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Source Says “The Cruise” Acquired; “Pi” Sweet in Week One; Unapix Set with PGP; and BET Invests In M

Source Says "The Cruise" Acquired; "Pi" Sweet in Week One; Unapix Set with PGP; and BET Invests In M

Unapix Set with PGP; and BET Invests In Moviemaking, Bigtime

Compiled by Eugene Hernandez

>> Artisan Set to Announce Acquisition of “The Cruise”

A source told indieWIRE yesterday (Tuesday) that Artisan Entertainment
has acquired Bennett Miller’s documentary “The Cruise“. The source
indicated that the deal is set to be announced today. “The Cruise”, a
digitally shot black & white portrait of Manhattan tour guide Timothy
“Speed” Levitch, debuted in April at the 1998 Los Angeles Independent
Film Festival. It premiered in New York at “docfest” and then screened
at the Newport Film Festival where it won the Audience Award.

The expected announcement comes on the heels of last week’s news that
the company will begin production this fall on a new film, “A Stir of
“, written and directed by David Koepp and starring Kevin Bacon.
A company representative told indieWIRE yesterday that Artisan has also
closed a deal with Steven Soderbergh (“Out of Sight“, “Sex, Lies & Videtape“)
for a new film. The project, entitled “The Limey“, is based on a script by
Lem Dobbs. Casting is not yet set for the film which will begin production
on October 1st, according to the publicist.

>> “Pi” Solid and “Whatever” Slow in Opening Weekend; “Buffalo” Gains

Darren Aronofsky’s “Pi” opened strongly, bringing in $31,069 on three
screens, while Susan Skoog’s “Whatever” only managed $46,347 on 35
screens, according to ShowBIZ Data. The service indicated that Vincent
Gallo’s “Buffalo 66” gained 63% in its second, earning $155,263 on 32
screens, for a total of $383,572.

>> Unapix On Board With Production Grant Program

Unapix films has joined the LAIFF‘s “Production Grant Program” (PGP),
committing a $15,000 grant, and a first-look to the project that is selected
by PGP jury. In its first cycle, the program will offer discounted or donated
products or services to the film that is selected. Debut sponsors include
Kodak, Panavision, and CFI. Todd A-O and Variety were also added as
participants along with Unapix. The first PGP project selection is set
to be announced in September, according to Robert Faust, head of the L.A.
Film Collabrative which presents the LA Independent Film Festival and
runs the PGP.

[For more information, call 213/960-9460.]

>> BET Investing Big Money Into New Production Company

Black Entertainment Television chairman Robert Johnson announced
earlier this week that the company is investing $100 million into a
production company that will create at least three low-budget films
each year and approximately 10 television movies annually. Johnson
told Variety that the features will be targeted at “black middle-class
and urban audiences.” He told the Hollywood trade publication that the
company will solicit scripts from writers who can tell “black stories.”
Commenting specifically, Johnson told Variety, We don’t want to tell
stories that traditionally focus on guns and drugs and broken families.
There are so many black stories that are out there that are never told.”

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