‘Scream’ of relief

Miramax lands O'Connell, settles Sony beef

NEW YORK — Just as Miramax’s Dimension Films prepares to start production in the sequel to its reported $100 million grosser “Scream,” the film company has scored two coups. Dimension head of production Cary Granat landed Jerry O’Connell for the lead male role in “Scream II,” and Miramax has reached a settlement with Sony Pictures Entertainment that will allow it to continue using the film’s title. Miramax lost an MPAA arbitration to SPE, which controlled the title because of a hardly seen Triumph film called “Screamers.”

O’Connell just finished the Fox series “Sliders” and intends to concentrate on a screen career. He was last seen the college quarterback phenom who betrayed Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire” and previously toplined “Joe’s Apartment.” He’ll join Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jada Pinkett, Liev Schreiber and Sara Michelle Gellar in the Wes Craven-directed film. He was repped by William Morris’ John Fogelman, Scott Lambert and Samantha Crisp.

Both Miramax and SPE confirmed that they’d reached a settlement on the title fight, though neither would reveal the accord. SPE had Miramax over a barrel ever since an MPAA arbitration ruled in favor of SPE, which filed a claim shortly after Miramax retitled “Scary Movie” to “Scream” (Daily Variety, April 29). At the time of the judgment, “Scream” was bearing down on the $100 million gross mark and Dimension still had “Scream” on 1,200 screens. Miramax faced having to pay SPE $1,500 per day, per screen. For just that weekend, the fine was nearly the total $6 million gross of “Screamers,” and way more than “Scream” earned that weekend.

Miramax appealed, but before an arbitrator could render a new judgment, the studios did some horse trading to settle the matter. Neither side would disclose what happened — a source said Miramax gave a concession on another outstanding dispute between the studios — but Miramax keeps the title of the biggest franchise it has produced.

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