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Post by Admin on Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:44 am

Berlin Film Fest: Universal Reclaims International Production for UPI
Thompson on Hollywood

A year after Universal merged its international production group and Focus Films International, the studio is moving Christian Grass’s division back under Universal and naming Grass UPI’s president of international production and acquisitions, reporting to new UPI president and president of international for Universal Pictures David Kosse and Universal co-chairman Donna Langley.

Basically, last January ex-Universal co-chairman David Linde, who once ran Focus with James Schamus, had sold Focus’s Rogue genre label to Relativity Media, and was helping to buttress Focus’s numbers. But in the past year, Grass’s robust push into local production—-including an eight-picture deal with Germany’s UFA Cinema, the $20-million hit Black Lightning (a co-production with Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Productions in Russia), and the Dutch hit The Storm—has boosted the UPI side of the the ledger, not Focus International sales and distribution, which continues to post strong global numbers on its own with such films as Coraline, Shane Acker’s 9 and the Coens’ A Serious Man.

The two titles Focus produced in conjunction with Grass’s group, Thirst and Sin Nombre, pre-dated the merger, points out Schamus, who is going to the Berlin fest with the world premiere of Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller, as well as Focus’ prize Sundance accquisition, Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right. Upcoming Focus productions include Joe Wright’s international intrigue thriller Hanna, starring Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan as a teen assassin, marking the division’s largest budget to date (some $30 million), as well as Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, starring Alice in Wonderland‘s Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender and (if deals go through) Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins and Imogen Poots. Focus Features is selling the Charlotte Bronte adaptation, a co-production BBC Films, in the Berlin market.

Upcoming releases from Grass’s international production group include True Legend, a Bill Kong production directed by Yuen Woo Ping, which is premiering at Berlin; Teufelskicker, from UFA, set to open in Germany March 11; L’Arnacoeur, a French co-production with Quad starring Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis, to open in France March 17; Mandate’s Kick-Ass, which UPI will release in select territories, Una Canzone per Te, from Cattleya, to open in Italy on May 28; and Guillem Morales’ Los Ojos de Julia, produced by Guillermo del Toro, to open in Spain in October 2010.

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Post by Admin on Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:33 am

International shoots flock to Germany

12 February, 2010 | By Martin Blaney

International films shooting in Berlin during the Berlinale is becoming something of a tradition.

Last year, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer - which has its world premiere at the Berlinale Palast tonight - was shooting in the centre of Berlin during the festival for scenes set in London (with the obligatory red double-decker bus!).

US producer Joel Silver’s Dark Castle Entertainment now has two films shooting in the region as part of its five-year strategic alliance sealed with Studio Babelsberg in December 2008.

Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger are headlining Jaume Collet-Serra’s thriller Unknown White Male which has used such city centre locations as the U-Bahn at Friedrichstraße and the new Hauptbahnhof, while production cranked up here last week on Todd Lincoln’s horror film The Apparition with a cast including Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton.

In addition, veteran Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland has been using local locations for her Second World War drama Hidden, including the Berliner Straße set at the Babelsberg Studios. The German-Canadian-Polish co-production is being handled internationally by Beta Film.

At the same time, Roland Emmerich is preparing his Euros 27.5m Shakespeare drama Anonymous, with UK Shooting Star Edward Hogg in one of the leads, to begin filming from late March at the Babelsberg studios.

And David Cronenberg could be coming to the region this summer for his next feature The Talking Cure with Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley. Berlin-based Lago Films will produce the adaptation of the Christopher Hampton play of the same name, with HanWay handling international sales.

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