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Cinema Line tracks down ‘Ghosthunter’

Cinema Line Films–the new deep-pocketed development company headed by production prexy Stephen Randall–has scooped up the supernatural thriller “Ghosthunter” for a purchase price of $ 300,000 against $ 600,000, sources confirmed yesterday.

Written by Cory Tynan and John Ries, “Ghosthunter” was sent out over the weekend to a number of prospective production companies and producers, including Madonna’s Maverick Films, Patrick Swayze’s Troph Prods. and Gary Lucchesi, who has a development deal at Paramount.

Cinema Line subsequently stepped in late Sunday night and made a bid after the script was submitted to the company’s development executive, Bonnie Abaunza, Sunday afternoon.

The deal was hammered out by Tynan and Ries’ agent, Justen Dardis of APA, and Randall yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Tynan and Ries will receive another $ 150,000 as a co-producing fee.

“Ghosthunter” is described as the story of a psychiatrist who tracks down the ghost responsible for killing his wife.

“It is a riveting, well-written read,” Randall said. “It’s exciting and it will have spectacular special effects.”

According to co-writer Ries, he and his partner will wait to do any revisions to the script until a director is attached to the project.

Randall said the script will go out to directors “right away” and he hopes the film will go into production later this year.

“It’s the kind of film that can get packaged very quickly,” Randall said. “It will attract major talent.”

Ries said he and his partner went for the Cinema Line deal because “they are allowing us certain latitudes and we think this film will get made. If you work with a studio, a lot of times the films sit on a shelf, they languish. We wanted to avoid that.”

Cinema Line Films, underwritten by fashion entrepreneur Leonard Rabinowitz, clothing designer Carole Little and Verna Harrah, tapped Randall as production prexy last December–a move seen by most industry observers as a sign that the company was ramping up its production plans. The purchase of “Ghosthunter,” the first major script buy since Randall took the production reins, is another indication that the company is stepping up its bid to develop and produce properties.

“The fact that the company stepped inquickly and scooped up the script and took it off the market shows how committed they are,” said a studio executive. “I’m sure they are going to continue going after hot properties.”

This is not the first big-ticket purchase price for Tynan and Ries. In 1988, the writers sold another spec script, “Nightland,” for $ 500,000 to Paramount. They also wrote “Born to be Wild” for Propaganda Films.

Agent Dardis has himself been on somewhat of a roll, as this represents his third spec script sale in the last month. In what has been considered somewhat of a downbeat market, Dardis sold “Him” to TriStar for $ 1 million and recently sold “30 Wishes” to Universal for Michael J. Fox to direct for $ 400,000 against $ 600,000.

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