Paramount Pictures, which at times in the recent past resembled a barren plain instead of the mighty mountain that is its symbol, is jump-starting its production slate.
The studio has revved up 20 projects for release during ’93, hoping to goose those ambitious plans to 25 pix for next year.
Paramount is veering only slightly from its usual course of developing and producing projects in-house. This year it is picking up such projects as “Gilbert Grape,””Bopha!” and possibly the ill-fated Brandon Lee starrer “The Crow.”
And Par has mapped out its usual course of sequels and TV adaptations: “Beverly Hills Cop III,””Addams Family Values,”
“Wayne’s World II,””Naked Gun 3: The Final Insult,””Star Trek: The Next Generation” and another Tom Clancy novel adapted for the screen –“Clear and Present Danger.” Also on the TV remake side are “The Brady Bunch” and “Lassie.”
In embarking on its “tentpole” projects, the studio will try to apply a $ 50 million lid on budgets, offering substantial deferments to talent to restrain upfront payments. Paramount’s philosophy is to depend on its core of contract producers and writers to foster these project.
While the studio hoped to strike box office gold with the “Saturday Night Live” spinoff “The Coneheads,” the Dan Aykroyd-Jane Curtin starrer opened to lower-than-expected numbers.
Regardless of that film’s performance, producers on the lot, as well as agents, talent and entertainment attorneys around town, have high expectations for the aggressive new chairman of the Paramount Motion Picture Group, Sherry Lansing.
“She’s got what it takes to turn this moribund place around,” said one Par producer. “She’s incredibly aggressive, and everyone around here is behind her and her plans. It’s safe to say the ‘ghost’ of Brandon (Tartikoff) has left the premises.”
Tartikoff, the former chairman, resigned for personal reasons in October, following a lackluster reign. Lansing, who had been an indie producer in partnership with Paramount Communications president Stanley Jaffe, was crowned chairman within a week of Tartikoff’s departure and her presence was quickly felt; she gave her production team orders to develop material.
“‘Indecent Proposal’ was her watershed,” said entertainment attorney David Colden of the law firm Weissmann, Wolff, Bergman, Coleman & Silverman. He was referring to the blockbuster Adrian Lyne film Lansing was producing when she was tapped for the top title. “This film rejuvenated the esprit de corps on the lot.”
As it stacks up, Paramount’s upcoming releases include:
- “Searching For Bobby Fischer.” This Scott Rudin project stars Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna and Max Pomeranc and opens Aug. 11. Tale about a prodigy chess player is “Awakenings” scripter Steven Zaillian’s directing debut.
- “The Thing Called Love.” Directed by Peter Bogdanovich and produced by John Davis, the film centers on a group of songwriters and musicians trying to make it in Nashville. Penned by Carol Heikkinen, it stars River Phoenix and Samantha Mathis and cost less than $ 20 million. Project will be released Aug. 27.
- “Bopha!” Morgan Freeman’s directorial debut stars Danny Glover, Alfre Woodard and Malcolm McDowell. It is based on Percy Mtwa’s South African play and will unreel Sept. 24. Arsenio Hall is producing.
- “Gilbert Grape.” Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis and Mary Steenburgen star in this bizarre family drama, due out Oct. 7. Lasse Hallstrom directed.
- “Flesh and Bone.” Produced by Sydney Pollack, Paula Weinstein and the late Mark Rosenberg, pic stars Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. Set in Texas, it centers on a couple traumatized by the murder of a family member. Project, written and directed by Steve Kloves, is set for a Nov. 5 release.
- “Addams Family Values.” In this sequel, Anjelica Huston’s Morticia gives birth. Barry Sonnenfeld is back as director, Scott Rudin is producing, David Nicksay exec producing. It is set as Par’s Thanksgiving release, Nov. 19.
- “Wayne’s World II.” This sequel brings back the two cable show dudes who gave Par one of its biggest and best surprises of recent years. It is budgeted at about $ 30 million and set for release Dec. 10. Steve Surjik directs.
- “Intersection.” This Richard Gere/Sharon Stone starrer was directed by Mark Rydell, produced by Rydell and Bud Yorkin, and exec produced by Frederic Golchan. Marshall Brickman and David Rayfiel scripted.
- “Blue Chips.” First up for ’94, William Friedkin directs Ron Shelton’s screenplay about illegal basketball recruiting. Shelton is also set to produce. Pic stars Nick Nolte, Mary McDonnell and Shaquille O’Neal. It’s set for release in February.
- “The Browning Version.” Mike Figgis directs this take on Terence Ratigan’s play, previously filmed in 1950. Pic, which stars Albert Finney, Greta Scacchi and Matthew Modine, is being produced by Ridley Scott and Mimi Polk-Sotela.
- “Naked Gun 3: The Final Insult.” The third installment in the series, budgeted at $ 30 million, reunites Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley. TV helmer Peter Segal makes his feature directing debut. Set for release in March.
- “Untitled Barry Levinson.” Two out-of-work actors become vigilantes. Joe Pesci and Christian Slater star.
- “Beverly Hills Cop III.” The sequel is produced by the “Patriot Games” team of Mace Neufeld and Bob Rehme. John Landis will direct the script penned by Steven de Souza and rewritten by John Bishop. Eddie Murphy is back as Axel Foley. The budget, originally $ 60 million, has been pared down to the mid-$ 40 million range and is scheduled to roll in mid-September.
- “Clear and Present Danger.” Harrison Ford reprises as CIAspook Jack Ryan. It begins production in October — with Phillip Noyce returning as director — for release next June.
- “Milk Money.” Par paid $ 1 million for John Mattson’s script about young kids who pool their milk money to hire a hooker. Melanie Griffith and Ed Harris star; Richard Benjamin helms.
- “Lassie.” Lorne Michaels produces, Gary Ross wrote the script. A certain collie stars.
- “Forrest Gump.” Robert Zemeckis directs, Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Gary Sinise and Robin Wright star in the pic written by Eric Roth. Wendy Finerman, Steve Starkey and Steve Tisch produce.
- “Nobody’s Fool.” Robert Benton directs Paul Newman in this dramatic comedy set to begin shooting in New York in November for a fall ’94 release. Producers are Scott Rudin, Arlene Donovan and Michael Hausman.
- “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The new crew of the Starship Enterprise replaces the Shatner/Nimoy team in the seventh installment of the studio’s money machine.
- “The Saint.” Robert Evans produces this version of the vintage book/film/TV series. It’s due for release in Christmas ’94.