Dimension goes Extreme straight-to-DVD

Dimension Films, the specialty branch of The Weinstein Company (previously Miramax) has greenlit eighteen straight-to-DVD flicks for its Dimension Extreme label which are budgeted at 3 to 6 million dollars each.

TWC co-chairman Bob Weinstein said the films, mostly sequels, prequels, remakes or spinoffs of TWC/Dimension titles, could debut in a particular ancillary arena — DVD, VOD, TV or the Web — depending on a closer look as they near release.

Thus expect new movies in the worlds of Hell Ride, Children Of The Corn, Midnight Man, Piranha, Halloween, etc…

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Disney to make Arab movies

Walt Disney Pictures, which already produces movies in France, China and India (at least) in addition to their regular roster of American pics, is now eyeing the Arabian peninsula and is in talks to finance The Last Of The Storytellers from Lebanese director Chadi Zeneddine (Falling From Earth), which would mark their first film in Arabic and will likely start filming by the end of next year.

Disney has big plans for the Middle East. The Arab world has a population of some 300 million people, and with two-thirds under age 30, the market is a natural for family-friendly Disney fare. Disney expects to announce two more Arabic-language features in time for the fifth edition of the Dubai Film Festival, which unspools in December.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for us in the Middle East,” said a Disney exec, who insisted on anonymity. “There’s a lot of room for growth for us. It’s the international territory that we’re most excited about expanding into.”

Disney’s arabian move is expected to be followed by other American studios, such as 20th Century-Fox. I can already repeat what I said following Disney’s recent announcement of big Indian plans: I’m really glad American studios are finally seeing the importance of international markets, but I wish they’d use their power to distribute the films they produce in other countries worldwide.

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Exclusive New Trailer and Poster: Roadside Romeo (also Disney’s plans for India)

I apologize for the sometimes hard-to-read subtitles, but it’s from the official website! Roadside Romeo marks Walt Disney Pictures’ first venture into Indian cinema, in co-production with Yash Raj Films, one of the biggest local studios.

Disney must have confidence in the Indian market as, in addition to two more animated features with Yash Raj Films, they’ve begun planning four live-action films on their own, the first two of which are just about ready to begin production.

‘The 19th Step’ starring top South Indian actor Kamal Hassan, directed by Bharat Bala […] will feature Japanese star Asano Tadanabo and Indian actress Asin. Director Bala is one of India’s best-known music video directors. “Step” is said to revolve around the ancient Indian martial arts form Kalarippayattu and will be a multilingual Indian release.

‘Zokkomon,’ starring top child actor Darsheel Safari and directed by Satyajit Bhatkal, is a children’s tale.

As for Roadside Romeo, which opens October 24th, it is written and directed by newcomer Jugal Hansraj, stars the voice talents of Indian stars Saif Ali Khan (Dil Chahta Hai/Do Your Thing), Kareena Kapoor (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…/Happiness & Tears) and Javed Jaffrey (Fire). The film follows a pampered dog who is abandoned by his owner and learns to survive in the streets of Mumbai.

I’m all for American studios producing movies out of the US. Disney is already doing it in China and France, Columbia in India and China, and Warner Bros in France, India and Italy (and those are only the ones I know about). But why stop there? Why not release the movies you make in those movies internationally? Seems like it could only be a win situation wouldn’t it?

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DreamWorks/Reliance deal finalized

Indian businessman Anil Ambani, CEO of the huge Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, and the sixth richest man in the world, recently flew to Los Angeles to finalize the deal between his company and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks, investing more than five hundred million dollars in the American company, thus enabling it to gain its independence and become a full-fledged movie studio.

JPMorgan Chase will provide up to $700 million in financing for the deal, with Reliance providing an additional $550 million, according to The Times of India.

Current DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider will continue his duties for the new studio which will start operations in January and is expected to continue being called DreamWorks. The deal comes after Spielberg & co decided to end their unhappy partnership with Paramount Pictures at the end of their contracts.

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