TriStar gets ‘Weekend’ rights

That dead guy has been resurrected.

TriStar Pictures has closed a deal to acquire all U.S. and Canadian theatrical, video and television rights to director/screenwriter Robert Klane’s “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” from producers Victor Drai and Joseph Perez, sources confirmed.

Produced for a reported $ 15 million, “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” features Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman reprising their roles as insurance salesmen who cannot rid themselves of their dead boss Bernie–played by Terry Kiser.

The production pricetag includes the cost of obtaining sequel rights to the movie from Gladden Entertainment.

TriStar will cover all print and advertising for the domestic theatrical release. Specific terms of the TriStar deal could not be confirmed, though TriStar’s P&A guarantee is estimated to be in excess of $ 10 million.

In cutting the deal, TriStar fills a void in its 1993 release schedule. The studio plans to distribute “Bernie’s 2” to roughly 1,200 screens nationwide in July, when the movie’s teenage-target audience is primed for a no-brainer comedy.

TriStar president of distribution Bill Soady said the studio is confident that the comedy will “stand up to the competition in the summer months”–the period when roughly 40% of all box office receipts are tallied.

To date, TriStar has lined up “Bernie’s 2” and the Memorial Day release “Cliffhanger” for the 1993 summer season.

The original “Weekend at Bernie’s” was released in 1991 and grossed $ 29.4 million at the box office, but TriStar was particularly encouraged by its performance in the homevideo market–250,000 rental units sold. “The awareness of ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ is greater than the box office would indicate,” Soady said.

Producer Drai bought the sequel rights and arranged the independent financing for the project. Drai’s previous credits include the original “Bernie’s,””The Woman in Red,””The Man with One Red Shoe” and “The Bride.”

Drai said he engineered the production of “Bernie’s 2” because he believes it has the the potential to become a viable movie franchise.

He described the first film as “a strange movie in the industry, because it looks like a very small success, but in fact it is a cult classic.”

Foreign rights

Most of the foreign rights to the filmhave been sold. Drai said half of the $ 15 million “Bernie’s 2” budget was covered by foreign presales, including Italy, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

“Bernie’s 2” is the second major acquisition by TriStar in the last six months.

In August, TriStar committed to U.S. and Canadian theatrical distribution of the horror movie “Candyman,” which has so far grossed $ 24,815,280 in domestic theatrical receipts.

The acquisitions have filled TriStar’s pipeline at a time when the studio has struggled for lack of in-house product.

TriStar had just eight releases in 1992, but its recent production and acquisition surge, including deals for “Godzilla,” the script “Him” and Isaac Azimov’s “Foundation Trilogy,” have made it one of Hollywood’s most active buyers and padded out its 1993 release slate to 11.

Filmed in the Virgin Islands and New York City, “Bernie’s 2” was executive produced by Aniola Stella.

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