DAVID TWOHY DIRECT ICE MOON RISING
David Twohy, who directed Riddick & scripted The Fugitive, is to write & direct Ice Moon Rising, a major sci – fi movie that is set to be a US & China co -production. The film which could have a budget in the region of $50 million is being produced by Das Films’ Sriram Das and by experienced Greater China producer Steve Chicorel. The pair are also in advanced preparations for another China – US venture Money Plane, with David Hackl to direct. Ice Moon Rising is set in space when a Chinese & an American task force venture to Jupiter’s moon Europa to awaken an astronaut from a cryogenic stasis, some 24 years after he was attacked by alien creatures in Europa’s sub -glacial seas. Awake, he then has to be reunited with his wife & a daughter he has never met. Das, who recently produced November Man & India – set Heartbeats, is currently evaluating finance & casting options in China.
ASIA EXPANDS DOMINATION OF GLOBAL BOX OFFICE
Asia’s domination of the Global Box Office Turnstiles became stronger in 2015, according to the Motion Picture Association of America’s annual survey of the world’s theatrical business. With gross theatrical revenues of $14.1 billion in 2015, the Asia -Pacific region is now the largest single component of the Global Box Office. It far outstrips Europe, the Middle East & North Africa on $9.7 billion. Asia overtook North America for the 1st time in 2013 and has pulled away ever since. In 2015 North American grosses were up 8% at $11.1 billion. That makes Asia 27% bigger than US & Canada. And Asia also accounted for 37% of the $38.3 billion Global Theatrical Box Office that the MPAA reported for 2015. Both Asia & Latin America displayed 13% annual growth in 2015, but the much smaller base for Latin America, means that performance in Asia will still weigh more heavily on the global totals, as will its inevitable, eventual deceleration. Between 2014 & 2015, Latin American Box Office grew from $3.0 billion to $3.4 billion, a gain of $400 million. Box office in Asia grew from $12.4 billion in 2014, an increase of $1.7 billion. That contrasts with the slow pace of theatrical growth in North America (up 15% since the $9.6 billion score recorded by the MPAA in 2008) and the negligible, sideways performance of Europe.
ITV RECOMMISSIONS THE DURRELLS
UK commercial broadcaster ITV has commissioned a 2nd season of its hit family drama The Durrells after airing just 2 episodes of the 1st run. The series, produced by Sid Gentle Films, is ITV’s best – rating new drama of the year and its highest – rating new show since Sept, 2014. The 1st episode launched on ITV with 6.4 million and a 29% share, the channel’s best new drama since Cilla in Sept, 2014. The 1st episode has since consolidated to 8.2 million and a 33% share, making it the most watched ITV drama of this year. The Durrells, Simon Nye’s adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s trilogy of memoirs, tell the story of Louisa Durrell who makes a radical change and uproots her 4 unruly children, Larry, Leslie, Margo & Gerry, from Bournemouth, England to start a new life in Corfu in the 1930’s.
Keeley Hawes will return as matriarch Louisa alongside her fictional brood played by Josh O’Connor (Larry), Callum Woodhouse (Leslie), Daisy Waterstone (Margo) and Milo Parker (Gerry).
GOVERNMENT MULLS MOVE TO FORCE BBC TO SELL UKTV STAKE
The UK Government is all set to force state owned broadcaster BBC to sell its 50% stake in television network UKTV, according to Government sources. UKTV, which comprises 10 channels including Dave, Gold, Alibi & Really, is a joint venture between BBC’s commercial division, BBC Worldwide & US Company Scripps Networks Interactive. UKTV’s most recent financial results showed a 13% rise in revenue to £319 million ($452 million) and operating profits of £79.6 million ($113 million), which is 20% up over 2 years. Last year, Scripps was reported to have offered to buy BBC’s stake for £500 million ($710 million). The revelation, 1st reported in Sunday Times, comes as UK minister of culture John Whittingdale considers proposals for revising the rules governing how BBC operates, known as Royal Charter. He is expected to publish his proposals in a “White Paper” next month.
SKY SIGNS 1ST PAN – EUROPEAN MOVIE DEAL
Pay TV operator Sky has signed its 1st Pan -European movie deal. The exclusive pact with Sony Pictures covers the countries in which Sky operates, which are UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria & Italy. Sky has already struck Pan – European deals for TV series with HBO & Showtime, but this is its 1st pact with a Hollywood studio for movies. Sky’s movie deals in the past have been made on a country – by – country basis. The Sony Pictures agreement, which covers Sky’s subscription & transactional movie services, allows it to deliver new movies to its 21 million customers more than a year ahead of any other subscription service and only a few months after they have been released in movie theaters. The package comprises all new & future Sony releases, including Ghostbusters, Angry Birds, Money Monster & Inferno & also includes library titles such as Lawrence Of Arabia, Philadelphia & Close Encounters Of The Third Kind & franchises such as Men In Black & The Karate Kid. Following its £6.9 billion ($9.77 billion) acquisition of Sky Deutschland & Sky Italia 2 years ago the Company has been seeking to negotiate deals with content suppliers for all its territories.
VIACOM TO LAUNCH COMEDY CENTRAL
Viacom International Media Networks is launching Comedy Central in Middle East & Africa on the region’s leading pay – TV player OSN, 2 years after 2 companies forged an alliance that marked a significant strategic move for Viacom in an area where it has considerable room for growth. Comedy Central HD will be the 3rd brand for VIMN in the region, complementing the existing presence of MTV & Nickelodeon – Nick Jr. The channel’s offerings will include The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, which Noah will make the trek to launch in Dubai. Comedy Central favourites Tosh.0 & Inside Amy Schumer and a dedicated block of Spike content comprising Lip Sync Battle, as well as Catch A Contractor, the non -scripted series that sees host Adam Carolla on a mission to track down shady contractors and drag them back to the scene of their crimes. Internationally produced shows will include sitcom I Live with Models. All content, including animation, will be subtitled in Arabic. It will launch on 7th May, 2016 across the MENA region where there is a robust growth rate in pay -TV penetration expected to reach 19% of the population by 2019.
ELIE SAAB PARTNERS WITH MBC
Lebanese fashion designer
Elie Saab has partnered with top Arab free – to – air satcaster MBC Group to produce Project Runway Middle East which will air across more than 20 Arabic territories later this year. Saab, long known as the leading haute couturier in the Middle East and more recently as chief of a global fashion empire, will preside the reality show’s jury providing his expertise to aspiring designers from the region where fashion styles of the Western world have been known to clash with local mores. This aspect will be interesting to watch. In 2002 Saab became the 1st designer from the Middle East to dress an Oscar winner, Halle Berry. Other Hollywood stars he has dressed include Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron & Catherine Zeta – Jones.
“My role in the program is an integral part of my constant desire to develop the fashion industry in the Arab world,” Saab said in a statement. Joining him as a judge on the panel will be well – known Tunisian -Italian fashionista, actress & TV host Afef Jnifen. The 3rd judge will be a surprise celebrity guest – star /expert for each episode. Saudi designer Faris Al Shehri, creator of the Maison BO – M label, will mentor the participants as they tackle weekly fashion challenges. The host will be Lebanese – Australian model Jessica Kahawaty. This will be the 2nd Arabic version of the show. The 1st had a two season run on Beirut based Future Television in 2006-2007.
DETECTIVE CONAN: THE DARKEST NIGHTMARE BOW AT #1
New instalments of 2 long running animation series, both distributed by Toho, bowed atop the Japanese box office for the weekend of 16th Apr, 2016 & 17th. Apr, 2016 while Spotlight debuted at #7. Entering at #1 was Detective Conan: The Darkest Nightmare, the 20th episode in a feature animation series about the cases of a clever teenaged detective trapped in a boy’s body. Released on 348 screens, the film earned a resounding $11 million on 934,000 admissions. This is 38% better than the previous “Conan” film, which went on to finish with $41 million last year. Premiering at #2 was Crayon Shin – Chan: Fast Asleep! Dreaming World Big Assault!, the 26th feature entry in an animated series starring a sexually precocious kindergartener. Released on 334 screens, the film recorded $3.7 million. This was slightly better than the take of the previous “Crayon” film, which ended its run with $21 million. Boosted by its best picture Oscar, Spotlight opened on 109 screens on Fri 15th Apr, 2016 through Longride, and recorded $810,000 in its 1st 3 days of release.
THEY CALL ME JEEG DOMINATES DAVID DI DONATELLO AWARDS
Offbeat superhero movie They Call Me Jeeg, a fresh riff on formulaic Hollywood franchises and on a 1970 Japanese cartoon series, was the big winner at Italy’s 60th David Di Donatello Awards, the country’s top film nods, scooping 7 statuettes including for “Best Debut Director”, “Best Producer”, “Best Actress”, “Best Actor” & “Best Supporting Female” & “Best Suppoeting Male” thespians.
The “Best Picture Prize” went to Paolo Genovese’s high – concept dramedy Perfect Strangers, which is about a dangerous game played with cell phones, is the only Italian film unspooling at the Tribeca Film Festival. Perfect Strangers, which has done boffo biz locally, also took the “Best Screenplay” nod. Matteo Garrone won the “Best Director” nod for the English language horror /fantasy Tale Of Tales, which also won in the “Best Cinematography”, “Best Production Design”, “Best Costume Design”, “Best Makeup” & “Best Hair Categories”. “I’m lucky that Jeeg was not eligible for “Best director”, Garrone quipped as soon as he got on stage.
GIUSEPPE TORNATORE TO SHOOT FOR ALIBABA PICTURES
Italy’s Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore has struck a deal to make a movie with China’s Alibaba Pictures Group, the film making arm of e -commerce giant Alibaba.
The deal was symbolically signed by Tornatore & Zhang Qiang of APG at the end of a forum on co – productions Sun on the 1st full day of the Beijing International Film Festival. Among the witnesses to the signing was Miao Xiaotian, VP of China Film Co – production Corporation. “The deal is an agreement in principal without a project that is yet agreed,” Tornatore told Variety. He said that it will likely happen within the next 2 to 3 years and be a majority Chinese financed picture. It was unclear whether the film will use the bilateral co – production treaty between Italy & China that was signed in 2014. The 1st film that used the treaty was Cristiano Bortone’s Coffee. Tornatore, who has other credits including Malena, A Pure Formality & The Legend of 1900, joins an expanding list of well – known talents who have signed 1st look or outline deals with APG. Others include Wong Kar- Wai & Peter Chan.
ITALIAN FILM INDUSTRY TAKING CANNES FILM INDUSTRY SNUB IN STRIDE
Italy’s film industry is reacting rather nonchalantly to the surprising absence of Italian movies in the Cannes competition for the 1st time in a decade and taking consolation in the expected presence of a robust contingent of young Italo directors set to screen across the fest’s other sections. “One year you have 3 films in competition, the other you don’t have any. It’s normal,” says producer Riccardo Tozzi head of Italian motion picture association Anica. “It doesn’t mean there aren’t good movies; it just means there aren’t any that fit the Cannes competition mold,” he adds. Of course last year Italy had new works by Cannes regulars Nanni Moretti, Paolo Sorrentino & Matteo Garrone vying for the Palme D’Or. This year veteran Italo auteur Marco Bellocchio’s Sweet Dreams didn’t make the cut.
SALSIPUEDES TELLS 3 GENERATIONAL TALE
The screening of Panamanian drama Salsipuedes, the feature debut of Ricardo Aguilar Navarro & Manolito Rodriguez, was one of the high – points of the 5th Panama International Film Festival, with an audience of 1,100 packing out Panama City’s Teatro Balboa. In International Film Festival of Panama’s closing ceremony the pic received the Audience Award for “Best Central American And Caribbean Film”. The film tells the story of Andrés who moved to Washington State aged 10 but returns to his local neighbourhood in Panama City, when aged 20, upon hearing about the death of his grandfather. At the funeral, he reunites with his father who is in prison, but allowed out for the funeral. At the funeral he escapes, and Andrés decides to stay home to protect his father. The pic then jumps back & forth between the past & present, through a series of flashbacks that explore the relationship between grandfather, father & son. Rodriguez says that the original inspiration for the story came from the double album, Maestra Vida, by Panamanian singer Ruben Blades, that tells of a story between grandfather, father & son in a local neighborhood.
THE CHEQUE TO HAVE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST EVER RELEASE
Arturo Montenegro, director of local comedy The Cheque spoke to Variety at the International Film Festival Of Panama about his film, that world premiered in the fest to a packed audience in the Teatro Balboa, and was released on 14 Apr, 2016 on 22 screens, the country’s biggest ever opening screen – count. “It’s a wonderful & unique experience, to be here in International Film Festival Of Panama,” said Montenegro. “Not only because I’m showing my picture, The Cheque, but also because Panama is increasingly positioning itself as a film capital for the Central American market.” The helmer admitted that he was nervous about the world premiere, since he had never screened the pic to a wide audience and wanted to know whether the comedy would click with spectators. But he said he was delighted by the response.
HIDE AND SEEK SHOOTS FOR VILLAGE ROADSHOW ASIA
Principal photography is now underway on Hide And Seek, a Chinese adaptation of the Korean suspense thriller of the same title. The film is the latest addition to the slate of Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, the local production arm of Australian Entertainment Multinational Village Roadshow Group. The original Hide And Seek was a breakout hit that earned $35.6 million in Korea in 2013 for writer – director Huh Jung. It told a tale of 2 families who believe that strangers are living in their homes and set about trying to decipher a series of codes & clues. The new film is directed by Golden Horse winner Liu Jie and stars Wallace Huo Jianhua & Qin Hailu. Regina Wan Qian, who won a “Best Supporting Actress” award for 2014’s Paradise In Service, also stars Ellen Eliasoph of Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, Gigi Qi of New Clues & Lizhi Chen of Spire Media are producers on the film.
ITV MULLS ENTERTAINMENT ONE. BID
UK broadcasting & production giant ITV is mulling a bid for Canadian production & distribution company Entertainment One. ITV has held preliminary talks with eOne about a deal, according to sources cited by Bloomberg, but no decision has been reached on the move. Responding to the speculation, Entertainment One, also known as eOne, said Thurs “no approach has been received” by the company. A spokesman for ITV said: “We do not comment on speculation.” Shares in Entertainment One on the London Stock Exchange, where it is listed, rose 16% at midday local time Thurs to 184.10 p, valuing the company at £777 million ($1.1 billion). Shares in ITV rose 1.33% to 243.40p. Entertainment One has been on the acquisition trail in recent years, buying majority stakes in Mark Gordon Company, the producer of Grey’s Anatomy & Astley Baker Davies, creator of Peppa Pig. This has forced it to take on further debt, which has dented its stock price.