‘Domino’ falls to Scott Free

Director Tony Scott’s next directing gig and “Leaving Las Vegas” star Elisabeth Shue’s next role are two of the major projects that Scott Free Prods. has unveiled in its bid to redefine the role of a producer in Hollywood.

Domino,” a thriller about a female bounty hunter, will be Scott’s next directing job. His last was “The Fan” from TriStar Pictures and Mandalay Entertainment.

Scripted by Steve Barancik (“The Last Seduction”), pic is inspired by the true story of Domino Harvey, a former Ford Agency model who became a pistol-packing female bounty hunter. Pic will be financed through the joint split-rights four-pic deal that Scott Free has with Disney, Largo and Britain’s First Independent.

Shue is attached to star in “Where the Money Is,” a comedy that will be helmed by Marek Kanievska (“Less Than Zero,” “Another Country”).

Scott Free and Chuck Weinstock are producing the $12 million effort, which will be financed by Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s Intermedia. Pic will be the second of a two-picture deal that Scott Free has with Intermedia for films in the $10 million-$15 million budget range.

Both pics are part of a grand scheme for British director/producer brothers Ridley and Tony Scott to create a commercial, video, film and TV entity that at once reshapes their roles as producer and harks back to the studio system of the 1950s.

Not content with a simple studio production deal, the Scotts have assembled three major media divisions, with the jointly financed Scott Free Prods. handling feature film projects and TV development; the independent Ridley Scott & Associates (RSA) overseeing a commercial division that churns out nearly 200 blurbs a year; and Black Dog Prods. for musicvideos.

A year and a half into a split-rights deal with Disney and Largo, Scott Free is unveiling its slate of major pictures and low-budget projects that the Scott brothers are both producing and directing. “G.I. Jane,” which is in post-production for Disney and stars Demi Moore, is the first and is expected to come out this fall from Buena Vista.

Along with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London, they bought and renovated London’s Shepperton Studios.

The RSA ad division, which has been around for more than 30 years, has its own stable of some 25 young commercial and video directors who are moving rapidly into features that Scott Free will produce and ideally shoot in their own studios.

The goal, Tony says, is to allow for as many opportunities for their directors in as many areas as possible. The result is the framework for a mini-studio that will ultimately be able to finance, produce and shoot features with its choice of inhouse directors.

“What Ridley and I have done,” Scott said, “is something that I always wanted to do and never had the machinery there to do it. I think it really does make one a better director or gives you a broader coverage with all these media.”

‘Raring to go’

Ridley adds: “When I started, TV commercials weren’t exactly a good calling card to get movies made. Now, times have changed. We have a substantial group of directors raring to go.”

Starting in 1979, the Scotts have both become top-notch action-thriller helmers — Ridley with such pics as “Alien,” “Blade Runner” and “Thelma and Louise”; Tony on “Crimson Tide,” “True Romance” and “Top Gun.”

The Disney/Largo pact now provides them with a discretionary fund of some $4 million, as well as production cash to do major big-budget releases. Disney retains domestic rights, while Largo handles foreign and First Independent takes rights in Great Britain.

The goal, says Scott Free president Chris Zarpas, is to make five films a year, some in the $15 million-$20 million range and some $40 million and above. The company also wants to have a TV series shooting, as it does now with “The Hunger” for Showtime.

“We have a long-range plan to substantially increase our production capacity,” Zarpas says. “It’s our intention to do that with our existing partners.”

The lineup

Under Zarpas and senior VPs of production Diane Minter and Christopher Dorr, the company has put together a slate of major features:

* “Lucky Strike,” written by David Veloz, who is also scripting a remake of “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” for Oliver Stone. The film tells the true story of a team of international jet thieves who heist a big bird and then look to the black market. Scott Free developed the project and will produce along with Bill MacDonald.

* A project about a champion kickboxer named Pete Cunningham. Scott Free hopes to create a franchise out of Cunningham, who is 50-0 as a kickboxing welterweight. Ben Ramsey (“Blunt Force” and a remake of “The Mack” for 20th Century Fox) is scripting. Scott Free, Tino Magnatta and Dan Harris are producing.

* “Button Man,” written by Ray Rumble, about a Las Vegas hit man and his young apprentice. Scott Free will produce with Banner Entertainment’s Steve Levinson, who brought the project to the Scotts.

* “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” written and directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s a low-budget gangster movie set in London. Matthew Vaughn will also produce with Scott Free.

* “RKO 281,” the story of the behind-the-scenes battle between Orson Welles and media titan William Randolph Hearst on the making of “Citizen Kane.” John Logan is scripting.

* “In Too Deep,” a sexy, comic film noir. Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix are set to star. David Dobkin, an alumnus of the RSA video and ad division, is set to direct.

On the TV side, the pair is developing two major series:

* The company is now shooting episode 13 of a 22-episode commitment on “The Hunger,” the Showtime series based on Tony Scott’s first feature effort.

* “Forever,” formerly titled “Reincarnation,” is in development with Arnold Shapiro and Scott Free producing.

The Scotts say it’s unlikely they’ll ever settle for a typical studio production deal again. They prefer the independence that this joint pact and alternative off-balance-sheet financing offer. And they like working with each other, not always the case with brothers.

“We’ve been in business 31 years together,” says Tony Scott. “That’s a long time. When there’s blood in business, if it works, there’s nothing stronger. And ours works.”

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