Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 17 News List

Reel News


Jay Chou helped the Hong Kong film industry from sinking further.


Woody Allen is continuing his self-imposed exile from the US and will make his next movie in Spain, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The as yet unnamed English-language script will be written and directed by Allen for Barcelona-based production house Mediapro, using international and Spanish actors, the report said.

"I'm happy to be able to work with Mediapro and make a film in Spain," Allen said. "I hope that I'll be able to enjoy my stay in Spain, a country that has become very special to me."

Allen's current film Match Point starring Scarlett Johansson, was shot in the UK in 2004, as was its follow-up, Scoop, set for release sometime this year.

Though Americans spent 10 percent more on buying or renting DVDs last year than in 2004, the home video sector nonetheless saw its first drop in over 25 years, according to preliminary figures released last week.

According to the trade publication DVD Exclusive, the DVD and VHS market in the US rewound one percent last year compared with 2004, when the industry reeled in US$24.1 billion.

Though slight, the drop was the first in the home video sector since its inception in the late 1970s.

The dip was attributed in large part to the collapse of the VHS market, where sales were down 60 percent last year from a year earlier. Sales of videocassettes represent just six percent of the home video market.

The rental market also shrunk four percent to US$7.7 billion, and has been on a steady decline after reaching a 2001 peak of US$8.4 billion, according to DVD Exclusive.

The trade publication noted that lower prices were also a factor, with new DVDs sometimes selling for as little as US$1.

Final figures are due to be released later this month.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's film industry suffered its worst year in a decade last year with plunging domestic box office receipts and a decline in the number of local productions, according to figures released Wednesday.

Ticket revenues slumped by a third, grossing US$36.4 million compared with US$54.29 million in 2004, according to Hong Kong's Motion Picture Industry Association.

The industry released just 55 films -- the lowest number in a decade -- and well down on the 64 that hit cinema screens the year before.

Only two local films made the year's top ten earners: car racing action flick Initial D starring Jay Chou (周杰倫) which grossed US$4.88 million and Wait Til You're Older starring heartthrob Andy Lau (劉德華) with US$20.2 million.

Action hero Jackie Chan's (成龍) The Myth proved a major flop, grossing US$2.2 million.

While a plunging box office has left Hollywood and Hong Kong in a sweat, India's Bollywood is breathing easier after four blockbusters by legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan helped reverse its declining fortunes last year.

Bollywood, India's prolific Hindi-language film industry, invested US$230 million in nearly 150 movies last year and ended the year with a loss of around US$29.8 million against losses of US$39.1 million in 2004, according to film analyst Komal Nahta.

With four of the 20 hits recorded at the box office this year to his credit, Bachchan, 63, emerged as the undisputed movie mogul of Bollywood despite a serious ailment in the past few months which has delayed shooting of his new projects.

Judi Dench says she is no intell-ectual and never reads plays, just doing them ``because someone asked me to.''

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