DAILY NEWS: "Memento" Pact with Newmarket/Berney; Ron Mann Makes Lions Gate Deal; Report from LA Dotcom Conference; Wenders Plans Digital Slate
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE, , with a report from Kevin Dreyfuss in LA
>> TORONTO 2000: Newmarket and Berney Team for "Memento" Pact
(indieWIRE/ 9.13.00) -- Christopher Nolan's "Memento" has finalized its
distribution deal, a spokeman confirmed last night here in Toronto.
The film will be released theatrically in March by Newmarket Capital Group
"under the auspices of Bob Berney," the source indicated. Additional
details are expected to be forthcoming here at the Festival.
Film producers began talking publicly about a distribution pact last
week in Venice, as was reported in indieWIRE. Earlier this week
when the movie had its screenings at the Toronto International Film
Festival the deal was sealed as those involved finalized plans and
strategized the announcement.
Newmarket has financed numerous projects, including the Oscar-nominated
Mike Leigh film, "Topsy Turvy" and American teen hits "Cruel Intentions" and "American Pie." [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Lions Gate Acquires Mann's New Hot Rod Doc
(indieWIRE/ 9.13.00) -- The return of the Hot Rod as doc-maker Ron Mann,
director of "Grass," "Twist," and "Comic Book Confidential," made a deal with Lions Gate Filmshere in Toronto, to complete the financing of his new project which is set to go into production in December.
Titled "Confessions of a Hotroddin', Pinstripin', Kustomizin', Teenage
Icon," the movie will be produced by ChumCity and Mann's Sphinx
Productions, according to the filmmaker.
"I turned down more money from other companies because Lions Gate is so
good," commented Mann in a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday here in
Toronto. "They know how to distribute movies," Mann added, citing their
releases of his own film, "Grass," and the recent distribution of "The Eyes
of Tammy Faye" and Errol Morris' "Mr. Death."
Mann's film is described as an "homage to speed freaks" focusing on Ed "Big
Daddy" Roth, who was the subject of Tom Wolfe's book, "The Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby." The announcement continues, " Roth gained fame in the 60s with his sculpted custom cars 'The Beatnik Bandit',
'Mysterion', 'The Outlaw' and for the rebel cult figure Rat Fink and other eye-popping monster art creations."
Describing 'hot rodding' as, "The pop craze that everyone forgot about,"
Mann continued, "For me it is about the birth of the teenager."
Lions Gate has taken all North American rights, minus Canadian television
rights which were nabbed by ChumCity. Films Transit is handling foreign
sales. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> DIGITAL COAST 2000: What A Difference a Year Makes in the Hollywood Dotcom World
(indieWIRE/ 9.13.00) -- At last year's Digital Coast 2000 conference out
here in LA, dot-coms were the high-flying darlings of the business world
and the national media. New Internet entertainment companies were
making a run at upending the Hollywood establishment, and the PC and the
TV were this close to morphing into one beautiful entertainment device
that would let a thousand new voices be heard all across the world.
In the midst of the excitement, many scoffed when Packet Video President
Rob Tercek publicly lit into Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) CEO
David Neuman by saying that DEN company's business model was akin
to, "burning hundred-dollar bills on the corner of Fairfax and Sunset."
Oh, what a difference a year makes.
After a year of market crashes and scandalous flame-outs by such paragons of
Olympian hubris as the aforementioned DEN, nothing about the future seems
secure. Within weeks of this year's conference, the usually sure-footed
Shockwave.com laid off staff and pulled back from deals to create Internet
shows with Hollywood and Indiewood luminaries like David Lynch. And then the
highly anticipated Spielberg-Katzenberg-Ron Howard venture POP.com died the wimpiest of deaths. As conference organizer Jason McCabe Calacanis put it, "It's gut-check time."
It seemed fitting that this year's conference commenced with that same Rob
Tercek, who was dignified enough not to crow about his prophetic remarks
regarding DEN, and instead spent his speech giving an intriguing glimpse into
the future of media, where he sees "video becoming software," and where ABC
and the other networks are no longer competing only with other media outlets,
but also with email and chat, with gaming, with Napster, and on and on.
Tercek also spent much time plugging his own company's business model,
involving sending streaming video to wireless devices like cell phones and
Palm Pilots. Sounds cool, but still, it's hard to imagine what you'd want to
watch on your cell phone.
Later in a day marred by low turnout and tepid audiences, the intriguing
panel troika of filmmakers Penelope Spheeris ("The Decline of Western
Civilization," "Wayne's World"), Wayne Wang ("Smoke") and Stan Lee (comic book guru, co-creator of Spider-Man and X-Men, CEO of StanLee.net) gathered to discuss the new era in storytelling heralded by the widespread adoption of digital video technology, as well as Internet distribution opportunities.
Lee sang the praises of online storytelling, and acknowledged that what sets
the computer-based experience apart from film and TV is the concept of
greater interactivity with the audience, although he was the first to admit
he wasn't sure how to pull it off. Spheeris, who is currently working on a
new DV feature, had an upbeat answer when asked about the dual blows of DV
filmmaking and online file-sharing conquering Hollywood: "When you're an
anarchist at heart like I am, you welcome the disaster...it's cool, it's like
the Wild West."
But the panel was quick to point out that anyone trying to make money on
their copyrighted works would get a swift response summed up, paradoxically,
by Spheeris, "I'd sue their ass!" As for Wang, who is also readying a DV
feature for his next release, he explained, "There is no excuse for a student
filmmaker not to make their feature anymore," because DV cameras have
become so cheap, and the distribution outlets via the Web have become so varied.
More to come... [Kevin Dreyfuss]
[Frequent indieWIRE contributor, Kevin Dreyfuss, will offer additional reports from the Digital Coast 2000 conference later this week.]
>> Wenders to Take Digital Slate Under His Wing; Partnership for Five Films Teams Road Movies, WDR and Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen
(indieWIRE/ 9.13.00) -- News from Berlin...Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH,
the company founded 20 years ago by Wim Wenders and producer Ulrich
Felsberg, is teaming with broadcaster WDR and Filmstiftung
Nordrhein-Westfalen to produce a slate of digital films. Five films under
the "radikal digital" banner will be created by a collection of emerging
talent, according to Road Movies.
Wenders will serve as the "patron" for the slate which will create the
films, according to the announcement, "Using different digital production
techniques, including the new Sony 24p HDCAM film camera as well DigiBeta
and digital consumer systems, to venture down new avenues in filmmaking in
terms of the visuals, content and aesthetics."
The partnership intend to consider theatrical releases of the films prior
to their airing on television.
While Road Movies will announce complete details at the Hof Film Days next
month, the company confirmed that it will produce Wender's next movie
digitally. [Eugene Hernandez]