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‘Carnival’ exex pitch joint tent

The executive producers of Amblin Entertainment’s animated feature “Carnival” have formed a new development company, Bennington Prods., with three features ranging from $ 1 million to $ 30 million in the works.

Julian Schlossberg’s Castle Hill Prods. and Meyer Ackerman’s Ackerman Enterprises will remain separate entities from their new joint Bennington venture, according to Schlossberg.

“I’d like to do bigger-budget movies and smaller-budget movies,” said Schlossberg, whose 10 previous films include the concert documentary “No Nukes,” which features the only film performance by Bruce Springsteen.

‘Carnival’ first

The first pic the company will co-exec produce is “Carnival,” previously confirmed by Amblin and Universal Pictures (Daily Variety, June 25). The $ 30 million production starts in early ’94.

“The point isn’t (just) to produce pictures but to develop things for other people to produce. For instance, when we got the rights to ‘Lili’ and ‘Carnival, ‘ we always wanted Steven (Spielberg), who is committed to produce and possibly direct,” Schlossberg said.

“It’s just like a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story, where a young beautiful French girl falls in love with the puppets and not the puppeteer.”

Year’s work

Schlossberg said he and Ackerman took a year to acquire the rights to both “Carnival”– which opened on Broadway in 1961 and ran for 719 performances — and “Lili,” the 1953 film from which the play was adapted.

Schlossberg said Bennington retains the rights to the stage version of “Carnival,” and the partners plan to revive the play for a national tour and a Broadway production within the next two years.

The Bennington duo also are exec producers on “Widow’s Peak,” a$ 7 million comedy/drama with a cast including Mia Farrow, Natasha Richardson, Joan Plowright and Adrian Dunbar.

Three get reins

Schlossberg and Ackerman got the project running, then handed over the producing reins to Steve Mackler, Jo Manuel and helmer John Irvin (“Hamburger Hill”). Pic is skedded for a July 19 launch. Fine Line has domestic rights and Rank has all other international rights.

Bennington is also editing “Bad Girls,” a$ 1 million feature about prostitutes that stars its writer/director Amos Kollek, best-known for writing, directing and starring in “Double Edge” with Faye Dunaway and “Goodbye New York” with Julie Hagerty.

August street date

The screenplay is “based on interviews with real street hookers,” who star in the film along with professional actresses, explained Schlossberg, who produces. World rights are available and pic will be ready in August.

Schlossberg and Ackerman also are veterans of exhibition and jointly owned a cinema 20 years ago in Bennington, Vt. They also jointly own the 15-year-old distib company Quartet Films Inc., which did “Breaker Morant.”

Exhib experience touted

Schlossberg figures his background in exhibition will pay off for Bennington.

“There haven’t been that many people from distribution or exhibition who have gotten into production,” he said.

“But they’re in a good position to make the transition to producing because of having dealt day in and day out, year in and year out with an audience. You hope you have some kind of intrinsic feel of what people will buy.”

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