Franchise Pix goes ‘Ballistic’ in H’wood

Samaha compares movie biz to a chef who makes soufflés

Though Franchise Pictures’ Eli Samaha has his hands full dealing with an FBI criminal investigation regarding alleged film budget fraud, the exec showed no signs of strain at the Sunset Room following the Arclight preem of “Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.”

The topper said he’s “still learning” about making films and compared the movie business to “a chef who makes 20 soufflés with the best ingredients and puts them in the oven: Some will rise, some won’t.”

Samaha said the media drumbeat about his company “has always been ‘Battlefield Earth,’ ‘Battlefield Earth.’ People forget that ‘Battlefield Earth’ did $24 million, and ‘Lucky Numbers’ with John (Travolta) did $7 million.”

Samaha’s numbers were a bit off — “Battlefield” did $21.5 million domestic and “Numbers” pulled in $10 million. Before he could say another word, however, Sylvester Stallone tapped him on the shoulder and the Franchise chief was in the star’s arms.

Among those on hand were Warner Bros.’ Alan Horn, Jeff Robinov, Dawn Taubin and Kevin McCormick; producer Chris Lee; director Kaos; stars Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas with Melanie Griffith; co-stars Ray Park, Gregg Henry and Talisa Soto; plus guests Benjamin Bratt, Elizabeth Perkins and Robbie Williams.

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