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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.



November 08, 2010
News From AFM 2010



Acquisitions have started as part of the 2010 American Film Market, running Nov. 3-10, at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Check back here for updates.

-AFM attendance was up 6% overall in 2010, climbing to 7,695, compared with 7,246 last year. The number of companies acquiring product rose 1% to 664 from 658 last year, while acquisitions executives remained relatively flat, at 1,417, compared with 1,419 in 2009.

“The positive feeling in the halls is a direct result of production levels that are now in balance with marketplace demand,” said AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf, who also is EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). “Buyers are pre-buying, assuring they will have a steady flow of films, which in turn assures producers that their films have been pre-accepted by the marketplace.”
Companies selling product, however, dropped 7% to 343.

AFM saw 427 films screen, 43 of those being world premieres and 306 being market premieres. Twenty-one films screened in 3D, and there were films from 36 countries, totaling more than 700 screenings in all.

-The International Trade Administration (ITA) of USDOC, through its market development cooperator program (MDCP), awarded IFTA $248,000 to enhance global competitiveness of U.S. film exports. The multiyear award will help establish new U.S. pavilions at film and television markets, including at Hong Kong FILMART 2011 March 21-24.

“We are proud that MDCP recognized IFTA’s ability to help U.S. independent film companies compete more effectively in the global marketplace,” said IFTA president-CEO Jean Prewitt.

-Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired domestic and select international rights to The River Sorrow. Directed by Rich Cowan, the film stars Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames and Christian Slater. The film just ended principle photography.

-Anchor Bay Films through AFM has finalized acquiring all rights for English speaking territories to The Howling: Reborn, a new chapter in “The Howling” horror series, written and directed by Joe Nimziki.

“Genre films have always been special at Anchor Bay,” said Kevin Kasha, EVP of acquisitions and co-productions. “Given our success with many of the classic franchises and their honored remakes, The Howling: Reborn is the perfect addition to our family.”

The film is currently in post-production.

Additionally, Anchor Bay acquired all distribution rights for the United States, United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand to dark high school comedy Daydream Nation. The film opened the Toronto International Film Festival’s Canada First! Daydream Nation is the full-length directorial debut of Michael Goldbach and stars Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Thor) as a girl who has an affair with her teacher. The film will be released theatrically in 2011.

“Daydream Nation is a great addition to the 2011 Anchor Bay slate,” said Anchor Bay Entertainment president Bill Clark. “Our team has the ability to really target the audience that will love this film.”

-Through the Toronto Film Festival, Film Movement has acquired Israel’s Academy Award submission, The Human Resources Manager. The film will see a theatrical release across North America in March and hits cable VOD in the summer 2011.

-The Weinstein Co. has acquired sci-fi thriller Apollo 18, based on a screenplay by Brian Miller, who won the first-ever Astana International Action Film Festival screenplay competition, which was founded by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov.  Trevor Cawood will direct. The documentary-style film follows lost footage from Apollo 18’s secret mission to the moon, revealing new life forms. It’s set to begin filming in December, with a March release date.

-Gay film distributor Wolfe Video has acquired distribution rights to A Marine Story, a drama about the U.S. Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and Kickoff, a comedy about a gay soccer team.

“We are proud to represent this powerful film and appreciate the powerful statement it makes about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Wolfe Releasing president Maria Lynn.

A Marine Story opened Oct. 22 theatrically in Los Angeles. Kickoff will hit film festivals throughout 2011 and come to DVD/VOD next fall.

-MTI Home Video has acquired 11 films so far at AFM, including thrillers Fatal Secrets, Krews and Accused at 17; action film Chicago Overcoat; horror films Closed for the Season, Savage and Legion: The Final Exorcism; sci-fi/fantasy film Gene-Fusion; family caper Boathouse Detectives; and horror/thrillers The Undying and Resurrection County.

“I am excited about the variety of product we were able to acquire at the market,” remarked Jay Grossman, VP, acquisitions and sales, MTI Home Video.  “The market was up-beat and more conducive to doing business and getting deals done this year.”

-Gay film distributor Ariztical Entertainment is buying and selling films at this year’s AFM, and has expanded its sales division to build a library of more than 50 films for sale to international markets. Thus far, the distributor has acquired Open, a Teddy Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2010, which depicts an inner-city love story between characters that fall out of traditional realms of gender; and Stuck, from director Steve Balderson, an homage to women-in-prison films, starring Karen Black, Susan Traylor, Mink Stole and Jane Wiedlin.

“Every market has a different energy. This year seems to be affording a more relaxed process,” said Michael J. Shoel, president, Ariztical Entertainment.

- Moving Pictures Film & TV has acquired worldwide rights to the dark comedy Miss Nobody and the family film Mayor Cupcake leading into AFM. The company also has hired Stephanie Slack as SVP of worldwide sales & distribution, focusing on building the company’s worldwide television distribution business.

-A new online film distribution platform, IndiePlaya, was on hand at AFM. The service gives independent filmmakers and distributors the resource to sell directly to consumers with marketing tools such as bundling, upselling and offering additional special features. Find out more at IndiePlaya.com.

 

By: Billy Gil


October 28, 2010
AFM, AFI Link


AFM (American Film Market) and the AFI Fest (presented by Audi) will once again team, this year representing 25 films at AFM.
 
Eight AFI  Fest films will screen at AFM, including 13 Assassins (Hanway); Barney’s Version (Essential); Bedevilled (Finecut Films); Cargo (Telepool); Chico & Rita (Hanway); I Saw The Devil (Finecut Films); Julia’s Eyes (DeAplaneta) and Rabbit Hole (Affinity).
 
The additional films represented at AFM include Blue Valentine (The Weinstein Co.); Boy (New Zealand Film Commission); Carancho (Finecut Films); Casino Jack (E1 Entertainment); The Company Men (The Weinstein Co.); HaHaHa (Finecut Films); The Housemaid (Mirovision); The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co.); Norwegian Ninja (Celluloid Nightmares); Oki’s Movie (Finecut Films); Outrage (Magnolia Pictures); Precious Life (Bleiberg Entertainment); The Princess of Montpensier (Studio Canal); Removal (Archstone Distribution); Rubber (Magnolia Pictures); Shit Year (Match Factory GmbH) and Weather Station (Shoreline).

AFM takes place Nov. 3-10 at the Loew’s Santa Monica Beach Hotel and surrounding theaters, in Santa Monica, Calif.

By: Billy Gil


November 13, 2009
News From AFM 2009



This year IndieFile is reporting updates from the American Film Market (AFM). This page will be updated as news comes in, so check back. If you have news, please send it to indiefile@questex.com or bgil@questex.com.

• Jan. 21 — David Minnihan’s Father John pitch has won the American Film Market’s 2009 Favorite Film Pitch contest. He will receive a People’s Choice Award. Congratulations, David!

• Jan. 7 — AFM has announced five nominees for its first Favorite Film Pitch Award: Stephanie Bell (The Devil of Appalachia), Carlo Besasie (All the Queen's Men), Mouncey Ferguson (Forger), Barry Kneller (The Mechanics) and David Minnihan (Father John). Fans voted on the pitch during the 2010 People's Choice Awards Jan. 6, for the pitch they wanted to see get made into a film.

• More acquisitions — Indican Pictures has acquired Re-generation, a sci-fi film they compare to the likes of Blade Runner and Twelve Monkeys. Starring Peter Stebbings and Clark Johnson, the film will be released in February 2010. Additionally, Breaking Glass has acquired distribution rights for the catalog of Unearthed Films (formerly distributed by TLA Releasing), comprising 26 titles. The deal includes U.S. and select international VOD rights. 

• Nov. 9 — Some news from Cinema Epoch on acquisitions: The company has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Skirt Day, starring Isabelle Adjani. Adjani stars as a teacher at a school for “difficult” children who becomes inadvertently involved in a hostage crisis. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The film will be released theatrically in early Spring and is one of Cinema Epoch's first theatrical acquisitions in the arthouse/foreign language market. Cinema Epoch also acquired North American distribution rights to Korean films Eye for an Eye and Fighter in the Wind from sales company Finecut, as part of Cinema Epoch's theatrical series of contemporary Korean cinema, which will screen in a tour of U.S. Cities, followed by DVD releases. More titles in the series are forthcoming.

•    Nov. 8 — A panel on changing independent film strategies backs the adage “the more things change, the more things stay the same” — everyone wants a theatrical release, but getting one and having it be successful is trickier than ever (read more here).

But perhaps the strangest thing I heard — or rather, saw — at AFM was footage of Michael Jackson's Neverland estate. And not the pseudo-crazy stuff — the private wing, with junk strewn about everywhere, Christmas garland permanently adorning the stairway and childlike mannequins all over the place. The footage was apparently taken during a police investigation. Alexander Nohe of Walking Shadows has seven hours of this stuff he's selling. Hey look, This is It has already made close to $60 million in the U.S. Alone. My guess is he won't have too much trouble finding a buyer.

•    The 30th AFM is playing host to more than 80 newly accredited acquisition companies, according to Jonathan Wolf, AFM managing director and EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). That more than doubles the number of first-time participants in most previous years. This year AFM is screening 486 films in 28 languages, including 75 world premieres and 328 market premieres.

•    Artist View for the 20th year held an opening night party, at Ye Olde King's Head Pub in Santa Monica, Calif. Filmmakers and cast from MTI Home Video films Pandemic and California Dreaming were in attendance. Pictured (L-R): Scott Jones, president, Artist View Entertainment; Patricia Richardson, actress, California Dreaming; Ricki Maslar, producer, Pandemic; Larry Brahms, president, MTI Home Video.

 



•    Artist View also picked up worldwide distribution for psychological thriller 31 North 62 East, starring John Rhys-Davies of “Lord of the Rings” fame; crime thriller Chicago Overcoat, starring Frank Vincent and Kathrine Narducci of “The Sopranos”; and suspense thriller The Other Side of the Tracks, starring stars Brendan Fehr (“Bones”) and Tanyia Ramond (“Lost”).

•    Bass Entertainment Pictures has inked with Epic Pictures Group for the international releases of psychological thriller Junkyard Dog, starring Vivica A. Fox and Brad Dourif, and action film Kill Speed, starring Andrew Keegan, Nick Carter and Tom Arnold. Both films screened at AFM. Epic also nabbed domestic distribution rights to Kill Speed.

•    Producer/director Damian Chapa (Polanski Unauthorized) and actress and co-producer Leslie Garza host the world premiere of Bobby Fischer Live, telling chess champ Bobby Fischer’s life story, at the Fairfax Theater in Los Angeles Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m., with a red carpet at 6:30 p.m. Worldwide rights are available through Amadeus Pictures.

•    American Cinema International (ACI) has acquired two comedies from writing/directing team the Polish Brothers: Stay Cool, starring Winona Ryder, Mark Polish, Sean Astin, Hilary Duff, Josh Holloway, Jon Cryer and Chevy Chase; and Smell of Success, with Billy Bob Thorton, Teo Leoni and Kyle MacLachlan.
 

By: Billy Gil


October 13, 2009
AFM Announces Screening Schedule



The 30th American Film Market (AFM) is just around the corner, and the schedule has been announced, with 445 films screening, 73 of those being world premieres and 311 market premieres. The schedule is available at www.TheFilmCatalogue.com.

Stars of the films include Steve Buscemi, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Robert Duvall, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Sissy Spacek, Natalie Portman and Naomi Watts. Who doesn’t love all of those people?

AFM takes place Nov. 4-11, at and around the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Premieres include Get Low, starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall (K5 International); Unthinkable, starring Samuel L. Jackson (Sierra Pictures); Harry Brown, starring Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer (HanWay Films); Within The Whirlwind, directed by Marleen Gorris and starring Emily Watson (Telepool GmbH); Coach, starring Hugh Dancy, Liane Balaban and Mamie Gummer (Lightning Entertainment); The Last Flight, starring Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet (Gaumont); Snowmen, starring Ray Liotta, Christopher Lloyd, Bobby Coleman and Doug E. Doug (MPower Pictures); Mother and Child, starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington (WestEnd Films); Storm Warriors, starring Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi and Simon Yam (Universe Films); and The Meaning of the 21st Century, narrated by Michael Douglas (Worldwide Film Entertainment).

By: Billy Gil


September 09, 2009
People’s Choice, AFM Team for Contest



The People’s Choice Awards and American Film Market (AFM) have partnered for the Favorite Film Pitch contest, which sounds like an “American Idol” for independent film.

Those attending AFM Nov. 4-11 can get their pitches in front of producers, distributors and — gasp — you and I, the voting public. Submissions will be recorded live Nov. 7-10 on a mini-set at AFM. Pitches will be limited to two-and-a-half minutes, and industry folk will pick five finalists to be posted on www.peopleschoice.com after the 2010 People’s Choice Awards airs in January. Fans will pick which movie gets made.
 
The winner will receive the Favorite Film Pitch award and an AFM 2010 package with full access for two to AFM, airfare for two to Los Angeles, hotel for five nights in Santa Monica and scheduled meetings with producers and distributors. Full details are at www.AmericanFilmMarket.com/FavoriteFilmPitch.
 
This sounds a bit like Netflix’s FIND Your Voice competition, and like that contest, it’s a nice gesture toward struggling independent filmmakers. Personally I can’t wait to see these in action. I just hope they post the really bad ones somewhere a la “Idol.”

By: Billy Gil





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