Orion firms release sked

Orion Pictures Corp. has announced its theatrical release sked for the seven finished films that have been collecting dust while the distrib emerged from bankruptcy. The sked also includes two pickups.

Orion will release the pix at roughly the rate of one per monthfrom September 1993 through May 1994, with the exception of December. “We didn’t feel we had an appropriate Christmas picture,” said Orion prexy/chief executive Len White.

First pic on the list is indie pickup “Boxing Helena,” a platformed release that begins Sept. 3, followed by another negative pickup of the Dan Curtis production “Me and the Kid” in early October.

Penned by Richard Tannenbaum and helmed by Curtis, “Me and the Kid” is tale of an unlikely friendship between a crusty, small-time hood (Danny Aiello) and Gary Feldman (Alex Zuckerman), the unhappy 8-year-old son of a wealthy couple (Anita Morris and David Dukes).

Previously titled “The Taking of Gary Feldman,” comedy centers around a burglary and kidnapping at the Feldman house. Pic will be launched on 100-150 screens in Southern California only.

“We’re going to concentrate all our marketing in one area because it has some breakout potential,” White said.

As reported, Orion will dip into the $ 73 million committed for P&A of its own productions. (MetProductions puts up P&A for “Boxing” and “Kid.”)

Distribution of the dusty seven won’t begin until Nov. 5, with an 1,800 -screen release in the U.S. and Canada of “RoboCop 3,” which was previously pulled from a July 16 slot due to “awesome competition,” White said.

“We looked over our shoulder” at “Jurassic Park,””The Firm” and others, White said, “and felt like Custer.”

“That was enough to make the decision. There weren’t going to be enough screens out there,” White said, admitting none of the seven remaining titles are strong enough to go head-to-head with any of the other studios’ major releases.

White may have learned from the unspectacular B.O. numbers of the company’s first three rapid releases, which had been intended to trumpet the indie’s return (Daily Variety, Jan. 26, 1993).

“Love Field” ($ 900,000), “Married to It” ($ 2 million) and “Dark Half” ($ 9. 5 million as of July 25) have grossed only $ 12.4 million altogether.

And while “RoboCop 3” grossed $ 12 million in Japan and South Korea and had a stellar $ 2 million opening in France, those revenues go to Columbia/TriStar, which distributes Orion’s films in foreign markets. (That deal expires after these seven and does not apply to “Boxing” or “Kid.”)

Director Bill Fishman’s rendition of the 1960s TV series “Car 54, Where Are You?” will finally hit screens Jan. 14. No number of screens are set for this or any of the rest of the pix.

Helmer John Bailey’s “China Moon” will unspool in February. Produced by Barrie M. Osbourne, Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, pic was Tig Prods.’ second after “Dances With Wolves.”

In March, director Donald Petrie’s “The Favor” will hit the market. The Richard Donner/Lauren Shuler-Donner feature stars Elizabeth McGovern, Harley Jane Kozak, Bill Pullman, Brad Pitt and Ken Wahl.

The April release, Martin Short-Charles Grodin starrer “Clifford,” was bumped from a summer release.

“There Goes My Baby” and “Blue Sky” (starring Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones) will both uspool in May.

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