week in review digest


Warners bags a billion overseas

Warner Bros. Pictures International said Thursday that it topped $1 billion at the overseas boxoffice for a sixth consecutive year, further demonstrating the industry's comeback after 2005's Year of the Slump (HR 11/13). Warners becomes the fourth major studio to hit the $1 billion mark this year, joining Buena Vista International, 20th Century Fox International and Sony Pictures Releasing International. Warners, the full-year leader in 2005 with $1.89 billion, was in fourth place at the end of August with $850 million but cited the rollout of such films as Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" and Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" for bolstering its overseas standing. The company's leading overseas grossers this year include "Superman Returns" with $191 million; "Poseidon," $121 million; "The Lake House," $63 million; and "V for Vendetta," $62 million.

HBO, BBC movies for Poliakoff

British writer-director Stephen Poliakoff is set to do two films for HBO Films and the BBC (HR 11/10). The companion pieces, one starring Michael Gambon and one starring Oscar winner Maggie Smith, are set in the same dark and moody house. Poliakoff wrote the scripts and is directing the movies, which have begun filming in London. TalkbackThames is producing. In addition to the house, the two films are linked by Joe (newcomer Danny Lee Wynter), a young man from whose perspective the stories are told.

Weinstein Co. picks 'Blueberry'

The Weinstein Co. has nabbed all U.S., Australian and New Zealand rights to Wong Kar Wai's romantic comedy "My Blueberry Nights," starring Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Tim Roth and Natalie Portman. "Blueberry" marks Wong's English-language feature debut as well as the feature film acting debut of singer Jones, who plays a woman taking a long road trip to find true love. The feature, filled with eccentric characters she meets along the way, was shot on location across the country in the summer.

BVITV, BT ink VOD deal

LONDON — Buena Vista International Television has signed a video-on-demand rental output deal with U.K. telecom giant British Telecom, which is due to launch its BT Vision television, broadband and on-demand platform soon (HR 11/10). BT Vision customers will have on-demand purchase access to features from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone and Miramax. The nonexclusive deal will make such titles as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Scary Movie 4" available to BT Vision customers.

Col's Robinson tapped for CineAsia prize

Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia managing director Barbara Robinson will be feted with the new Visionary Award at the annual CineAsia convention in Beijing, set for Dec. 5-7. Robinson joined the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group in 1988 to start the division and develop, produce and acquire local-language feature films. Her award-winning successes include Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."