Sydney Pollack’s Mirage Enterprises, which has been at Paramount Pictures for the past two years and whose latest collaboration “Sabrina” bows this week for the studio, will next get into the feature business with Phillip Noyce, John Sayles, Robert Towne and Agnieszka Holland.
Mirage, which also produced Columbia Pictures’ critically acclaimed “Sense and Sensibility,” unveiled its development slate of 14 projects, three to four of which the company hopes to get into production in 1996.
“I would hope the next picture I direct is ‘Night Manager,'” says Pollack of the project Paramount purchased for him in 1993. “The Night Manager” is John Le Carre’s post-Cold War thriller adapted for the screen by Robert Towne.
Mirage moved to Paramount from Universal in 1994 after Pollack directed Paramount’s megahit “The Firm,” which starred Tom Cruise and grossed $260 million worldwide. The move was kind of a homecoming for president Lindsay Doran, who had been senior VP of production at Paramount before joining Mirage in 1989.
The company has about four months left on its first-look deal. After news of several major high-profile producers switching studios, the town was abuzz last week when Walt Disney president Michael Ovitz was seen having lunch with Pollack. Pollack was a client of former CAA chairman Ovitz.
“It was just a friendly lunch. Michael was my agent for years and years,” Pollack says.
“The past two years have been great at the studio. The lines of communication are quick and efficient. They have been really supportive,” he adds. “Sherry Lansing was a producer herself, so she understands what can be done and what costs money and what doesn’t. The person we work most closely with is (exec VP of production) Michelle Manning. She has taste and we can trust her.”
Mirage toppers Pollack, Doran, VP of creative affairs Geoffrey Stier and inhouse producer Bill Horberg outlined the company’s development plans, which marks the first time Mirage has announced a slate.
* The closest to production is “Nocturne,” a dark thriller about an insomniac accused of a crime he can’t remember. Holland (“Europa Europa” “Total Eclipse”) will direct from a script by Tom Sierchio. Pollack says he hopes to get it before the cameras in March or April.
* The company, together with Staffan Ahrenberg, is actively developing a film version of the Graham Greene classic “The Quiet American.” Noyce is expected to direct the film about a love triangle set in 1950s Saigon, after he wraps “The Saint” for Paramount.
* On the independent front, Mirage is putting together “The Polish Wedding,” based on a script developed at the Sundance Institute, to be directed by first-timer Theresa Connelly. Mirage is in discussions for Lena Olin to star. Mirage is targeting an April start in Detroit. Lakeshore Entertainment will provide financing for “Wedding,” which will produced with Addis/Wechsler.
* “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” based on a book by British mystery writer Patricia Highsmith (“Strangers on a Train”) about a man who changes his identity to pursue a new life. The project will be produced with Tom Sternberg and scripted by Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”). Mirage hopes to shoot the film in Italy in the summer.
In addition, Mirage is creating a four-hour miniseries for ABC based on the work of “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor, with a teleplay by Steve Conrad.
Mirage has a number of other projects in active development at Paramount:
* “Hi-Fidelity,” a black comedy about a romance between a man who cons women and a woman who kills men. The film is based on a 40-year-old original screenplay by Horace McCoy with Scott McGehee and David Siegel doing a rewrite.
The film will be produced with Stuart Cornfeld.
* “American Gothic,” based on the nonfiction book by Gene Smith, tells the story of Junius Brutus Booth and his two sons, Edwin – the famous actor – and John Wilkes. Screenplay is by Steven Katz. Robert Olen Butler will rewrite.
* “Morgan’s Passing,” based on the novel by Anne Tyler, is being produced with Patty Myer, Andrea Newman and Allan Scott.
* “Lily,” a supernatural love story about two brothers who fall in love with the same woman, with only one knowing that she has come back from the dead. From an original screenplay by Scott Frank.
* “The Pinkertons” is C. Gaby Mitchell’s original script about the venerable detective agency.
Mirage also has five films in development at other studios:
* At Universal, the company is developing “For the Love of the Game,” a contemporary love story based on a Michael Shaara novel. The film will be produced in partnership with Amy Robinson. It’s a possible directing project for Pollack.
* At Fox, Mirage is developing “Tom Mix Died for Your Sins,” based on a novel by Darryl Ponicsan; John Sayles is scripting.
* At MGM, the company is developing the medical thriller “The Finding” from Jeffrey Abrams and Jesse Alexander.
* At Warner Bros., Mirage and producer Mark Johnson are developing a project about the love story between publisher George Puttnam and Amelia Earhart. Dana Stevens is rewriting based on a screenplay by Lynn Grossman.
* Also at Warners is “Dark Grace,” a mystical drama. Robert Olen Butler is rewriting an original screenplay by Doug Cole and Colleen Craig.