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CRAVEN PACTS WITH MIRAMAX

Wes Craven, the helmer behind the genre-defining pics “Scream” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and producing partner Marianne Maddalena have signed a three film, pay-or-play pact with Miramax Films and its genre banner Dimension Films.

The first film under the deal will be “Scream 2,” which reunites most of the original team behind the recent box office hit: helmer Craven, producers Maddalena and Cathy Konrad, scribe Kevin Williamson, as well as thesps Neve Campbell and Liev Schreiber (two members of the original cast whose characters survived the first pic).

Miramax/Dimension co-chairman Bob Weinstein said “Scream 2” is slated to go before the cameras in June for a possible holiday release.

Weinstein said, “We would love for ‘Scream 2’ to go into the theaters while ‘Scream’ is still playing,” which might be possible considering the cultlike appeal the film has had among teens and young adults around the country. Since emerging from the most recent holiday onslaught, “Scream” continues to draw folks to the theaters and has accumulated more than $85 million at the box office.

Redefining the genre

Noted for its blend of frights and sophisticated parody, the pic has been credited with redefining the horror genre on its way to becoming the biggest grosser ever for Dimension Films and for Craven.

As part of a recent seven-figure deal inked with Dimension, the film’s scribe, Williamson, committed to pen the film’s next two installments, as well as a treatment for a 1998 edition of the “Halloween” franchise, commemorat-ing the horror series’ 20th anniversary.

Weinstein said he expects Williamson’s script for “Scream 2” within the next few weeks.

Weinstein, Cary Granat, senior exec VP, and Neil Sacker, the senior VP of business and legal affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of Miramax/Dimension.

Craven was repped by ICM agents Robert Newman — who also reps Williamson — and Andrea Eastman and at-torney Sam Fisher of Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca & Fischer.

Shifting gears

In the second film of the deal, Craven will segue from his genre roots and take the helm of the Miramax film “Fiddlefest,” a fictionalized take on “Small Wonders,” the Academy Award documentary feature nominee (originally called “Fiddlefest”) that was distributed previously by Miramax.

“Fiddlefest” tells the inspirational story of Roberta Tzavaris, an East Harlem violin teacher who overcame a divorce and established a ground-breaking program teaching inner city children how to play the violin — at the Carnegie Hall concert level.

The film, slated for an early 1998 start, will be produced by Craven and Maddalena in addition to Alan Miller, Su-san Kaplan and Walter Scheuer.

The third project, to be made under the Dimension banner, has not been determined.

“It goes without saying that we couldn’t be happier that Wes is joining the Miramax/Dimension family,” said Weinstein. “Following such a successful venture with ‘Scream,’ both creatively and commercially, we feel fortunate to have Craven and Maddalena return.”

Craven, the creator of such genre fare as “Elm Street” and “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” also recently spooked a $1 million advance out of Simon & Schuster for his first novel, whose working title is “The Fountain Society,” to be published in fall 1998.

As far as the “Scream” sequel, Craven said, “We’ll try to do it with the same wit and irony and innovation of the first film and go it one better.”

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