FILM / Rushes

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The Independent Culture
An odd sight in this week's US box-office charts (see opposite). Positions one to nine are filled as usual with standard Hollywood fare - Honeymoon in Vegas, Single White Female, 3 Ninjas, etc. - but at No 10, flying the flag for British cinema, is Mike Newell's gentle, period drama Enchanted April. April is showing at an impressive 274 cinemas and, in just six weeks, has taken over dollars 1.6 million. It's odd because the film, which was made for the BBC's Screen Two series and stars Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker and Joan Plowright, was panned by most British critics and received only the smallest of UK releases - seven weeks at one West End cinema, the Curzon, and showcases around the country. The manager of the Curzon reported that even in its short residency at his cinema, the film 'didn't do that much - even on its best night, only 185 of our 600 seats were taken'. So how can Enchanted April's dismal UK performance be squared with its American success? A spokeswoman for Mayfair Entertainment, the film's UK distributor, explained: 'I think the advertising in America was what made the difference; they hooked it to Howards End, saying 'if you liked that, you'll love Enchanted April'. We'd love to try it again over here but it's already been shown on TV . . .'

The first British edition of Premiere hits news-stands next Wednesday, which sounds like good news for fans of the American movie mag but may prove to be something of a mixed blessing. The snag is not that the British version will feature much of the same material as its powerful American sibling (at least 75 per cent according to the magazine's publishing director, Susan Lyne), but that the reprinted features and interviews will be 'remixed to coincide with movie release dates in the UK'. What this appears to mean - although copies of the launch issue have not yet been made available - is that the 10,000 British fans of the magazine's US edition will now be forced to make a choice between forking out for articles they've already read, or else paying again for the imported original.

Early details of this year's 36th London Film Festival were announced this week. The final line-up has yet to be settled, but highlights so far include screenings of Nora When Harry Met Sally Ephron's This Is My Life; Sarafina, a BBC co-production starring Whoopi Goldberg; Barry Primus's Mistress, starring Robert de Niro; and Liv Ullman's directorial debut, Sofie. A new feature this year will be the pounds 10,000 Tennents Gold Bier award for the 'most popular' British film. The Festival runs from 5 to 22 November, and all screenings are open to the public.