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Icon Creates UK Distrb; NY Times Dig Into Coporate Involvement In Indies; Florida Company Funds Four

Icon Creates UK Distrb; NY Times Dig Into Coporate Involvement In Indies; Florida Company Funds Four

Involvement In Indies; Florida Company Funds Four Pics

Compiled by Mark Rabinowitz and Eugene Hernandez

>> Icon Creates UK Distribution Company

Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey’s Hollywood-based production company, Icon
, has launched its own British theatrical distribution
company, according to Daily Variety. Billed as Icon Film Distribution,
the company will launch next year, and will excusively handle the U.K.
distribution for all Icon-produced projects, including the upcoming
films from Wim Wenders (“The Million Dollar Hotel“) and Atom Egoyan
(“Felicia’s Journey“). In addition, the trade reports that the new
company will distribute many of the studio films that Icon produces,
including Robert Redford’s upcoming “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and
Gibson’s upcoming directorial effort, “Fahrenheit 451.” “Vance” is to be
distributed in the U.S. by DreamWorks, while Warner Brothers has rights
to “451.” Icon has production deals with both Warners and Paramount.
Former managing director of distribution at Pathe Nick Hill has been
named to run Icon Film Distribution. [Mark Rabinowitz]

>> NY Times Explores Increasing Corporate Involvement In Indie Film

“Independent film is getting less independent,” begins Karen Hudes’ article
in yesterday’s New York Times about product placement and corporate
sponsorship in the indie film community. Entitled, “Independent Film, but
With a Catch: A Corporate Logo,” the article includes comments from Good
‘s Ted Hope, Miramax‘s Mark Gill, and The Shooting Gallery‘s Paul
Speaker. Gill preaches restraint but touts the benefits of a reported $10
million corporate tie between Miramax and Tommy Hilfiger to promote the new
Robert Rodriguez/Kevin Williamson movie, “The Faculty.” While preaching
“seamless” placements and brand associations, Speaker states, “For
independent film, we’re really just scratching the surface of what we can
do with corporate alliances.”

Of course this is no surprise to many on the indie scene who receive
festival t-shirts with Gap or Armani logos and sip party cocktails courtesy
of Absolut or Remy Martin. In fact, even as indieWIRE secures such support
to underwrite some of own its plans for the upcoming Sundance and Slamdance
Film Festivals, Ted Hope explains that at these events corporations are
filling gaps left by long-gone government arts funding. Yet Hope admits,
“it’s a hard road to walk” with product placements such as the use of
Heineken and Budweiser beer in Ed Burns’ “The Brothers McMullen.” Also
interviewed is filmmaker and AIVF board member Jim McKay (“Girls Town”) who
was an outspoken opponent of a recent film tour sponsored by Guess Jeans.
“We’re entering a period now in which sponsorship is just going
unquestioned,” McKay says. Acknowledging the value of free products, McKay
warns of indie films becoming advertisements.

Film Threat‘s Chris Gore calls corporate involvement a “nail in the coffin”
of independent film. At the article’s conclusion, speculating on the
product tie-ins that might have been used in “Gone with The Wind” or “The
Wizard of Oz
,” Gore quips, ” We’re not creating classics here — this is
about commerce.” [Eugene Hernandez]

>> Royal Pictures Funded For Four Pics

Miami-based Royal Pictures has announced a production lineup of four
films funded to the tune of $24 million, according to Daily Variety. All
four films will be shot using South Florida-based cast and crew, and
will be exec produced by Chicago Studios founder Robert Brent and
L.A.-based producer Arlyne Rothberg. The first film set to shoot is
Calle Ocho,” to be shot simultaneously in English and Spanish with a
budget of $4.5 million and released in both languages. Two of the
remaining three films are “Neon Dreams,” a biopic of Miami-based music
group No Mercy and an adaptation of Peter Mathiessen’s novel “Men’s
.” The $10 million “Lives” is set in the Hamptons, and scheduled
for a fall 1999 shoot date, with Variety reporting that Alec Baldwin is
in talks to star and that Billy Joel is interested in composing the
score. The fourth film is “Stray Kids,” from a script by Robert Clem.
[Eugene Hernandez]

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