International news briefs: Industry highlights from around the world
“Django” Eventually Unchained
Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” returned to Chinese multiplexes May 12 after being suddenly removed, in some cases midscreening, a month ago. The pic has been stripped of three minutes of nude scenes, but the movie’s China B.O. will suffer less from the cuts than it will from competition from actioners “Iron Man 3” and “Oblivion,” which are both still playing in the territory.
The nation’s distribs and exhibs have taken a page out of China’s protectionist playbook, aiming to shield the struggling local industry from foreign pics by blocking wildly popular Bollywood films during the Aug. 8 Eid holiday frame. Four Pakistani films are due for release in the period, including Bilal Lashari’s action pic “Waar,” with a budget of 170 million Pakistan rupees ($1.7 million) the most expensive local film ever made. The decision is unlikely to please Pakistani auds. Eid is also a holiday in India, and big-budget pics “Chennai Express,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, and “Once Upon a Time in Mumbai 2,” starring Akshay Kumar — both enormously popular in Pakistan — were due for release. No homegrown films opened in 2012, and only four in 2011. This year sees a revival with 21 local pics due to unspool.
Digital Commerce Climbing
India’s digital commerce market, valued at 473.5 billion rupees ($8.7 billion) in December, is set to grow 33% to $11.6 billion by the end of 2013, according to a report from the Internet and Mobile Assn. of India and research firm IMRB Intl. Still, online entertainment ticketing accounts for less than 2% of the pie.
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Auds Awash in Online Vids
Indian online video consumption has doubled in the past two years to 3.7 billion videos per month, according to the latest ComScore Video Metrix report. Some 54 million viewers watch 431.5 minutes every month. Google sites, driven by YouTube.com, led the surge in March, with 31.5 million unique viewers, followed by Facebook with 18.6 million and Yahoo with 8.2 million.
Nobles Collects Record Coin
Auds continue to flock to “We the Nobles” (Nosotros los Nobles) from first-time helmer Gary “Gaz” Alazraki. The laffer, about a wealthy man trying to get his slacker kids to work, reached $22.3 million at the domestic box office May 14 after seven weeks in theaters, and has remained among the top three films over the past five weekends, beating “Iron Man 3,” “Oblivion” and “The Croods.” The pic, produced by former WB exec Leonardo Zimbron, shot past Mexico’s previous top grosser, 2002’s “The Crime of Father Amaro” ($16.3 million), in five weekends. WB has distribution rights for Mexico and for TV in Latin America. Sales agent Film Sharks expects to close more deals at Cannes.
Pele Gets World Cup Assist
Helmers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s biopic “Pele,” about the Brazilian soccer icon, is being positioned at the Cannes Market as an event film by Exclusive Media, with a release to coincide with the 2014 soccer World Cup tournament, which will be hosted by Brazil. Co-produced by Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures, the feature charts the rise of 9-year-old shoeshine boy Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele, to the 17-year-old who scored two goals in Brazil’s 1958 World Cup win against Sweden.
A team of French directors led by Bertrand Tavernier will head to Dublin for the annual John Ford Ireland Film Symposium & Festival — celebrating the work of the Irish-American helmer, born John Martin O’Feeney — to discuss his influence on Gallic cinema. Tavernier lists “Fort Apache” (1948) as a major influences on his work. Fest runs June 6 to 9.
Happy, Osborne Is
British Chancellor George Osborne, who has been fending off criticism of his economic policy, broke off from a G7 meeting recently to welcome the news that Lucasfilm is basing production on J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode VII” in the U.K. Tweeted Osborne: “Great news for our creative industries. May the Force be with us.” Osborne met Lucasfilm execs this year to tubthump U.K. tax incentives.
World Laughs at Brits
U.K. skeins took five of the six nominations in the two comedy categories at the Rose d’Or TV competition, open to entertainment shows from around the world. Among nominees was BBC political satire “The Thick of It,” helmed and co-written by Armando Iannucci, creator of HBO’s “Veep.” British programs led in the four other categories, too, taking 10 noms out of a total 18. After 51 years in Switzerland, the show is being moving to Brussels by its new owners, pubcaster org the European Broadcasting Union, where it will coincide with its Eurovision Media Summit. The kudocast, which takes place May 30, received a record 300 submissions from more than 30 countries.
Gallic Tax Attack
Targeting content on Google, Apple and Amazon, the French government has proposed a 1% tax on smartphones and tablets to fund Gallic digital cultural content, including music and videos. The tax, suggested by President Francois Hollande, would reportedly raise about €86 million ($110.7 million) per year. The proposal stems from industry input collected by former Canal Plus boss Pierre Lescure, and will be examined by lawmakers in coming weeks.
Auds Eat Up Food Shows
With no end to the financial crisis in sight, Spain’s once avid restaurantgoers are watching culinary reality shows on TV rather than going out to eat, boosting ratings for “MasterChef.” The show devoured a 15.6 share for pubcaster RTVE La Uno in its slot, well above Uno’s 10.3 average. “MasterChef” follows the success of “Pesadilla en la cocina,” a makeover of Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” one of Spain’s biggest fall TV hits, which carved out a first-season 12.6 share on La Sexta.
Venice Makes Final Cut
African filmmakers have gained a new source of coin thanks to the Venice Film Festival’s Final Cut in Venice workshop, dedicated to supporting pics from Africa that are in post-production. Final Cut will aid four works in progress, screening them to producers, buyers, distributors and international festival programmers, with an eye to co-production partnerships or distribution deals. The initiative will also award cash prizes.
Doha Reaches Out
After recently severing ties with Tribeca, the Doha Film Institute has sent a strong signal that it intends to remain closely connected with the international film community by expanding its grants to include first- and second-time filmmakers from outside the Middle East. “The program marks our commitment to developing a new talent pool of international filmmakers, regardless of location, and to creating a portfolio of global films,” said Doha CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater, adding that the institute’s aim is to further establish Qatar as a worldwide filmmaking hub.
(Compiled by Bobbie Whiteman. Reported by Leo Barraclough, Clifford Coonan, John Hopewell, Naman Ramachandran, Nick Vivarelli, James Young.)