a prior commitment to this effect, Cukurova could be forced to withdraw. As long as administrators are in charge, all deposits, more than £100 million ($196 million), are frozen. British & Commonwealth is a significant player in film finance.

Britain’s opposition Labor Party is to launch a review of policies to support “the whole of popular culture,” according to the party’s broadcasting spokesman, Robin Corbett. Labor hopes to present itself at the next election as a friend of the arts. Corbett says that, if elected, Labor would consider funding the BBC through direct taxation.

BBC Enterprises has postponed the launch of subscription tv service BBC Select by at least six months. Company blames the recession and retailer reluctance to stock the decoders needed to receive the service. Scheme involves up to 15 specialist services covering farming, medicine, law, education, leisure and ethnic community affairs. Subscribers would record overnight scrambled transmissions on tape for later viewing. Launch first was planned for August.

Further cuts in Brit broadcasting will see BBC Wales and HTV, regional commercial franchise holder for Wales and the west of England, shed over 500 jobs, most of them in Cardiff. BBC is implementing a wide ranging program of economies designed to save £75 million ($148 million) a year. Commercial nets like HTV are cutting back in preparation for the franchise auction that starts this week.

RCA/Columbia Home Video, which has been building a strong presence in the U.K. sell-through market, has signed a three-year distribution deal with specialist label Watershed Pictures. RCA/Columbia recently signed similar distribution deals with Castle-Target, Virgin Vision and Medusa.

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