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August 2, 1999 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: BIG "Blair Witch" Box Office; Changes at LAIFF; FILMMAKER Mag Names New Publisher

Mag Names New Publisher

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE


>> On 1,100 Screens "Blair Witch" Captures $28.5 Million

"'The Blair Witch Project' phenomenon continues" trumpeted a line of text
printed directly below the Artisan corporate logo on a press release issued
by the company on Sunday afternoon. The distributor mobilized Senior V.P.
Paul Pflug to deliver the news of the film's record-setting grosses on its
third weekend in release.

Expanding to 1,101 screens nationwide, "The Blair Witch Project" earned an
estimated $28.5 million for a per screen average of $25,885, according to
Artisan. The distributor added that the performance "marks the largest per
screen average of a wide three-day weekend release in history. The movie
has now earned $35.4 million at the box-office.

"Blair Witch" shot to the number two spot on the national box-office top
ten, only a few million dollars shy of the new Richard Gere/Julia Roberts
vehicle, "Runaway Bride." "Witch" topped numerous big-budget Hollywood
releases, including "Deep Blue Sea," "The Haunting" and "Inspector Gadget."

The company confirmed Sunday that the movie will further expand -- to 2,000
screens -- on August 6th. Touting the news in a prepared statement, Artisan
president Amir Malin offered, "Artisan's strategy to systematically widen
the film's release appears to be paying off at levels even beyond our
expectations."

Malin told the AP Sunday that he now projects that the film will earn a
total of $100 million at the box-office.



>> Faust Discusses Future at LAIFF

Countering a Variety claim that the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival (LAIFF) is in a state of flux, founder and festival director Robert Faust spoke
with indieWIRE about his future role with the event. Faust confirmed
Saturday that he is stepping aside from the director position, but
indicated that he intends to remain involved with the festival.

"I will be stepping up to a more advisory capacity," Faust explained,
noting that a new person has already been tapped for the position of
director. "They will be stepping in to do the day to day operations while
continuing to grow the Festival and take it to the next level." Continuing,
Faust offered, "We're making a lot of changes, but I don't want to announce
them until we are ready." Details will be unveiled within the next month or
so, according to Faust. Despite rumors of key staff departures, Faust told
indieWIRE that the core group will remain in place.

The LAIFF began in 1995 and has since emerged as a leading stop on the
spring festival circuit. Last year, the event showcased films overseas at
the first LAIFF Tokyo and the festival's parent organization, the L.A. Film
Collaborative, recently launched the Production Grant Program to support
new independent films.

[For more information, visit the LAIFF site at:
http://www.laiff.com.]


>> Gallagher Tapped as Publisher of FILMMAKER Magazine

Stephen Gallagher has been named the new Publisher of FILMMAKER Magazine,
following the departure of publisher Karol Martesko. The Independent
Feature Project (IFP) and the Independent Feature Project West (IFP/West)
which jointly own the publication appointed Gallagher, an editor with the
magazine since 1993. Gallagher has recently wrapped up his duties running
the IFP's Dockers Classically Independent Film Festival and will assume the
publisher position today (Monday).

Gallagher has served as the Program Director of the Hampton's International
Film Festival, was the media curator at The Kitchen, and served as program
director at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. He has also served as
executive producer of Ela Troyano's "Latin Boys Go to Hell" and Michael
Benson
's "Predictions of Fire" and worked for the New York Foundation for
the Arts
.

In a conversation with indieWIRE on Friday, IFP executive director Michelle
Byrd
, who primarily led the search, confirmed the appointment. Reaffirming
the magazine's goals to "support independent film and independent
filmmakers," she indicated that the IFP will explore opportunities between
the organization and the magazine, but added that she has "no desire to
have (the magazine) turn into a mouthpiece for the organization."

Launched as a joint venture between IFP and IFP/West in 1992, FILMMAKER
Magazine was founded by Karol Martesko, Scott Macaulay and Holly Willis.
The publication appeared to be in a state of limbo following Martesko's
exit, while the IFPs searched for a new publisher. Over the past few
months key staff left the magazine, notably associate publisher Tom
Brunelle
, West Coast Editor Holly Willis, controller Melissa Lintinger, and L.A. staffers Chelo Avila and Ted McDonald.

However, despite those departures, Byrd confirmed that Willis is the only
editorial loss. Scott Macaulay will remain on board as Editor, as will
Senior Editor Peter Bowen and Managing Editor Mike Jones.

Citing differences with the IFP over the direction of the magazine, Karol
Martesko exited the quarterly publication earlier this year. Upon his
departure he took the position of Sr. VP at Rising Tide Studios, parent of
the Silicon Alley Reporter and Digital Coast Reporter, where he serves as
the publisher of those publications and their daily and weekly email
services. Martesko is also the publisher of RES Magazine and indieWIRE.


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