DAILY NEWS: SightSound.com Pacts; Fox Searchlight Trio; Santa Barbara Fest
By Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE and Andrea Meyer
>>SightSound.com Signs Franchise Pact; Starts Shooting Movie Exclusively for Internet Distribution
(indieWIRE/3.7.2000) — SightSound.com is making headlines following a
pair of high-profile pacts. The company has signed an exclusive five-year
deal with Franchise Pictures, giving the dotcom distribution site the
rights to stream 35 movies on the Internet beginning later this month.
The announcement comes on the heels of the recent news that SightSound.com
is beginning production of a movie made exclusively for distribution over
Dubbed “Quantum Project,” the new film for the web, will begin production
this month starring Stephen Dorff, Fay Masterson, and John Cleese. It is
being co-produced with Metafilmics and directed by Academy Award winning
art director Eugenio Zanetti for a $3 million budget. It will premiere
on SightSound.com on May 5, 2000.
As part of the Franchise deal, the production company will become a
shareholder in SightSound.com. Among Franchise Pictures’ recent productions
is the recent Bruce Willis/Matthew Perry flick, “The Whole Nine Yards.”
In a prepared statement, SightSound.com President and CEO Scott Sander
commented, “Hollywood blockbusters are already online illegitimately.
The Internet consumer wants the biggest films with the biggest stars.
(Franchise Pictures’) Elie Samaha had the vision to deliver to them.”
SightSound.com launched in 1995 selling music online before branching
into movies. Last year the site began offering full-length feature
downloads from its Internet site (http://www.sightsound.com).
>>Fox Searchlight Names Gilula Prez of Distribution
(indieWIRE/3.7.2000) — The new Fox Searchlight leadership
has emerged, in the wake of Lindsay Law’s recent departure. Stephen
Gilula has been named President of Distribution, joining President of
Production Peter Rice and President of Marketing Nancy Utley. The trio
will jointly head the company.
Gilula was a founder of Landmark Theaters in 1974, growing the chain
from one screen — The Nuart in Los Angeles — to 140 screens at 49
theaters. He served as the company’s President and CEO until Landmark
was sold nearly two years ago.
Nancy Utley worked at 20th Century Fox for nearly 14 years and served
as the Executive VP of Marketing since 1995. She joined Searchlight
last year. Rice also joined Searchlight from the Fox studio, serving
as Executive VP over the past year of his nine-year tenure at the
>>15th Annual Santa Barbara Film Festival Kick Off
(indieWIRE/3.7.2000) — The 15th annual Santa Barbara International
Film Festival kicked off over the weekend offering an impressive program
that began with the opening night screening of James Swanbeck‘s “The
Big Kahuna” starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito. The eleven days
that follow are packed with American indie world premieres such as
“Noriega: God’s Favorite” by Roger Spottiswoode, starring Bob Hoskins,
“The Smokers” by Christina Peters, and “Wildflowers” by Melissa Painter,
starring Daryl Hannah and Clea Duvall. Notable US premieres include
Charles Burnett‘s latest, “The Annihilation of Fish,” starring James
Earl Jones and Lynn Redgrave, and “All the Rage” by James D. Stern,
starring Gary Sinise, Joan Allen, Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels.
Also screening is Stephen Kinsella‘s “Double Parked,” winner of the
Filmmaker Breakthrough Award at Slamdance.
A strong international program boasts such promising French films
as Laurent Cantet‘s Human Resources, winner of a New Director Award
at Sundance, and an official selection in New Directors/New Films,
and Regis Wargnier‘s Oscar nominated “East-West.” Spanish films include
“Jealousy” by Vicente Aranda and Fernando Trueba‘s “The Girl of Your
Dreams” starring Penelope Cruz. The solid documentary line-up includes
“Me and Isaac Newton” by Michael Apted, “Daughter of Suicide” by
Dempsey Rice, and “Barenaked in America” by Beverly Hills 90210‘s
own Jason Priestley. A Human Rights sidebar features Haskell Wexler‘s
“Bus Riders Union” and Lisa Gossel‘s well-traveled “The Children
Special events include a tribute to Anthony Hopkins, with Edward Norton,
Jr. presenting him with a Modern Master Award and Leonard Maltin engaging
the honored thespian in an “intimate chat” about his career. As part of
this year’s Celebration of the Art of Comedy, the festival will also present
awards to Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ivan Reitman. Panel discussions
provide one of the festival’s highlights, including such topics as Has
Indiewood Taken Over Hollywood? and The Evolution of the Digital Revolution,
as well as a screenwriting panel with scheduled attendees, Sherman Alexie
(“Smoke Signals“), Alan Ball (“American Beauty“), Charlie Kaufman
(“Being John Malkovich“), Eric Roth (“The Insider“), David O. Russell
(“Three Kings“), and Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry“). [Andrea Meyer]
[For more information visit the SBFF website at