There’s potentially a new tiger in the jungle of low-budget movie production, as 11-year-old TV specialist Kushner-Locke Co. is trying its hand at several pix in the $ 2 million to $ 4 million range, company execs said Friday.The Los Angeles-based company garnered $ 14.5 million in production financing through an 8% convertible debenture offering that closed last week. Combined with co-financing and distribution arrangements with the Time Warner Inc. division A*Vision Films and Mark Damon Prods. Inc., the capital augments Kushner-Locke’s bid to produce six low-budget movies by the end of the fiscal year in September, according to co-chairman and CEO Peter Locke. The year-old KL movie division already has wrapped the Robbie Benson/Laura Johnson teamer “Deadly Exposure,” is in post-production on the Eric Roberts starrer “Sensation” and has started rolling on the action piece “Lady in Waiting.” And Lawrence Mortorff has been shifted from a consultant position to KL features president to spearhead the company’s production effort. Locke announced that KL will round out its first low-budget slatewith another trio of straight-ahead genre pix — an untitled vampire movie written and directed by Matthew Bright (“Gun Crazy”), screenwriter Nick Stone’s “Spring Break” and the June production start of the horror/thriller pic “The Outpost.” “As a start-up company in this business, we want to go with safe genres in international markets,” said Locke, explaining the company’s emphasis on action and horror. He added that the company is “looking for new directors, writers and stars, people who haven’t made it yet. They might not even be on the radar screen. Hopefully through good working relationships they’ll become members of our family. And we’ll grow together.” An example of KL’s willingness to tap new talent is “The Outpost,” which will be produced by newcomer Jonathan Craven — son of director/producer Wes Craven. Written by Phil Mittleman and Jonathan Craven, the horror pic, about a family trapped in a Mojave desert outpost and stalked by a mutant killer, will be exec produced and presented by Wes Craven — a marketing hook attractive to KL. Locke also predicted that the company would either acquire or start its own international theatrical distribution/sales arm within six months. In addition, the company has also inked a non-exclusive deal with newcomer Whirry, who stars oposite Michael Nouri and Robert Costanzo in “Lady in Waiting.”I noted this out; there is no first reference to Whirry; have a call in to Frook, however Locke, whose emphasis is on production while co-chairman and president Donald Kushner focuses on legal and financial matters, said KL has no aspirations to get into arthouse fare. He said the risk attached to its untitled vampire pic is reduced significantly because it will be keyed to Warner Bros.’ “Interview with the Vampire.” “The marketing hook on that one is follow the leader,” said Locke. “If we were in this business three years ago, and knew ‘Jurassic Park’ was coming out, we certainly would have done a dinosaur movie.” While the international market is the primary emphasis on KL’s movie bid, Locke acknowledged that a few pix will be targeted for the United States. He said screenwriter Nick Stone’s campy comedy “Spring Break,” which will go out to cast in four weeks, is the first of a set of youth-oriented bikini comedies earmarked for the U.S. “Comedy is extremely regional and subjective,” Locke said. “It’s tough to translate a Jewish joke into French, or an Italian insult into German. But generally we’re trying to travel with movies that have international acceptance.”
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