in focus


A new starter in the field of old- school distribution and a fresh approach to filmmaking may end up being a good test bed for market conditions.

Recently launched Worldwide Bonus Entertainment is a startup U.K. company aiming to house publishing, distribution and music supervision operations. WBE recently staged a world premiere in London for its inaugural release, "Three and Out." Starring Mackenzie Crook of the BBC's "The Office," screen favorite Colm Meaney, a big cameo by Imelda Staunton and the latest Bond girl, Gemma Arterton, "Three" is the first release from the startup.

Everything about the movie and the distribution uses the word "private." The U.K. production banner Rovinge Motion Picture Co., who made "Three," collected the cash from private investors. The U.K. distributor WBE, which has a multipicture deal with Rovinge, is fueled by private investment. But the distributor is certainly not hoping the film itself remains private.

WBE chief Mark Gottlieb, a former advertising and marketing guru, told THR he is looking forward to the challenge of establishing a distribution entity in the U.K. from scratch.

Gottlieb's company also is planning to publish a book tie-in and a soundtrack album through WBE's publishing unit with songs from artists including Elvis Costello, Blondie, Billy Bragg and the Pogues. "We know it's cutthroat out there, but we are all really excited about this film and know it has to stand up for audiences," Gottlieb said. "Our objective is to make the rollout feel like it is a big studio film being released."

At the other end of the movie lifespan is a group of filmmakers from Liverpool who are shooting "Starstruck."

The movie, written by Leigh Campbell, directed by Lindy Heymann and produced by Andy Stebbing, is the third and final film to be commissioned through the Digital Departures initiative.

The plan aims to see three films funded, made and premiered in Liverpool as part of the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations in the city. The idea was devised by Northwest Vision and Media with its partners Liverpool Culture Co., the BBC and the U.K. Film Council.

Shooting on the £250,000 ($491,000) "Starstruck," about two teenage girls who bond over a mutual crush on a footballer, ends in May, almost a year to the day since the deadline for the Digital Departures submissions.

Said Lisa Marie Russo, executive producer of all three Digital Departures films: "It's been an incredibly quick turn-around — in feature film terms — and it's full credit to the Digital Departures team and all the filmmakers involved."

Time will be the judge on both ventures.

Stuart Kemp can be reached at