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Pix chief gets five-year pact

After months of negotiations, Tom Pollock has signed on for five more years as executive VP of MCA Inc. and chairman of the company’s motion picture division.

Pollock will also become more directly involved in charting the company’s growth, especially in the international and video-on-demand markets.

The question of when Pollock would sign a contract has been at issue for a long time and has created a sense of ambiguity at the studio; U film division prexy Casey Silver put off signing a new contract pending the outcome of Pollock’s negotiations. Now that Pollock’s contract has been settled, sources report that execs will turn their attention to Silver.

As part of his new contract, Pollock will become an MCA-nominated member of the Cineplex Odeon Corp., stepping into a role previously performed by MCA prexy Sid Sheinberg.

The move follows by days the promotion to exec VP of MCA music entertainment group chairman Al Teller. And the announcement came one week after Universal’s “Schindler’s List” and “Jurassic Park” together garnered ten Academy Awards.

“Tom’s expanded responsibilities will involve his participating importantly in the company’s activities as one of a small handful of people responsible for the future growth and management of the company,” Sheinberg said in a prepared release.

Just where that growth will happen within the MCA corporate being is yet to be determined, according to Pollock, but it won’t be in the number of films it puts out yearly. U releases about 20 films annually.

“We don’t believe in movies as a volume business,” Pollock said Monday. “We will not turn out movies by the pound. Each one has to be good and marketable on its own terms.”

In fact, Pollock said the studio has been very happy with its basic strategy of keeping to a few event films each year, mixed with a larger number of smaller-budgeted films.

“We’ve been very lucky with that policy, because it allows us to keep our average film costs well below the MPAA average,” Pollock said. Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti recently said the average cost of making a film had risen to about $ 30 million.

In terms of the larger, event movies, U scored a coup this past year with “Jurassic Park,” which has become the highest-grossing film of all time with $ 690.4 million. This year’s hoped-for event film will be “The Flintstones,” followed in 1995 by “Waterworld.”

“If every film you made cost $ 30 million, then you’d have to make $ 50 million just to break even,” Pollock said. “We’re much more interested in making films for $ 10 to $ 20 million, such as ‘In the Name of the Father’ or ‘Reality Bites,’ where the break-even is much lower. And at that price you can still make really good movies.”

Pollock said he will be more involved in the international market because of the growth potential. As for video-on-demand, he said: “It’s going to happen, but it will be consumer-driven. Which means it won’t happen as soon as people are predicting.”

Pollock, an attorney, joined MCA in 1986 as head of the motion picture group, moving up to exec veepee (with a seat on the board) in 1989. During that tenure the studio has put out such films as “Field of Dreams,””Twins,””Parenthood, “”Born on the Fourth of July,””Do the Right Thing,””Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Scent of a Woman,” in addition to this past year’s hits –“Schindler’s List, “”In the Name of the Father” and “Jurassic Park.”

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