Australia Distribs Confident Of Fast Take-off For UltraViolet
The UltraViolet format launches in Australia on May 1, a joint effort from the majors and independent distributors which they are confident will avoid the pitfalls which plagued the technology’s introduction in the U.S. Key elements of the Australian launch include a unified marketing campaign, the participation of all distributors except Disney, which has yet to join the UV bandwagon, and the support of dominant retail chains, home entertainment retailers and digital download services. The Oz-based working group that includes members of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem Universal, Sony, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Roadshow and Hopscotch eOne, predicts 300,000 Australian homes will sign up for UV accounts by October 31. Australia still has a very healthy DVD rental business, partly because pay-TV penetration is a relatively low 30%, Netflix and Hulu haven’t entered the market and the SVOD business is tiny. U.S. and Australian companies that supply UV back-end services have been pitching the mass merchandisers. Distributors haven’t announced titles for the May launch. The primary target of the marketing campaigns will be families and people aged 25-45, rather than early adopters regarded as less receptive to UV. Distributors hope the ease and convenience of downloading films to multiple devices via UV will reduce piracy. – Don Groves

Argo’ DVDs Are A Hit In Iran: Report
Bootleg copies of Ben Affleck’s Oscar-nominated Argo are making the rounds of Tehran, where the movie is set. The Wall Street Journal reported that the film is “circulating hand to hand and house to house.” Underground DVD sellers say its their best-selling video in years. Argo has also prompted a public debate about the wisdom of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy, which is depicted in the film, and its effect on foreign policy. Culture Minister Seyed Mohamad Hosseini called it an insult and a spokeswoman for the hostage-takers has criticized its representation of events, according to Iranian media reports. Countering that, Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister recently wrote in an Iranian newspaper, “The group of students, by taking over the American Embassy, cornered the Supreme Leader, the revolution committee and the government. The country and the people have paid a very grave price for this.” And, some younger Iranians see the movie as reminiscent of the violent crackdowns against the 2009 election uprisings, the Journal says.

Arclight Films To Sell ‘Cavegirl The Movie’ In Berlin
Music video and commercials director Andy Morahan will shoot Cavegirl The Movie in South Africa this summer from a script by Daniel Peacock. Metropolis Films’ Andy Bell is producing with the picture fully financed through equity investment in the UK and South Africa. Wizards Of Waverly Place‘s Jennifer Stone has been cast with further talent to be announced shortly. Metropolis will co-produce with Spier Films. The Stone Age-set film follows tomboy Cavegirl and her only friend, Boy, who are captured by traders and sold into different families. Ten years later they find themselves reunited by a blazing war that threatens their homes, their families, and themselves. The adventure comedy is aimed at an 8-14 year old audience. Further, Bell says there’s already a sequel in the works.

FremantleMedia Creates New Distribution and Kids & Family Entertainment Division
In what it’s calling a strategic realignment, X Factor producer FremantleMedia will create a stand-alone, global division focused on distribution and kids and family entertainment. The remaining digital, licensing, sponsorship and other ancillary activities that previously fell under FremantleMedia Enterprises will now be handled at the company’s regional production operations. There will also be a new Digital & Branded Entertainment division. David Ellender will transition from the post of global CEO of FME to CEO, FremantleMedia International and Kids, overseeing the new global distribution and Kids & Family Entertainment division.