Carolco Sells ‘Soldier’ Rights To Skyvision

Financially strapped Carolco Pictures, liquidating assets to keep its big-budget features afloat, has sold worldwide TV series distribution rights for the action-adventure film “Universal Solder” to Toronto-based TV Skyvision Entertainment.

If the agreement is structured along the lines of similar projects, Carolco will wind up with a six-figure advance and – should the series be a success – reap millions in royalties.

Skyvision and the IndieProd Co. will initially produce 22 episodes, with the series ready to air by September. Carolco Pictures topper Mario Kassar will receive an exec producer credit.

With ICM packaging agent Bob Sanitsky wrapping up the deal only two weeks ago at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives confab, the companies have yet to secure a domestic distributor or license it to foreign territories.

Sanitsky said there are offers on the table for the show, which is being touted as having strong foreign appeal because of its action-adventure status.

“This is the franchise we wanted and we went after it,” Skyvision president Brian Ross said. “It is a high-concept, futuristic film with a huge built-in audience.”

The big international sales push for the program, based on the feature that grossed $100 million in worldwide box office receipts, will begin at the upcoming Mip and Monte Carlo TV markets.

The producers will pursue all U.S. distribution outlets for “Universal Soldier,” which en compasses the firstrun syndication market, the Big Three networks, Fox, cable and the new United Paramount and Warner Bros, weblets.

No casting decisions have been made yet, but the two stars of the movie, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, will not be involved in the series.

Skyvision has become a major supplier of action series in the U.S., having produced the canceled firstrun Rysher series “RoboCop: The Series” and Buena Vista TV’s “Land’s End,” the heavily cleared Fred Dryer private eye series for fall (both were packaged by Sanitsky).

It also is producing “Picture Windows,” a TV series directed by such noted theatrical directors as Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante and Norman Jewison, as well as the feature film “The Sadness of Sex.”

IndieProd, which has a long association with Carolco, has been primarily involved in theatrical features. Its credits include “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “Footloose,” “Air America,” “Roxanne” and the upcoming “The Quick and the Dead” starring Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman.

The company is close to completing a merger with telepic producer the Konigsberg Co. to create a TV division. IndieProd president Allen Shapiro said “Universal Soldier” is “the best title to put us in that arena.”

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