Top U.S. entertainment lawyer Stephen Saltzman is to extend his stay in London and will join as a partner in the media practice of European law firm Fieldfisher having spent recent years at Paul Hastings. From the London base, he expects to be particularly active in the German market. Saltzman’s speciality is innovative and complex international distribution, co-production, and co-financing transactions as well as cross-border transactions involving the creation, production, financing, and exploitation of content, and brand building. He recently advised Chinese studio Huayi Brothers International on its co-financing of $140 million “Moonfall,” the largest indie film to complete production in 2020, and advised esports team TSM in one of the largest sponsorship deals in the industry with the crypto currency exchange, FTX.
BROADCASTERS’ BOARDROOM BATTLE
Indian broadcast giant, Zee Entertainment Enterprises says it is suing its two biggest financial Invesco Developing Markets Fund and OFI Global China Fund IIC in the High Court. On Sept. 11, the funds, representing 18% of the shares, had called for an EGM to decide the removal of three Zee company directors, including ZEE CEO Punit Goenka. Days later, Zee announced a merger deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment India which gives Goenka a five-year contract to head the combined entity. The investors say that the companies broke the rules by ignoring their EGM requisition and won a ruling in their favor at a corporate tribunal. Zee’s directors said on Friday that the requisition is illegal. Now they want the court to agree.
CALL FOR CONCESSIONS
Cinema operators in Hong Kong are pleading with the government to allow them to resume sales of food and drinks. Box office receipts between mid-February and the end of August, 2021 are down by 47% compared to the same period in the pre-COVID 2019, said the Hong Kong Theatres Association. Since reopening, Hong Kong cinemas must apply limited seating capacity and are banned from selling refreshments, which account for 30% of cinemas’ income. Moreover, cinemas no longer receive rental concessions from landlords either, the association said. As nearly 90% of cinema employees have been vaccinated, the association said cinemas are safe. – By Vivienne Chow.
ViacomCBS Networks International has appointed Catherine Park as senior VP and head of office & streaming for Asia. With this change, Pierre Cheung, who was senior VP and GM for Asia, exits the organization. “We are rapidly expanding the global footprint of our leading FAST service, Pluto TV, and our premium products like Paramount+ and Nick Plus,” said Raffaele Annecchino, President and CEO VCNI. Park was most recently with Korea’s Coupang Corp. as head of content of its streaming service, Coupang Play. Previous roles saw her as Korea country manager for Discovery and Sony Pictures Television, and at CJ Entertainment.
SPORTS RIGHTS AFTER FOX
Singtel has picked up Formula One motor racing rights in Singapore for the remainder of the 2021 season and the full 2022 season. The rights across 26 territories had previously been held by pan-regional Fox Sports Asia which shut down with effect from Oct. 1 following a decision by owner Disney to cut its linear TV operations and to focus more instead on direct-to-consumer streaming businesses Disney Plus And Disney Plus Hotstar. The fallout has seen Singtel recently add Astro Sports and Eurosport channels and pick up rights to other individual sports, including non-exclusive right to Ultimate Fighting Championship. Korea’s Eclat Group is also reported to have picked up other ex-Fox rights and to have launched its own SPOTV pay-TV and digital offerings.
BRIGITTE BARDOT OBSESSION
North of Watford Films (“Away”) has boarded writer-director-actor Eva Lanska’s semi-biographical Brigitte Bardot project. Titled “Bardot,” it tells the story of a young actor who becomes infatuated with the French movie star at the peak of her career. “The film is multi-linear and moving,” said North of Watford’s Michael Knowles. “It is a study in strong women. We are excited to be working with Eva Lanka on this project.” “Bardot,” which represents Lanska’s feature directing debut, goes into production later this year. Casting has yet to be announced. – By KJ Yossman.
The coronavirus outbreak has caused KRW8.8 trillion ($7.4 billion) of damage to South Korea’s culture, sports and tourism sectors, the government said on Friday. Lost revenue totaled KRW26.9 trillion in 2020 and has reduced to KRW12.4 trillion in 2021. Content creation has been badly affected, with revenue decrease of KRW2.9 trillion over the 18 months since restrictions began. Within that total, film production saw a KRW2.4 trillion decrease. The government is planning to inject KRW2.9 trillion to keep the culture, sports and tourism sectors afloat.
Sony Group has announced that it has acquired Bluepoint Games, a company known for remaking classic PlayStation video games. Examples include hit success with “Demon’s Souls,” remade for the latest PS5 console and “Shadow of the Colossus” for PS4. The acquisition is expected to allow Bluepoint to expand and produce original games of its own. Deal terms were not disclosed by either company.
ASIAN WOMEN EMPOWERED
The Asia Society Southern California is launching Asian Women Empowered (AWE), a global network recognizing the world’s most influential Asian women. The initiative brings together talented Asian women who seek to inspire and invest in future generations. Its three focus points are mentorship, programming, and research. Variety is the media partner for the inaugural community-building kick-off event that will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at Tiato in Santa Monica, California. The event will pay tribute to House of An family and their trailblazing American success story, a tribute to Chen Chun-Yen for a career of service to the AAPI community, and a fireside chat with television personality Lisa Ling as the inaugural AWE Visionary.
“Spencer” producer Paul Webster will give the keynote interview at the Film London Production Finance Market, which takes place Oct. 12-13 as part of the 65th BFI London Film Festival Industry Program. Webster, whose accolades including Bafta and Golden Globe statuettes as well as an Academy Award nomination, has produced films including “Atonement,” “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love.” The Film London Production Finance Market has two strands: a new strand for projects with budgets below €1 million ($1.16) and a main strand for budgets above €1 million. – By KJ Yossman.