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Novenber 2002
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TOP 5 U.S.
DISTRIBUTORS

Top 5 domestic distributors as of the end of the month are as follows
(Dollar figures in millions.):

1) SONY
$1352.7
17.87%
2) BUENA VISTA
$1034.9
13.67%
3) 20TH CENTURY FOX
$863.0
11.40%
4) UNIVERSAL
$770.9
10.18%
5) WARNER BROS.
$731.6
9.66%


NO HEADS TO ROLL AT PARAMOUNT

Paramount COO Robert Friedman has denied a New York Post report that said that the studio was considering a shakeup in its marketing department as a result of the failure of two recent films, "K-19: The Widowmaker" and "The Four Feathers." "There's nothing in the report that is correct," Friedman told Bloomberg News. "There's no validity whatsoever."



PREMIERE CUTS STAFF, SHELVES FILMS

Premiere Marketing and Distribution Group has cut its staff by more than half and put its release slate on hold. The company insists it is not out of business and blames the current crisis on a setback in securing funding for prints and advertising. A fund headed by JPMorgan Chase fell through after an unnamed pay cable outlet pulled out of a potential deal. "Slap Her, She's French," a teen comedy starring Piper Perabo that was to be Premiere's first release, has been pushed back now three times because of funding problems. Formed 18 months ago by former New Line executive Mitchell Goldman, Premiere was designed to market and distribute movies but not to fund films.


HEAD OF PROGRAMMING OUT AT BET

BET's Curtis Gadsden, Senior Vice President of Entertainment Programming and Network Operations, has been shown the door. A source said Gadsden was actually escorted from his office by security guards. According to Multichannel News, Gadsden left the company in a creative dispute over the network’s programming philosophy. Others have said it was a dispute over "funny money." Sources told Multichannel News that Gadson had a falling out with chief operating officer Debra Lee over the service’s future programming direction. Gadson spent a decade at BET and was responsible for several of the network’s signature shows, including "BET Walk of Fame" and "The BET Awards."


SONY PLANS $100 MILLION FOR MOVIES IN CHINA

During a visit to Beijing, Sony CEO Nobuyuki Idei said that his company plans to invest $100 million over the next three years in film productions in China. In the English-language Shanghai Daily, Idei told Chinese officials that Sony will shoot an average of five movies a year in China. It's unknown whether the films would be home-grown or would include location shooting for Hollywood blockbusters. Idei also remarked: "Our plan can also benefit the Chinese movie industry as we can help distribute Chinese movies in theaters throughout the world, taking advantages of Columbia Pictures' status as the world's leading movie studio."



RECORD LABEL HIP-HOPS INTO FILMS

Hip-hop record label, Tommy Boy Records, the label with the black and white b-boy logo that was once home to Queen Latifah, De La Soul and Naughty By Nature, has recently opened film and television divisions. Their first film project is "Kung Faux" to be released on DVD. "Kung Faux" is a series of martial arts movies updated with new music and comedic voice-overs by Guru, De La Soul and others. Michael Neumann will head Tommy Boy Films.


BRITISH DIRECTOR BLASTS RELIANCE ON HOLLYWOOD

British director Ken Loach ("My Name Is Joe") has accused the powers-that-be in his country of boosting "violent, aggressive, pro-American" movies, while slighting homegrown product. In an interview with BBC News, Loach, whose latest film, "Sweet Sixteen," notes that it is being given little promotion and marketing compared with Hollywood fare. "You're always having to struggle to get attention because of some trashy American product," he said. Loach also complained about the decision of the British Board of Film Classification to slap an 18 certificate on "Sweet Sixteen" because of the "aggressive use" of four-letter words in the movie. "Now, what are we saying to those 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds who know all the words and hear them every day of their lives? I think the censors have made asses of themselves."


MARKETING COSTS QUESTIONED

The Los Angeles Times has reported that marketing experts have begun questioning the wisdom of studio promotional campaigns which often cost more than the films earn at the box office. "It is obscene," Peter Sealey, a marketing professor at UC Berkeley who headed marketing at Columbia in the mid-1980s, told the Times. "There's no excuse for the consistent overspending ... it's close to corporate fraud." The newspaper pointed out that Columbia spent $50 million to promote its $120-million "Stuart Little 2," which grossed $63 million. When MGM's $110-million "Windtalkers" opened poorly, it noted, the studio's marketing department allocated millions of dollars for "emergency marketing." It didn't work. The film grossed just $41 million, $1 million less than it cost to market. In 10 years, the Times pointed out, marketing costs for the average movie have risen from $12 million to $31 million.