Crafting a classic

Trio plans to remake adventure series

“Baywatch” exec producer Doug Schwartz and Trimark co-founder Barry Barnholtz have teamed with visual effects guru Bob Keen to form Classic Entertainment.

The company is preparing a series of five under-$5 million adaptations of classic adventure stories such as “One Million Years B.C.,” “Mysterious Island” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Financing for the remakes — the source material for most of which are in the public domain — will come from private equity investors plus selected foreign presales.

Spielberg is a 10

The plan is to create actioners with high-quality, if not state-of-the-art, effects for a fraction of the cost of a studio pic, said Barnholtz. “If a Spielberg film is a 10, ours is a 7-1/2.”

In order to keep production budgets down, Keen’s own Image Animation will provide CGI and animatronic effects, possibly using modified versions of existing creatures from other films.

Barnholtz and Keen have already collaborated on “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World,” which will serve as a model for the series.

Keen, whose effects credits include “Return of the Jedi” and the “Hellraiser” series, directed the film, which centers on an ex-pedition to the South American jungle to find the last surviving dinosaurs. Barnholtz produced the film for which Fries Film Group is handling foreign sales.

“Baywatch” exec joins team

“Baywatch” producer Kevin Beggs has also joined Classic as a production and development exec.

Barnholtz, was one of the five original founding members of Vidmark, the predecessor to Trimark Pictures. At the domestic video distribution company, he was involved in the acquisition of such titles as “La Femme Nikita,” “Swimming with Sharks” and “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.”

Barnholtz left Trimark in 1996 and formed Barnholtz Ent. which recently produced “The First 9-1/2 Weeks.” Lions Gate is handling worldwide rights.

Schwartz is a writer/producer and director with over 300 hours of produced television to his credit. In 1988, he and producing partner Michael Berk teamed with lifeguard Greg Bonann to develop the worldwide hit “Baywatch.” He recently produced the highly-rated “Assault on Devil’s Island” for TNT.

In addition to special effects credits on numerous films, such as “Neverending Story,” “Highlander,” “Candyman” and “Andre,” Keen has directed eight features, including “Proteus” and “To Catch a Yeti.”

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