Seated in his hotel room at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles, Steven Bach, in town to promote his new book, “Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart” (Knopf), wears a red tie, glasses and a light brown leather jacket. He looks like a college professor and, in fact, teaches producing at the Columbia U. Film School.
Reflecting on the “Heaven’s Gate” debacle, chronicled in his book “Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of ‘Heaven’s Gate,’ ” Bach offers a few new details on how the budget spiraled out of control.
United Artists topper at the time the pic went in production, he recalls that the movie Michael Cimino presented to UA was budgeted at $7.5 million. It was eventually approved at $11 million, and the studio thought it could contain the budget to $14 million. Instead, the cost mounted to $44 million, while pic grossed just $2 million at the box office.
Just as former New Line prexy Michael De Luca was let go in January because of such costly failures as “Little Nicky” and “Town and Country,” Bach took the fall for “Heaven’s Gate.” He was fired on a Monday. On Friday, UA was sold to MGM.
Soon after UA’s demise, Bach formed a partnership with director Richard Lester. They began putting together financing for several films, which they hoped to make in Munich using German tax money. But a change in German tax laws eventually scuppered those plans. Bach subsequently built a career around writing and teaching.