Wild Bunch Exec Protests High Costs Of French Filmmaking
An editorial written by Wild Bunch co-founder and sales chief Vincent Maraval has whipped up a mini-storm within the French film industry. The exec, who’s had a hand in such films as The ArtistThe WrestlerPan’s LabyrinthFahrenheit 9/11City Of God and March Of The Penguins, blasted the current state of French cinema, calling 2012 a “disaster”. France enjoys possibly the world’s most generous subsidy system which relies in part on investment by local TV networks, but Maraval says “even the biggest commercial successes lose money” with budgets inflated by above the line costs. Calling France “the world record holder for the average cost of production” after the U.S., Maraval says “French actors are rich from public funds and from a system that protects the cultural exception.” Maraval cites such talent as Vincent Cassel, Jean Reno, Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet and Audrey Tautou and asks why they would “be paid from €500,000 to €2M ($655K to $2.62M) for a French film limited to the French market but when they shoot an American film, whose market is worldwide, they’re happy with €50,000 to €200,000 ($65.5K to $262K)? Why for example does Vincent Cassel act in Black Swan (€226M in global receipts) for €226,000 euros and in Mesrine (€22,6M in global receipts) for €1.5M euros? Ten times fewer receipts; five times more salary. That’s the economy of French cinema.”

Digital Entertainment Sales Cross $1.62B In UK
Britain’s Entertainment Retailers Association has released year-end figures for 2012 with digital sales of music, videos and games crossing the £1B ($1.62B) mark for the first time. Digital downloads grew by 11.4% over 2011 and now account for a fourth of the combined home entertainment market in the UK. The biggest digital sector is videogames which sold £552.2M ($894.6M) worth of downloads. Digital sales of video grew by 20.3% to £97.9M. Sales of physical CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray and video games dropped 17.6% on 2011, but still make up three-quarters of the business. All told, the retail entertainment market dropped off 12% to £4.2B with videogames taking the biggest hit (-17.4%). The ERA said part of the decline was due to suppliers holding titles back over the summer so as to avoid a clash with the London Olympics. ERA director general Kim Bayley suggested suppliers “rebalance their release schedules and improve the quality of their releases.”

Shares in Australia’s Quickflix Rally After Alki David Invests $5.2 Million
There was a record turnover in shares  in online DVD rental and subscription streaming service  Quickflix following news that investors led by billionaire Alki David are injecting  $A5 million ($5.2 million) into the company via a convertible loan and bond agreement. The deal with David’s BluePrint Partners gives Quickflix $1.5 million immediately and two infusions of $1.75 million on or after February 1 and March 1. David, whose holdings include the TV streaming service FilmOn, is battling U.S networks over his streaming service Aereokiller. ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox recently won a tentative court ruling against David’s online streaming of their shows. Quickflix shares have recovered to 3.4 cents from a low of 1.8 cents. – Don Groves

Swedish-Nordic Cinema Chain SF Up For Sale
Swedish media group Bonnier plans to sell its SF cinema chain and has lined up Nordic bank Nordea to advise on a deal that could be worth about 2 billion crowns ($306 million), sources told Reuters. Potential buyers include private equity firms, such as Sweden’s Ratos which owns Finnkino, the biggest cinema chain in Finland and the Baltic countries. Other private equity firms which own or have owned stakes in the theaters include as Terra Firma, Doughty Hanson and Blackstone. Doughty Hanson owns Vue, one of Britain’s largest cinema circuits, which expanded into Europe this year through its purchase of Germany’s Cinemaxx. Terra Firma owns Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, Europe’s biggest movie theater chain, while Blackstone previously owned Cineworld. Another interested party could be BC Partners which was one of the final bidders for Vue before it was sold to Doughty in 2010 and which showed interest in Odeon after that. SF runs 40+ cinemas with about 38,000 seats mostly in Sweden with some in Norway.

‘Silver Linings’ Takes Top Prizes In Capri
Silver Linings Playbook was named Best Film of the Year at Italy’s Capri, Hollywood Festival. The film also won the Capri Audience Award, the acting ensemble prize and a best actor nod for Bradley Cooper. Beasts of the Southern Wild was named Best Surprise Film of the Year and its star Quvenzhane Wallis was named Best Actress. Juan Antonio Bayona was named Best Director for The Impossible and Ariel Vroman was named Best Breakout Director for The Iceman. Other honors bestowed by the festival included the Capri, Hollywood Legend Award to actor Franco Nero, the Capri Cult Award to director Antoine Fuqua and the Best Short Film Award to Edoardo Ponti for The Night Shift Belongs To The Stars which is on the short list for an Academy Award nomination. The European Actress of the Year Award went to Barbara star Nina Hoss.