Sony Pictures Classics Buys Venice Competition Title 'Never Look Away'. SPC nabs Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's film for North America, Latin America, Australia/New Zealand and Scandinavia. Sony Pictures Classics, the distributor that released Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Oscar-winning debut The Lives of Others, has jumped on the German director's latest, Never Look Away, taking the drama for multiple territories, including North America. SPC picked up rights to the psychological thriller from German sales outfit Beta Cinema in North and Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia ahead of its world premiere in competition at the Venice International Film Festival. Never Look Away stars Tom Schilling, Paula Beer, Sebastian Koch, Saskia Rosendahl and Ina Weisse in an epic period drama spanning three eras of German history. Schilling stars as a young artist who flees from East to West Germany but remains haunted by his childhood under the Nazis and his youth suffering under communism. Once in the West, he begins to work through his, and his generation's trauma, through his paintings. Never Look Away will have its world premiere in Venice before heading to Toronto where it will have a special presentation. Von Donnersmarck produced Never Look Away together with Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann of Wiedemann & Berg Film production, Beta Cinema's Jan Mojto and Christiane Henkel von Donnersmarck. SPC did the domestic release for The Lives of Others (2007) which grossed $11.28 million in North America and won Donnersmarck the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. His Hollywood follow-up, Sony Pictures' The Tourist (2010), starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, was a commercial success, earning $278 million worldwide, but was largely panned by critics. (Hollywood Reporter)

Danny DeVito to Get San Sebastian Festival Honor. He will get the Donostia Award for career achievements at the Spanish festival and present his new film 'Smallfoot.' Danny DeVito will get the Donostia Award, honoring the star for his career achievements, at the 66th edition of the San Sebastian Festival. He will get the award at the Spanish festival on Sept. 22. The following day, he will present the film Smallfoot. "The award recognizes a career of almost five decades related to acting in theater, film and television, telling stories as an actor, producer and director," the festival said. "The Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner is known for his roles in television series Taxi and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and movies such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Terms of Endearment, Romancing The Stone, Twins, Ruthless People, and Tin Men." Added San Sebastian festival organizers: "He has also directed and starred in hugely emblematic films, including The War of the Roses (1989), Hoffa (1992), Death to Smoochy (2002), Throw Momma From the Train (1987), Curmudgeons (2016), Duplex (2003), The Ratings Game (1984), and The World's Greatest Lover (1977)," as well as producing films by Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh and Milos Forman. DeVito has also used his voice talent for animated films, including Space Jam, Hercules, The Lora and his new film Smallfoot. The San Sebastian festival, which last week added to its competition lineup, runs Sept. 21-Sept. 29. (Hollywood Reporter)

German Box Office Drops 15 Percent in First Half. The soccer World Cup and a record-hot summer hurt the performance, but local films were strong, accounting for 22 percent of total admissions. A record hot summer and competition from the soccer World Cup caused the box office to wilt in Germany, with overall revenue falling 15.3 percent in the first half of this year to $502.7 million (439.1 million). Official figures released Monday by the German Federal Film Board painted a grim picture, with a similar 15 percent drop in overall admissions. Just 51 million tickets were sold in the first half of 2018, more than 9 million fewer than during the same period last year. Disney's Avengers: Infinity War was the top-grossing title of the year to date, pulling in 3.3 million German fans with a total box office of more than $44.5 million. Universal took the second and third spots on the overall list, with Fifty Shades Freed ($33.7 million) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($29.5 million). German Film Board chair Peter Dinges blamed the scorching weather and soccer for keeping fans out of theaters but admitted there were few big hits so far in the country among this year's releases. One bright spot were local-language features, which drew 11.3 million admissions over the first half, nearly a million more than in the same period last year. German features -- including children's film Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver ($12 million) and The Little Witch ($11.9 million), and dramedy This Crazy Heart ($19 million) -- accounted for 22.4 percent of total admissions over the first half, up from 18.2 percent in the first half of 2017. But there are indications that the German market could be ripe for consolidation, not least because the screen count (4,812 screens in 1,671 locations) is the highest it's been in a decade. Observers also point to a flood of new releases, few of which managed to find a significant audience. There were fewer U.S. releases in the first half of this year in Germany -- 70 new films, compared to 87 in the first half of 2017 -- but a total of 119 local releases over the same period, against 120 over the same period last year. With overall box office falling and ancillary revenues shrinking in Germany, it's clear something has to give. (Hollywood Reporter)

Kuwaiti Exhibitor Unveils High-End Cinema Brand Ahead of Saudi Launch. The revamped Cinescape brand will be rolled out across all its sites. The Kuwait National Cinema Company has unveiled a new brand for Cinescape Cinemas, its Kuwait-based exhibition arm. The revamped brand, which was launched to coincide with the opening of a new multiplex, will be rolled out across all Cinescape locations, and comes as the exhibitor prepares to launch in the emerging cinema market of Saudi Arabia. "Kuwait National Cinema Company is making significant investment to enhance the movie-going experience, with plans to increase the number of its cinemas to more than 105 across the whole of Kuwait by 2022," said Khaled Issam Al-Marzouq, KNCC business development manager. "All of our theaters will be equipped with cutting-edge designs and technology for an innovative experience that exceeds visitors' expectations. After all, Kuwait is the second-largest theatrical market in the region." Earlier this year, Cinescape revealed that it was eyeing the nascent Saudi market for expansion and was in negotiations to open 27 screens in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman by the fourth quarter. It joined a throng of exhibitors announcing their intentions to launch in the country since it dropped a 35-year ban on public cinemas in late 2017, including AMC, Vue, iPic and regional chain Vox. So far, however, only AMC and Vox have opened screens, with the industry still facing considerable uncertainty about how the Saudi cinema business will be run following reports that it could install a single, government-controlled entity as the sole distributor of films. (Hollywood Reporter)


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