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Par, Peter Hoffman in 4-pic pact

New finance and production company 7 Arts, formed by former Carolco president Peter Hoffman and producer Neil Canton, has taken a one-third equity position in four upcoming Paramount Pictures films, sources said.

The company, whose executives include Hoffman’s wife – producer Susan Hoffman – and actress Colleen Camp, also has signed a non-exclusive first-look distribution deal with Paramount (Daily Variety, Oct. 10).

The deal calls for 7 Arts to put up one-third of the films’ production budgets in exchange for a share of the proceeds, after Paramount recoups its marketing and distribution costs.

Neither 7 Arts nor Paramount was available for comment.

The four projects are Par’s “Beautician and the Beast” starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton, due out in mid-February; the Peter Weir-helmed “The Truman Show,” starring Jim Carrey and Dennis Hopper; Paul Anderson’s sci-fi thriller “Event Horizon” starring Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill; and “The Magic Hour,” with Susan Sarandon and Paul Newman.

Money genius

Hoffman, an expert in overseas film finance, reportedly is using a combination of foreign investments and bank financing to drum up 7 Arts’ share of the budgets.

At the same time, 7 Arts also plans to finance its own projects, which Paramount may distribute. However, unlike Paramount’s arrangement with Rysher, the studio is under no obligation to distribute any of 7 Arts’ films.

In recent years, Paramount has increasingly turned to split-rights, equity co-financing and negative pickup arrangements in an effort to minimize its downside risks. Through deals with Fox, Buena Vista, Rysher, Douglas-Reuther, Spelling, Dino DeLaurentiis, Lakeshore, and Gary Levinsohn and Mark Gordon’s Cloud Nine, nearly all upcoming Paramount releases with budgets greater than $20 million involve some degree of co-financing.

Hoffman recently was indicted on federal tax evasion charges for allegedly failing to report money he received from Carolco in 1989 (Daily Variety, Dec. 19).

Staying busy

After leaving Carolco in 1992, Hoffman formed CineVisions, which was involved in co-financing TriStar’s “Never Talk to Strangers” and “Johnny Mnemonic.” He also was partnered with Mike Medavoy in the early stages of Phoenix Pictures.

Canton, the brother of former Columbia-TriStar chairman Mark Canton, produced the three installments of Universal’s “Back to the Future” franchise, as well as Columbia’s “Geronimo: An American Legend” and “Money Train.”

Susan Hoffman’s producing credits include Buena Vista’s “Before and After,” directed by Barbet Schroeder.

Recent screen roles for Camp include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “The Baby-Sitters Club” and “House Arrest.” She is married to Paramount Motion Picture Group production president John Goldwyn.

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