Hess exits TriStar for Pleskow

Creative executive Rick Hess confirmed yesterday that he has ankled TriStar Pictures to accept an equity position and management post at the Pleskow-Spikings Partnership, which was launched in October to produce two to five “event” movies annually.

Hess will be involved in all aspects of development and production for Pleskow-Spikings, as well as foreign sales of the company’s movies in territories not controlled by French financier Initial Group, a $ 50 million-$ 60 million backer in the start-up.

A former real estate developer in Boston, Hess joined TriStar in 1991. His expertise at the studio was foreign investors and filmmakers — an attribute tailor-made for the Pleskow-Spikings plan.

Beverly Hills-based Pleskow-Spikings is headed by former Orion Pictures chairman Eric Pleskow and former Nelson topper Barry Spikings.

The company’s business plan calls for it to provide up to 70% of the financing for the movies it produces in exchange for all foreign rights. Company expects pix to be budgeted in the $ 35 million range and feature big-name talent (Daily Variety, Oct. 14).

In the U.S., Pleskow-Spikings will partner with a major studio for domestic release of its pix in exchange for the remaining production financing. Domestic distribution will be structured in the form of a negative pick-up, giving Pleskow and Spikings autonomy on the production side.

Pleskow-Spikings is expected to announce a domestic distribution deal with a major studio shortly. As reported, TriStar Pictures was considered an early front-runner for the job. The status of those negotiations could not be confirmed late yesterday.

“The real value of a Pleskow-Spikings company in the marketplace is that it allows a studio to expand its production budget and spread the risk,” Hess said. “This is more critical in the current marketplace where an event picture costs upwards of $ 50 million when you factor in the P&A.”

In his new post, Hess will be involved in projects including the Oliver Stone screenplay “Tom Mix and Pancho Villa,” screenwriter David Shaber’s “Chinese Bandit” and Deric Washburn’s “Yamashita’s Gold.” Those projects shape up among the company’s first releases, with start date for its first pic penciled in for September.

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