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Mandalay’s on the road

Layoffs not part of Par departure

This article was corrected on July 9, 2002.

After being housed at the Paramount lost since 1998, Peter Guber’s feature film financing and production shingle Mandalay Pictures will leave its studio home after its current multiyear pact expires in the next six to eight weeks.

Guber moved his shingle to Par in 1998 in a multiyear pact that saw the studio distribute Mandalay’s films in North America and certain foreign territories, with Mandalay financing its own overhead and development as a “stand-alone” company.

The Paramount deal, which reunited Guber with the studio for which he exec produced the 1983 hit “Flashdance,” ended his multiyear pact with Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he had been formally housed under a production deal after stepping down as Sony chief.

Mandalay, like many other independent production and financing ventures, has had a hard time of late due to the turmoil in the global marketplace, the crash of Germany’s Neuer Markt and the dire condition of the current global TV market.

Company suffered a financial blow when Munich-based Cineartists, a potential backer, postponed its planned IPO on Germany’s Neuer Markt at the beginning of 2001. Mandalay’s other major German partner, KC Medien, had, however, continued to provide some financing for its slate.

Mandalay had its biggest hits with Paramount release “Sleepy Hollow” and Sony release “I Know What You Did Last Summer”; “Les Miserables” and “The Deep End of the Ocean” (both distrubuted by Sony) were misfires.

Will serve ‘Sara’

This summer, Paramount will release the Mandalay financed and produced “Serving Sara,” a romantic comedy starring Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley that will open Stateside in August.

Company is also in post-production on helmer Martin Campbell’s high-profile Angelina Jolie starrer “Beyond Borders,” also starring Teri Polo and Clive Owen, for producers Dan Halsted and Lloyd Phillips. Mandalay financed the pic, for which Paramount will handle domestic distribution and release in a selected number of foreign territories.

Recently, in a deal worth more than $1 million, Mandalay optioned “Maneater,” by novelist and screenwriter Gigi Levangie Grazer (Daily Variety, June 16). Company — with U and producers J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burke — also acquired filmmaker Jason Hightman’s novel “The Saint of Dragons” (Daily Variety, June 25)

Mandalay Pictures will now be housed together with Mandalay Entertainment’s other affiliated companies at its L.A. offices.

“We are moving across the street from Paramount with all our other branded entertainment companies, our TV and sports companies. It makes it easier to operate,” said Guber.

No layoffs

He also said the Par departure would not result in any layoffs or cutbacks in Mandalay Entertainment’s combined staff, which numbers between 22 and 24.

In March this year, Mandalay launched a new marketing consultancy called Mandalay Branded Entertainment to build brand strength for clients through its film, TV and new-media projects (Daily Variety, March 14). Mandalay Entertainment’s other units aside from motion picture operation Mandalay Pictures include Mandalay Television, Mandalay Sports and Mandalay E-Media.

Mandalay Pictures also continues its long-term partnership with Summit Entertainment, which sells its pics overseas. The two have previously teamed up on such films as “Seven Years in Tibet,” “Donnie Brasco,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “The Score.”

Other features in development at Mandalay Pictures include “The Jacket,” to be produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney; the Sean Connery starrer “End Game”; and “Fallen Angel,” to be directed by John McNaughton.

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