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TV Drives Growth at Entertainment One Amid Overhaul of Film Side

1 hour ago

Mark Gordon and TV distribution powered growth at Entertainment One in 2017, as the Canada-based company overhauls its film operations and plans for fewer bigger-budget features next year.

International sales drove TV revenues, with new series “Private Eyes,” “Cardinal,” and “Mary Kills People” coming through in the company’s 2017 financial year. EOne also has AMC zombie hit “The Walking Dead,” as well as ABC series “Designated Survivor,” after taking a majority stake in The Mark Gordon Co., which posted a seven-fold rise in revenue to £119 million ($155 million). Overall TV revenues for eOne were £328.2 million, up 85% from the previous year.

Film revenues were £594.2 million, a 7% increase year-on-year. Earlier this month, U.K.-listed eOne had warned investors to brace for $47 million of writedowns, mostly stemming from its film business.

The largest single charge recorded in the full-year results released Tuesday was $25 million, which eOne said related to an unspecified film distribution agreement. »


- Stewart Clarke

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Gabriel and the Mountain’

2 hours ago

Watching “Gabriel and the Mountain” is like getting to know all sides of a friend’s character: You may discover more arrogance than expected, but the elements you always liked are reinforced. That was presumably Fellipe Barbosa’s goal when making this follow-up to his much-acclaimed debut “Casa Grande,” based on school friend Gabriel Buchmann, who traveled to Africa and died on the slopes of Malawi’s Mount Mulanje in 2009. Though Gabriel came from the same milieu as the characters in Barbosa’s previous film, the two features are very different in feel; there’s some social critique, but mostly the director extends heartfelt warmth to his friend, with the help of men and women who met Gabriel on his journey. At a running time of more than two hours, the film’s length may give art-house programmers pause, but fests will have an audience pleaser.

Early descriptions have implied »


- Jay Weissberg

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Out’

2 hours ago

Like an Eastern European Candide, a downsized Slovak power-plant engineer leaves for Latvia, pursuing a dream of a better job and good fishing in the absurdist picaresque “Out,” from feature debutant György Kristóf, who like his protagonist is an ethnic Hungarian Slovak. Although a tad lacking in dramatic oomph, the smartly stylized episodic tale is crammed full of oddball characters and boasts a deeply sympathetic turn from Hungarian actor Sándor Terhes as the protagonist, who sets out on his odyssey with barely more than schoolboy Russian and a vintage fishing pole. Fests most definitely should bite; sales agent Cercamon is closing on several Asian territories and following up on interest from European distributors.

Embracing the opportunity to go out into the world, naïve, fiftysomething Ágoston (Terhes, who has a minor role in competition title “Jupiter’s Moon”) leaves his stoic wife (Éva Bandor) and university student daughter (Judit Bárdos) for »


- Alissa Simon

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Film Review: ‘Baywatch’

3 hours ago

Baywatch,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, is a stupidly entertaining trash folly, the kind that could only be made today: an obscenity-and-insult-laced, aggressively “competent” adaptation of a 25-year-old TV show that manages to repackage every aspect of the series except, perhaps, the reason it was popular in the first place. And what was that reason? If Rodney Dangerfield were around, he might say, “There were two reasons!” But actually there’s a bit more to it.

Baywatch,” which premiered at the tail-end of the 1980s (and stumbled out of the gate, becoming a hit in syndication the way “Star Trek” did), was a muscle-beach soap opera that anticipated the sexy-youth-kitsch-for-adults appeal of “Beverly Hills 90210.” It was also an L.A. crime series where the law enforcers wore spandex swimwear; a cheeseball star vehicle that revamped the camp-stud Ken-doll mystique of the former “Knight Rider” hero David Hasselhoff; and, yes, »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Cannes: Mubi Buys Bruce McDonald’s Coming-of-Age Drama ‘Weirdos’ for U.S. (Exclusive)

4 hours ago

Streaming platform Mubi has acquired all U.S. rights to coming-of-age drama “Weirdos” for a late summer release in theaters, followed by an exclusive streaming premiere, Variety has learned exclusively.

Canadian director Bruce McDonald directed from a script by Daniel MacIvor. The movie is set in 1976 in Nova Scotia during the weekend of the American Bicentennial. Dylan Authors plays a 15-year-old running away from home with the help of his girlfriend, portrayed by Julia Sarah Stone, to move in with his estranged mother and to find himself. Molly Parker plays the mother.

Weirdos” premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Dennis Harvey said in his review for Variety: “More a short story than a novel in terms of cumulative heft, ‘Weirdos’ nonetheless benefits from the literary virtues of revealing character through a seemingly casual, anecdotal narrative. The performances are nicely in tune with the general tenor of wry, lower-case observation. »


- Dave McNary

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Cannes Facetime: Director Fatih Akin

5 hours ago

 

German filmmaker Fatih Akin returns to the Cannes competition lineup with “In the Fade,” above, a contemporary drama about a woman who takes revenge after her husband and son are murdered by the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground (Nsu).

Q: Is the Nsu still active in Germany?

A: We have this very strange case, a scandal right now, involving neo-Nazis and right-wing extreme right groups in the German army. German soldiers, whose political background is extreme right, created fictional personalities. Pretending to be Syrian refugees, they were planning bomb attacks, in order to blame the refugees as terrorists, so the state wouldn’t let refugees in anymore. That was their aim. These things are happening right now, this week.

Q: In what ways is this a personal film for you?

A: I am somehow “the other” in this country with my background. I have black hair, my parents are from Turkey. »


- Alissa Simon

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More Than Half of Doha Film Institute New Grants Go To Women Arab Auteurs

5 hours ago

The Doha Film Institute has announced the new batch of 29 film projects from 16 countries that will receive grants funding, which includes new works by France’s Sonia Kronlund, whose “Nothingwood” is screening in the Cannes Directors Fortnight, Tunisia’s Mohamed Ben Hattia (“Hedi”), Morocco’s Leila Kilani (“On the Edge”), and Palestine’s Annemarie Jacir (“When I Saw You”).

Significantly, more than half of the Dfi Spring grants are going to films helmed by women directors with a large portion of coming-of-age stories centered around  female protagonists. Over 80% are the Arab world.

“It’s not deliberate in our part, but it’s fantastic to see how more [Arab] women are being empowered to do films than ever before,” commented Dfi CEO Fatma Al Remaihi.

Two of the projects, “A Man on Fire,”  by Lebanon’s Ibrahim Harb, and “Days of Grace,”  (pictured) by Bahrain’s Saleh Nass, germinated from the 2016 Dfi Producers Lab, »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Wonders’ in 3D Sold to China’s Emperor (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

The Arnold Schwarzenegger-produced “Wonders of the Sea 3D” is set for a theatrical release in China. Directed by Jean-Michel Cousteau and narrated by Schwarzenegger, the film was picked up by China’s Emperor Films.

The deal was sealed between Emperor and producer Bruber Media Partners on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival. Deal terms were not disclosed. All other rights are represented by Conquistador Entertainment.

Emperor is planning a release of the 3D film on several thousand screens. That will be one of the first times that a documentary gets such a wide outing in China.

Bruber was represented by chairman and CEO Beryl Huang. Emperor was represented by its president and CEO Yang Gao. Also present at the signing were Schwarzenegger, Sally Zhao and Cousteau, the son of famous French explorer Jean-Jacques Cousteau.

“We are thrilled that mainland China is taking such a significant step towards »


- Patrick Frater

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Polish Filmmakers Look Abroad for Co-Production Partners

5 hours ago

The Polish film industry is embracing international co-production as it seeks to integrate further with the global business, with the encouragement of the Polish Film Institute.

France’s Philippe Carcassonne shot Anne Fontaine’s drama “The Innocents” in Poland with a local co-production partner and financial support from the Pfi.

He praises the professionalism of the local crew, and adds, “I would gladly capitalize on that experience and do it again.”

Among the upcoming international co-productions to have received Pfi backing are Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” and Agnieszka Holland’s “Gareth Jones.”

In addition to the institute’s existing production funds, its general director Magdalena Sroka launched another one last year to support minority co-productions, in which the Polish partner plays a supporting role. In 2016, the fund backed 15 projects, with companies from 22 countries attached.

“It is clearly one of Magdalena Sroka’s focuses to strengthen the co-production of Polish »


- Leo Barraclough

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Promise of Polish Production Rebates Boosts Local Entertainment Sector

5 hours ago

Poland is on the brink of its biggest push to become an international film and TV production hotspot thanks to upcoming 25% cash rebates touted as the single missing element holding back an industry bursting at the seams with energy.

Consider these indicators: 2016 set a Polish box office record with more than 50 million admissions and five local movies among the top 10; in February, Agnieszka Holland’s murder mystery “Spoor” scooped the Berlin Silver Bear; in March, “The Art of Loving,” a biopic of Poland’s pioneering communist-era sex therapist Michalina Wislocka, soared to become this year’s top grosser to date, with more than 1.7 million admissions as of the end of March; and Pawel Pawlikowski, whose “Ida” scooped Poland’s first foreign-language Oscar in 2015, is back behind the camera in his native country on new film “Cold War.”

“The production incentive is crucial,” says Polish Film Institute general director Magdalena Sroka, »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Cannes: Fox Intl. Prods. to Remake Argentina Hits in Brazil (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

Leading a flurry of film remake deals clinched by Buenos Aires’ sales company FilmSharks Intl. with international players, Fox Intl. Productions has snagged adaptation rights for Brazil to recent Argentine hit comedies “I Married a Dumbass” and “No Kids.” 

Redo rights for Ariel Winograd’s “No Kids,” an Argentine-Spanish co-production toplining Maribel Verdú and Diego Peretti, have also been licensed to Lionsgate-owned Globalgate for Germany, in partnership with Tobis; and for Korea, teaming with Lotte.

In Germany and Turkey, Sony Pictures optioned film remake rights to Nicolas Lopez’s Netflix-backed Chilean blockbuster “No Filter,” also in advanced discussions for India and China, said FilmSharks CEO Guido Rud.

Juan Taratuto’s “Dumbass” makeover deals in France, China and India are under negotiation too.

“Dumbass” and “No Kids” form part of the IP library of Disney-backed Patagonik Film Group, Argentina’s biggest film production house, which FilmSharks frequently represents for the international remake market. »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Poland Grows Filmmakers Catering to Audiences With Mainstream Hits

5 hours ago

Polish Cinema is best known for its auteurs — Agnieszka Holland, Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Andrzej Wajda come to mind — but its industry also produces mainstream box office hits.

Last year, five local films were among Poland’s top 10 grossers, including the year’s champ, writer-director Patryk Vega’s “Pitbull: Tough Women,” with $14 million, and Polish pics nabbed 25% of the total admissions. The hyper-realistically violent “Pitbull” franchise also spawned a second pic in the top 10 last year, Vega’s “Pitbull. New Orders,” with $7.1 million in fifth place on the year-end B.O. chart.

Michal Oleszczyk, Polish film critic and academic, praises Vega for creating a genre of his own, based on his TV show, “spinning a large-scale gangster yarn into what is the closest thing to a big-scale cult hit Poland has seen in decades.”

He adds: “Vega’s signature mix of fast action, highly profane, slang-ridden »


- Nikolaj Nikitin

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Cannes: Eros International Expands Its China-India Co-Production Slate

5 hours ago

Kabir Khan, director of Indian smash hit “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” is to shoot travel-related drama “Zookeeper” in the western Chinese city of Chengdu and in the panda-inhabited mountains in that region.

The movie is one of the latest additions to the expanding Chinese-Indian portion of the production slate of Trinity Pictures. Trinity is Indian film giant Eros Intl.’s two-year-old production arm aimed at big-budget franchises.

“Zookeeper” is to be co-produced with China Peacock Mountain and Chinese state-owned firm Huaxia Distribution. The screenplay has been approved by Chinese government censors ahead of a planned production start in 2018.

Director Khan is currently finishing off “Tubelight” with Indian superstars Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan and Chinese actress Zhu Zhu. Slated to be released next month, it is expected to be one of the biggest Indian films this year.

Also on deck: Siddharth Anand is preparing an untitled action film in the style »


- Patrick Frater

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Cannes: Manuel Cristóbal, Salvador Simó Talk about ‘Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’

5 hours ago

Cannes  — One of Spain’s most prestigious Spanish animation producers, Manuel Cristóbal (“Wrinkles,” “Dragonkeeper”) presents on May 23 at Cannes’ Animation Day the awaited animated feature”Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles.”

Produced by Spain’s The Glow Animation Studio and Dutch outfit Submarine, the film turns on the days that surrealist Luis Buñuel spent in Spain’s isolated mountains of Las Hurdes, shooting what became a masterpiece, “Land Without Bread,” a documentary about daily life in one of the poorest parts of Europe.

Buñuel” is directed by first-timer Salvador Simó, who studied in Los Angeles at The American Animation Institute. Simó has worked in the layout department on Disney’s ” The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ” and has directed Bangkok-based Monk Studio TV animation series “Paddle Pop Adventures.” Latido Films handles “Buñuel”‘s international sales.

What were the origins of “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles”?

Manuel Cristóbal »


- Emilio Mayorga

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Dina Merrill, Elegant Actress and Philanthropist, Dies at 93

5 hours ago

Dina Merrill, a beautiful, blonde actress with an aristocratic bearing known as much for her wealthy origins, philanthropy, and marriage to actor Cliff Robertson as for her work in film and television, died on Monday at her home in East Hampton, N.Y. She was 93.

Her son, Stanley H. Rumbough, told the New York Times that Merrill had Lewy Body dementia.

Her parents were Post Cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, and her second husband, Wall Street’s E.F. Hutton.

In 1983, on the occasion of Merrill’s musical comedy debut in a revival of Rodgers and Hart’s 1936 musical ”On Your Toes,” the New York Times gushed, “Long regarded as the essence of chic, the epitome of class and such a persuasive purveyor of charm and charity that she could have a rightful claim to fame as an eloquent spokesman — and fund-raiser — for a slew of worthy causes, Miss Merrill »


- Carmel Dagan

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Cannes Trends: Adam Sandler, Virtual Reality and Metal Detectors

6 hours ago

The Cannes Film Festival continues until Sunday, but as film buyers and sellers begin to depart, critics are taking a deep breath at the mid-point to assess the notable people and trends that have marked the festival so far.

Adam Sandler

Just last month, the straight-to-Netflix release of “Sandy Wexler” seemed to reinforce the idea that one-time box office draw Adam Sandler planned to spend the next few years making nothing but lazy, low-brow comedies for the streaming service. And then Noah Baumbach’s stellar “The Meyerowitz Stories” materialized out of nowhere, offering Sandler his best role since “Punch-Drunk Love” (which competed in Cannes 15 years earlier), and though Netflix bought it, Cannes proves a performance this good belongs on the big screen.

The Virtual Reality Revolution

“Carne y Arena,” a six-and-a-half-minute Vr installation created by director Alejandro G. Inarritu, turns out to be the revelation of the festival. It’s »


- Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman

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Cannes: Film Factory Takes ‘In Love and In Hate’ from Disney’s Patagonik (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

Cannes — Film Factory Ent., one of the biggest sales companies in the Spanish-speaking world, is linking up with the Disney co-owned Patagonik in Argentina, acquiring international sales rights to the Patagonik-produced “In Love and in Hate.”

Given the track record of both Patagonik and the film’s star, Guillermo Francella, who headlined Pablo Trapero’s big break out “The Clan,” and comedy smash “Corazon de Leon,” which earned $10.4 million and $10.6 million at the Argentine box office, “In Love and In Hate,” is already shaping up as one of Argentina’s major films of the year. It is scheduled for a Sept. 7 release via Disney in Argentina.

Film Factory is introducing “In Love and In Hate” to buyers at the Cannes Film Market.

A romantic crime thriller cast in a classic mold – a luxury hotel, a victim whom most everyone of the major characters had a motive to murder – Alejandro Maci »


- John Hopewell

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Saudi Director Haifaa Al Mansour Set for ‘The Perfect Candidate’ (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour, who with “Wadjda” became the first female filmmaker in of her country, is set to return to Saudi Arabia to shoot “The Perfect Candidate,” a drama with comedic elements about a young female physician who maneuvers through her conservative, male-dominated society to run in the municipal council elections.

Shooting on the Arabic-language pic is expected to start in Saudi Arabia in the second half of 2018, said producers Roman Paul and Gerhard Meixner, whose Berlin-based Razor Films produced “Wadjda.”

They described “The Perfect Candidate” as a somewhat ironic look at the new developments in Saudi Arabia caused by women being able to be elected on a local political level.

The film’s Saudi protagonist is frustrated after being turned back at the airport because her travel permission from her male guardian wasn’t up to date, so she embarks on an absurd campaign, balancing strict social norms, »


- Nick Vivarelli

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How the Cannes Market Lost Its Mojo

6 hours ago

The sun has been out in force at this year’s Cannes, heating up the red carpets and parties that line the Croisette, the seaside resort’s main thoroughfare. In the hotel suites where most of the deals go down at the annual gathering of studio executives and producers, the temperature has been a lot cooler. As it reaches its midpoint, bidding wars, usually a staple of Cannes, have been virtually non-existent. After losing their shirts on splashy acquisitions that sank at the box office, it’s as if the industry made a pact to not to get burned again.

“People have been more cautious,” said Arianna Bocco, exec VP of acquisitions and productions at IFC & Sundance Selects. “There’s been a true market correction.”

This year’s Cannes has proved to be one of the starkest reminders yet that the movie business is in flux, independent films aren’t »


- Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh

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Chilean Cinema Punches Above Its Weight

8 hours ago

“We’re there to talk about cinema, not national flags,” Cannes’ topper Thierry Fremaux argued after announcing Cannes’ Official Selection this year. That said, 2017’s Cannes looks set to serve another reminder of one of world cinema’s biggest success stories: Chile’s emergence as a foremost Latin America’s filmmaking nation.

Led by Marcela Said’s Critics’ Week entry “Los Perros,” Chile boasts four films selected across major sections. From Latin America, only Argentina compares in presence.

At Berlin, “A Fantastic Woman,” from Chile’s Sebastian Lelio, was arguably the single most talked-about competition title.

Related

Cannes’ Producers Network Spotlights 6 Leading Chileans

Since 2012, four Chilean directors — Marialy Rivas, Andrés Wood, Sebastian Silva and Alejandro Fernandez Almendras — have taken Sundance awards; Pablo Larrain won at Cannes (“No”), Berlin (“The Club), Venice and Toronto (“Jackie”). Chilean movies can garner significant overseas box office for foreign-language films and attract prestige foreign producers: “Gloria” and “No, »


- John Hopewell

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