Nation Woos Location Scouts
Aiming to simplify the permitting process for shoots, the government is setting up a website to create a one-stop shop, Information and Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma told a gathering at the India Pavilion in Cannes. Clearances will take six to eight weeks from the time of application. Currently, the process can take up to six months, with producers needing the OK from a host of separate authorities.
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Art Imitates Cricket
Two weeks after cricketer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was arrested on suspicion of fixing matches of the Indian Premier League’s Rajasthan Royals, filmmakers from his home state of Kerala have announced the movie “Cricket,” which just happens to recount the tale of a young Keralite cricketer who reaches dizzying heights of success and then falls prey to greed. Helmer Shaji Kailas (“Mafia”) and A.K. Sajan are scripting.
Chopsocky Test in Best
Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures will pit chopsocky star Donnie Yen (“Ip Man”) against Shaolin-trained Wang Baoqiang (“Lost in Thailand”) in Teddy Chen’s actioner “Last of the Best.” The $25 million project is set in Hong Kong and Foshan, and features Yen as an ex-martial arts instructor jailed for accidentally killing a man. Chen shares scripting credits with Lau Ho-leung and Mak Tin Shu. The pic is due to start filming at the end of May for a summer 2014 release.
Planeta Spins at Cannes
The Russian biz is booming, and its export drive moved up a gear at Cannes, steered by promotional org Roskino, led by Catherine Mtsitouridze. The effort was powered by Russia’s ministry of culture, with the support of Planeta Inform, which publishes Variety Russia. Roskino oversaw a flurry of announcements at the Russian Pavilion, including the opening pic of the Moscow Film Fest, “World War Z.” Studio Glavkino unveiled plans for an additional $100 million investment in its production facilities, as well as its first film projects, which include Yury Bykov’s “Aqua Vitae” and Pyotr Buslov’s “Flip Out.” At another Russian Pavilion presser, Hayden Christensen presented Russian-U.S.-Canadian co-production “American Heist,” produced by Enjoy Movies & Renovatio. Among Russian pics attracting buyer interest were two local B.O. hits, disaster movie “Metro” and hockey drama “The Legend 17,” as well as toonpic “Ot Vinta 3D.” Planeta Inform is handling global sales on these pics.
Aussies, Canucks Tie the Knot
Australia and Canada have signed an official co-production Memorandum of Understanding, opening up opportunities for filmmakers from both countries to work together and tap benefits from both. The Screen Producers Assn. of Australia and the Canadian Media Production Assn. congratulated their respective governments for encouraging economic and cultural exchanges. “There is a natural linguistic, cultural, production and regulatory affinity between our two countries,” said SPAA exec director Matthew Deaner.
Song Contest Creates Discord
There was little harmony among nations at the 58th “Eurovision Song Contest,” held in Malmo, Sweden. Russia’s foreign minister claimed the event, won by Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest, was rigged. Sergei Lavrov alleges points were stolen from Russia’s Dina Garipova, who finished fifth in the pan-Euro competish; Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev claims 10 points his country gave Garipova were not counted. “The outrageous action at ‘Eurovision’ will not go unanswered,” Lavrov warned. Meanwhile, Germany was upset at the poor finish of its entry, pop group Cascada, which placed 21st out of 26 countries. Commentators speculated that was due to the low popularity of German chancellor Angela Merkel, who imposed austerity measures on Greece and Spain. Some 125 million TV viewers watched the show.
Liberty Dangles Chellomedia
Chellomedia, the London-based European content division of John Malone’s international cabler Liberty Global, is on the block. Liberty Global is hoping the deal will raise between $800 million and $1 billion; it is in the process of acquiring U.K. cabler Virgin Media for $23 billion, and bought a 12.65% stake in Dutch cable company Ziggo for $808 million in March. Chellomedia owns 48 of its 68 channels; the remainder are joint ventures.
French, Italians Combo on Coin
France and Italy have established a €500,000 ($643,000) bilateral development and co-production fund for movies, with government funding coming equally from the two countries. The pact was inked at Cannes, where there were several Italo-Gallic co-productions unspooling, including helmer Paolo Sorrentino’s competition entry “The Great Beauty,” produced by Italy’s Indigo and Gaul’s Babe Films and France 2, among other French shingles.
Milchan’s Island Journey
Arnon Milchan is expected to be on hand to pick up the Legend Award at Italy’s Ischia Global Film and Music Festival, which runs July 13-21. The producer — whose credits include “Pretty Woman,” “Fight Club,” “L.A. Confidential” and the upcoming biblical epic “Noah” — will receive the award during a gala at the Villa Colombaia. The non-competitive fest, headed by TV journo Pascal Vicedomini, will feature the Italo debut of Fox’s Google-themed comedy “The Internship,” directed by Shawn Levy.
Mom Loves Local B.O. Champ
Helmer Ricardo Maldonado’s comedy “Asu mare!” has taken in $11.5 million at the local box office to sprint past the nation’s previous B.O. record-holder “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” which took $9.6 million in 2012. Distribbed by Jorge Licetti’s New Century Films, the pic stars popular stand-up comedian and thesp Carlos Alcantara, who relates his life through his mother’s point of view in a mix of stand-up routines and re-enactments. “Asu mare!” producer Miguel Valladares financed almost all the pic’s $800,000 budget through product placement.
Rio Races to Build Mega-Studio
Rio de Janeiro will build a $50 million film and TV studio, Rio Polo de Audiovisual, just a few minutes drive from Brazil’s 2016 Olympic Games stadium. Announced at Cannes, the Polo (literally, “hub”) will cover at least 300,000 square feet, including 14 soundstages as well as production facilities, post-production suites and o ces for Brazil’s booming film and TV production biz. The studio will be ready for the Olympics.
Ventana Sur Out for Blood
Ventana Sur, Latin America’s biggest film market, is adding genre mart Blood Window to its 5th edition, which unspools Dec. 3 to 6 in Buenos Aires. Genre production is growing across Latin America, with the work of local directors winding up on Hollywood screens, including Argentinean Andy Muschietti’s “Mama” and Uruguayan Fede Alvarez’s “Evil Dead.” Argentina alone has turned out 49 chillers since 2011, though many never saw commercial release.
MyTV Nabs More in Mideast
U.S. and Lebanon-based myTV, which distributes Internet-based Arabic-language TV channels and VOD content targeted to expats in North and South America and Australia, has inked two partnerships that will give Middle East helmers greater access to those markets. MyTV has pacted with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. and Egypt’s Misr Intl. Films, gaining access to films of the late Egyptian helmer Youssef Cahine , who founded Misr. MyTV was established in 2011 by Lebanese tech maven Spiro Azkoul.
Cinema City Flexes Plex Muscle
Israeli exhib Cinema City plans to open 34 multiplexes — approximately 365 screens — over the next three years, to add to its 99 plexes and 966 screens in seven countries across Central and Eastern Europe, where it is already the largest movie theater chain. The company reported theater operations in the first quarter generated revs of €63.9 million ($82.5 million), up 12% on last year. It’s also building a distribution biz, with revs up 18% to $7.4 million.
(Compiled by Bobbie Whiteman. Reported by Leo Barraclough, Cli ord Coonan, Anna Marie de la Fuente, John Hopewell, Naman Ramachandran, Nick Vivarelli.)