news digest


U.S. fare tops French boxoffice

PARIS — French filmgoers treated themselves to a large portion of "Ratatouille" and other U.S. fare in 2007. Stateside films took a 49.9% market share at the Gallic boxoffice compared with 36.5% for local movies, according to annual estimations by French film body the CNC. The Paris-set U.S. animated hit "Ratatouille" was the audience favorite, selling 7.7 million tickets.

'Debaters' heads to Berlin film fest

NEW YORK — Denzel Washington's drama "The Great Debaters" has been invited to next month's Berlin International Film Festival as a featured presentation. The Berlin spot marks the latest in a string of good luck for the film from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Prods. It led the pack with eight nominations at the 39th NAACP Image Awards announced Tuesday and is nominated for best drama at this weekend's Golden Globes.

'Kane' quintet set for helmer Bassett

PARIS — Max von Sydow, Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Alice Krige and Mackenzie Crook have joined the cast of the adventure film "Solomon Kane," producer Samuel Hadida said Tuesday. Michael J. Bassett ("Deathwatch") will direct from his own script for Hadida's Davis Films and Paul Berrow's Epic Tales.

Showtime goes 'Dark' again

Showtime has greenlighted a second season of "Big Brother: After Dark," a look inside corporate sibling CBS' "Big Brother" house after the network primetime cameras have been turned off. Starting Feb. 12, "After Dark" will feature a live feed from the "Big Brother" house from midnight-3 a.m., seven days a week, on the cable network's SHO2 multiplex channel.

IAC set to spin in second quarter

IAC/InterActiveCorp expects a spinoff of four of its units to be completed in the second quarter of the year, likely early in the summer, CEO Barry Diller said Tuesday. IAC announced in November plans to spin off four of its units — shopping network HSN, online mortgage broker LendingTree, Ticketmaster and subscription business Interval. Diller told a Citi investor conference that he plans to focus his attention on the operations of the remaining IAC business, online travel company Expedia, and likely would take some role in Ticketmaster after the spinoff.

Deluxe takes on Rainmaker

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group has completed the acquisition of Rainmaker Income Fund's postproduction and visual effects business in Vancouver and its visual effects operation in London. The acquisition does not include Rainmaker's animation business in Vancouver. With the deal — an estimated value up to $31 million — Deluxe gains laboratory, post and visual effects capabilities in Vancouver, as well as grows its London operations to include visual effects. The Vancouver operations will now operate under the name Deluxe Vancouver.