MGM lands Culkin for ‘Dad’ with $ 8 mil

After weeks of tough negotiations, MGM has scored a major casting coup and inked superkid Macaulay Culkin for a cool $ 8 million to star in helmer Howard Deutch’s comedy “Getting Even With Dad.”

The “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” star will play Timmy the precocious youngster who blackmails his ex-con father into walking the straight and narrow.

The 12-year-old also has a multilayered $ 7 million-plus offer on the table from Silver Pictures to star in comic book-inspired “Richie Rich” for Warner Bros., a deal that is in the final stages of negotiations, sources confirmed.

To get Culkin, “We had to match the $ 8 million WB offer,” Alan Ladd Jr., co-chairman/co-CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, told Daily Variety.

Topper denied the $ 9 million figure previously reported (Daily Variety, March 19) and noted the star’s father and manager Kit Culkin initially wanted $ 10 million. MGM offered $ 6 million, “and we finally decided to split the difference,” per Ladd.

“Dad” will be budgeted between $ 20 million and $ 25 million dependent upon subsequent casting, which Ladd said is under way.

“Pretty in Pink” helmer Howard Deutch begins shooting “Dad” on July 11 in Chicago from a screenplay by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker.

Insiders say Deutch was also being courted by producer Joel Silver to direct “Richie Rich” but chose “Dad” because of its strong script. Ironically, “Dad” scripters Jennewein and Parker have been hired to rewrite “Rich,” sources confirmed. Silver could not be reached for comment.

Comedy will be produced by Katie Jacobs and Pierce Gardner who just wrapped MGM’s film noir spoof “Fatal Instinct” (directed by Carl Reiner), skedded for an August ’93 release.

“Dad” will be produced under the Jacobs Prods. banner. MGM is in final negotiations with Richard Hashimoto to exec produce.

“This is representative of a more expensive type picture that we will become more involved in,” added Ladd in reference to a recent announcement by MGM owner French bank Credit Lyonnais that it would support “substantial new film production” (Daily Variety, March 29).

Terms of the MGM-Culkin deal will see Culkin paid before the pic ever hits the screen. “By time he’s through shooting (“Getting Even With Dad”), he’ll have his $ 8 million,” said Ladd.

Pic will be released in either spring or summer of ’94. MGM will not rush post-production to get the film finished for a holiday ’93 release because of other Culkin pix skedded for fall release, including 20th Century Fox’s “The Good Son.” The “Home Alone” star also will appear in Turner Pictures’ “The Pagemaster” for Fox.

The Culkin pricetag is undoubtedly a result of the overwhelming box office power of both “Home Alone” and the sequel. The original film is the third-highest grossing movie of all time, raking in $ 281.5 million domestically and an additional $ 140 million-plus internationally.

Meanwhile, after 129 days in release, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” had rung up $ 171,599,279 domestically and ranked 19th on the Daily Variety B.O. chart.

Due to his father’s negotiating skills, kid Culkin reportedly also gets 10% of revenues on his pix.

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