International News Roundup: 'Promethus' Launches, New Disney Boss and Haneke's Second Palme
It's been a busy week in the media biz. Former Warner Bros. boss Alan Horn took over the reins at Disney Studios, Michael Haneke and Mads Mikkelsen won big at the Cannes Film Festival, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange lost his appeal to avoid extradition to Sweden and Justin Bieber set off a Euro fan-frenzy as he toured the continent for his Around The World TV series. Here's The Hollywood Reporter's look back at those and other media stories making headlines across the world this week.
EX-WARNER BOSS ALAN HORN NEW DISNEY TOPPER
After 12 extraordinarily successful years as president of Warner Bros., Alan Horn has moved to the Mouse House to take on the job as new chairman of Disney Studios. In an exclusive interview with THR, Horn outlined his strategy for Disney, which will see the studio be more flexible in the number and type of movies it makes.
CANNES JURY FALLS FOR HANEKE'S AMOUR
Austrian director Michael Haneke made it two in a row after his drama Amour took the Palme d'Or, the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, on Sunday. Haneke's last film, the Oscar-nominated The White Ribbon (2009) earned him his first Palme. Cannes' Competition Jury, headed by Nanni Moretti, was divided over this year's winners - Moretti admitted there were no unanimous decisions - but they came out in favor of critical art house in the form of Cristian Mungiu's Beyond The Hills (best screenplay and best actress honors) and Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt (best actor prize for Mads Mikkelsen) - over more mainstream films including Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and gangster drama Killing Them Softly with Brad Pitt.
Sony Pictures Classics presciently picked up North American rights to Amour back in April. Many of the other Cannes Competition titles already had domestic distribution deals in place: IFC Films and Sundance Selects took Walter Salles’ On the Road the week before its Cannes debut, The Weinstein Company locked up U.S. rights for John Hillcoat’s Lawless and Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly before Cannes - but there were still a number of high-profile U.S. pick ups at this year's Festival. Highlights included SPC taking Chilean drama No starring Gael Garcia Bernal; Oscilloscope Laboratories taking Reality, which won the best director prize for Matteo Garrone; TWC grabbing Australian musical The Sapphires and Sundance Selects acquiring U.S. rights to Ken Loach's Competition comedy The Angel's Share.
VENICE SET TO SOBER UP?
As Cannes wraps festival eyes turn to Venice and its new director Alberto Barbera. This week, Barbera told Italian reporters to expect a "more sober, less glitzy" version of the Italian film fest, which runs August 29-Sept. 8.
Asked about likely candidates for this year's Venice competition, Barbera mentioned Brian de Palma, whose thriller Passion is in post-production, Terrence Malick, whose Tree of Life follow-up To The Wonder has wrapped, and Paul Thomas Anderson, whose Scientology-themed feature The Master is expected to premiere on the Lido.
One director certain to make the trip is Michael Mann, who will be this year's president of the competition jury, Venice announced Friday.
Ridley Scott and the cast of his Prometheus - Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Guy Pearce - walked a blue carpet in London Thursday night for the world premiere of Scott's hotly-anticipated sci-fi adventure. Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman and CEO Tom Rothman introduced Scott at the Empire Leicester Square to much applause by lauding him for his ambition and imagination. "The technical term for that is balls. It's rare in Hollywood," Rothman said.
ASSANGE LOSSES EXTRADITION APPEAL
It was a very different scene across town at the U.K. Supreme Court on Wednesday when the court voted 5-2 to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault. The court dismissed Assange's appeal, which argued he would not face a fair trial in Sweden. But Assange's extradition will be stayed while his legal team examines the case and evaluates its options.
ACTA OPPONENTS, YOUTUBE WIN EURO BATTLES
But fans of a more open Internet had reason to cheer this week, after three of the European Parliament's main committees came out against the U.S.-backed ACTA treaty, which would force European governments to monitor online traffic for possible copyright violations. It was another blow to ACTA, which was flatly rejected on Tuesday by the Dutch parliament. Even if the EU adopts ACTA, Dutch Parliamentarians said, the government of the Netherlands will not ratify it.
In a separate, legal, decision in France this week, YouTube won its copyright infringement case against French broadcaster TF1. The gallic channel had sued YouTube for $175 million in damages related to copyright-protected programming from TF1 that users had uploaded to the video sharing site. But a Paris court ruled that YouTube should not be held responsible for the illegal activities of its users and was not required to control content uploaded to its site. TF1 will now have to pay YouTube parent company Google $100,00 in legal fees related to the case.
HUNT STILL IN THE HOT SEAT OVER BSKYB
U.K. culture secretary Jeremy Hunt faced the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics in London on Thursday and defended his close contact with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. during the regulatory review process of the conglomerate's plan to acquire full control of British pay TV firm BSkyB. Hunt said while he was "sympathetic" to News Corp.'s bid for BSkyB, he was not biased in his government review of the deal. News Corp. dropped its bid for BSkyB amid the phone hacking scandal that engulfed the group's U.K. newspaper holdings and which prompted the Leveson Inquiry.
In further Leveson/News Corp. news this week, British business secretary Vince Cable, who also reviewed the BSkyB deal for the British government, told the inquiry he had faced "veiled threats" from News Corp., suggesting his party, the Liberal Democrats would be "done over" by News Corp. newspapers if he made the "wrong" decision on the BSkyB deal.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair also testified before the Leveson Inquiry this week, where he faced questions about Murdoch and the power of his U.K. media empire.
And the name of Scottish star Sir Sean Connery has been added to the long list of celebrities and other public figures targeted by phone hacking. The former James Bond actor's name was found it notebooks kept by Glenn Mulcaire, the former private investigator of the News of the World tabloid, which has been at the centre of the scandal. British police reached out to Connery but the actor reportedly decided not to follow up or sue News of the World.
ENGLISH SOCCER STILL HOT BUT GERMAN MORE EFFICIENT
England's Premier Soccer, the engine that drives BSkyB's revenues, keeps getting hotter. According to Deloitte's Annual Review of Football Finance, released this week, England's Premier League remains the richest soccer league on the planet, with revenues jumping 12 percentto $3.5 billion (£2.27 billion) in the 2010/11 season. But Germany's Bundesliga, a distant second with only $2.5 billion in annual revenues, outpaced England's top teams in terms of profit, earning a net $240 million in profits, a 24 percent jump, compared to the Premier League's net profit of $106 million.
FRANKENSTEIN INSPIRATION FOR BOYLE'S OLYMPIC OPENER
There won't be any reanimated corpses at the opening ceremonies for this year's Summer Olympics in London but Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle said he has taken inspiration from Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein in staging the show. Organizers said previously that the opening event, expected to cost some $42 million, would be based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Caliban with neck bolts, then?
E1 TALKING ALLIANCE TAKEOVER, LIONSGATE TALKS DOWN QUARTERLY LOSS
Talks of a merger between Canadian film giants Entertainment One and Alliance Films heated up this week after E1 confirmed rumors it was in talks to take over Alliance. A fusion between E1 and Alliance would create a new global indie film powerhouse, with production and distribution operations in North America, the U.K. and Spain.
Meanwhile, fellow Canuck film group Lionsgate - which only recently acquired Twilight producers Summit Entertainment - had some explaining to do after it booked a fourth quarter loss of $22.7 million despite the global success of its new teen fantasy franchise The Hunger Games. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer was quick to reassure investors that the loss was temporary and that mid- and long-term growth forecast look sunny. Feltheimer predicted operating profits (EBITDA) of $900 million over the next three years and that the $500 million term loan the company took out to finance the Summit deal would be paid off on schedule.
In other merger news, Dutch TV group Endemol, producer of Big Brother and Deal or No Deal, is eyeing a possible tie-up with Talpa Media, the production group owned by Endemol co-founder John de Mol and producers of music format The Voice.
Rumors of a possible hook-up between the two Dutch giants have been part of the local media chatter for years, but the buzz got louder Tuesday after Endemol CEO Just Spee told a Dutch newspaper a merger between Talpa and Endemol "makes sense."
BIEBER FEVER HITS OSLO
Meanwhile, Canadian singing sensation Justin Bieber has taken the less sober, more glitzy approach as he jets across Europe this week, shooting footage for his Around The World TV special. Bieber fever reached dangerous levels in Norway, when tens of thousands of the singer's fans swarmed Oslo's opera house to catch a glimpse. Oslo police reportedly were on the verge of declaring a state of emergency and Bieber pleaded with his fans on Twitter to calm down and let him get on with the show.
JAPANESE CENTARIAN DIRECTOR KANETO SHINDO DIES
And finally, on a truly sober note, Japanese director Kaneto Shindo, whose last film Postcard was Japan’s foreign language Oscar entry this year, died at his home in Tokyo Wednesday morning at the age of 100. In his prolific career, which spanned nine decades, Shindo directed 48 films and wrote 238 scripts. Postcard, which Shindo shot at the age of 98 despite being wheelchair-bound, was based partly on the director’s own experience in World War II when he was one of only six survivors of a unit of 100 middle-aged men called up toward the end of the conflict.