DAILY NEWS **UPDATE**: Bingham Ray Said to Head UA; Itemus Bankruptcy; New This Week; More Toronto Films
by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> Bingham Ray Reportedly Headed to UA
(indieWIRE/08.01.01) — October Films Co-Founder Bingham Ray is reportedly
set to be named the head of United Artists, MGM‘s specialty division.
Un-attributed Hollywood trade reports today indicate that the appointment is
Reached yesterday on his cell phone, Ray declined comment but referred
indieWIRE to a United Artists PR exec. Senior VP of Worldwide Publicity
Amanda Lundberg told indieWIRE that she would have no comment.
At Sundance this year, Bingham Ray announced that he had joined Crossroads
Films. The company later signed an output pact with United Artists. Ray
co-founded October Films with Jeff Lipsky ten years ago and the company was
later acquired by Universal. Chris McGurk, who oversaw October as a
Universal exec, now serves as a top exec at MGM. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Shooting Gallery Parent, Itemus Inc., Files for Bankruptcy; CEO Advocates Legal Action Against Shooting Gallery Individuals
(indieWIRE/08.01.01) — Itemus Inc., the parent company of the beleaguered
Shooting Gallery, decided to file for bankruptcy and its entire board of
directors resigned yesterday (Tuesday). In an announcement sent to
indieWIRE, the company indicated that, finding “no viable alternative,” its
exiting board has authorized the company to make an assignment into
bankruptcy under [Canada’s] Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA).
Subsequently, in a statement to stakeholders published on the Itemus website
late yesterday, President and CEO Jim Tobin candidly added that he will
encourage Itemus’ trustee to pursue legal action against those involved with the
Shooting Gallery deal.
Tobin simply said, in his statement, “We have run out of cash,” adding that
numerous 11th hour attempts were made to save the company from its financial
difficulties. He then added, “In my view, Itemus would have withstood all
those challenges if we hadn’t encountered so many ‘bottomless’ problems
related to our Shooting Gallery acquisition. I will advocate that Itemus’
trustee pursue legal actions to seek recourse against appropriate persons in
the Shooting Gallery context.”
The company statement earlier in the day indicated that Itemus had been
pursuing financing, the sale of assets, and other scenarios to save the
outfit. While Itemus indicated that “some sales were made,” it said
yesterday, “the company was unable to raise sufficient funds. Continuing
difficulties in settling with Shooting Gallery creditors precluded success
in financing or divestiture pursuits.”
“The fall of Itemus will be blamed on the company doing too much too fast,
on poor markets, and on strategic and tactical moves that in hindsight were
ill-conceived,” Tobin said bluntly in his statement, clearly referring to
the Shooting Gallery acquisition which closed earlier this year. He ended
his letter by apologizing to the company’s stakeholders. “I haven’t sold a
share or accepted a bonus, and have been devastated professionally and
financially from this. We should all take important lessons away from this,
and strive to do better next time. I certainly will.”
Reuters reported yesterday that shares of Itemus ended trading on the
Toronto Stock Exchange at a value of about 2.5 Canadian cents each. [Eugene
>> NEW THIS WEEK: In a Lonely Place, “Apocalypse,” “Cure,” “Thomas,” “Sun”
(indieWIRE/08.01.01) — It’s often self-serving and just plain useless to
find thematic threads among a group of films coming out during the same
weekend. But sometimes you just can’t help it. Even among this Friday’s
studio releases (“The Princess Diaries,” where a young American girl
discovers she’s a European princess, and “Rush Hour 2,” where African
American comic Chris Tucker finds himself in China) the feeling of
dislocation is everywhere.
Just check out this Friday’s biggest specialized opener: Miramax‘s release
of “Apocalypse Now Redux,” the celebrated director’s cut of Francis Ford
Coppola‘s 1979 classic. At 3 hours and 16 minutes (about 54 minutes longer
than the original), Captain Willard’s journey into the heart of darkness is
all the more harrowing. (It’s hard to believe that Miramax, a company known
for trimming their acquisitions, will actually distribute a version of a
film ‘longer’ than its initial cut.) Anyway, Coppola’s Vietnam was all about
existential angst and alienation — a dreamy world where Martin Sheen‘s
Willard lost his sense of self and his sense of place. (Look for an interview with “Apocalypse Now” cinematographer Vittorio Storraro next week in indieWIRE.)
Also venturing into darkened hearts and dislocated spaces is Kiyoshi
Kurosawa. A veteran of Japanese filmmaking, Kurosawa has been unknown to
Americans until now: a traveling retrospective of his work hit the U.S. last
month and Cowboy Booking International has released his 1997 feature “Cure,” currently playing in Los Angeles and opening in New York on Friday.
(indieWIRE’s interview with the director runs in today’s issue.) With 14
features under his belt (his latest, “Pulse,” recently premiered at Cannes
2001), Kurosawa has made a career out of strange, subtly apocalyptic tales.
“Cure,” in particular, fits the dislocation mode, which follows a detective
on the hunt for a mind-controlling slacker who forces people to kill their
colleagues and loved ones out of what appears to be utter ennui.
For a similarly alienating effect, yet couched in our whimsical interactive
times, Pierre-Paul Renders and screenwriter Philippe Blasband (“An Affair of Love“) have come up with “Thomas in Love,” which IFC Films will distribute this Friday. A best first feature winner at Venice 2000, awarded by the FIPRESCI critics association for “its innovative film language and humour,
perfectly matching its theme of miscommunication,” “Thomas in Love” is shot
completely from the point of view of our agoraphobic hero, Thomas, who never
leaves his desktop connection, browsing for love and satisfaction.
While Colin Nutley‘s smarmy “Under the Sun,” about a dopey Swede named Olof who falls in love with his blonde housekeeper, may not have much to do with
darkness or dislocation, the displaced UK native has made a career out of
making films in foreign territory. “Under the Sun,” which was nominated for
a Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2000, is the British filmmaker’s 11th
Swedish project since the celebrated TV series “Annika” in 1984. Shadow
Distribution (Tony Gatlif‘s “Latcho Drom,” Ken Loach‘s “Carla’s Song“) will distribute “Under the Sun” in theaters this Friday.
Meanwhile, two indies already in release will expand to additional markets
this weekend: “Ghost World,” which features the travails of Thora Birch‘s
disaffected teen Enid, alienated as much from her suburban surroundings as
Captain Willard, and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the story of a German
transvestite glam rocker rebuffed by American society and her ex-lover.
>> “Novocaine” and 9 Others Join Toronto Lineup
(indieWIRE/08.01.01) — David Atkin‘s directorial debut, “Novocaine,” will
have its world premiere at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival.
It joins nine other films that have been announced as special presentations
at the upcoming fest, six are world premieres. Atkins movie stars Steve
Martin, Helena Bonham Carter and Laura Dern and will screen on the first Saturday of the event, September 8th.
Also set to screen are Bruce McDonald‘s world premiere “Picturing Claire,”
Jill Sprecher‘s “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing,” Yvan Attal‘s world premiere “Ma Femme Est Une Actrice,” Gregor Jordan‘s world premiere “Buffalo Soldiers,” Mike Figgis‘ world premiere “Hotel,” John Dahl‘s world premiere “Joy Ride,” Neal Slavin‘s world premiere “Focus,” and two films by Richard Linklater, “Tape” and “Waking Life.” [Eugene Hernandez]