Par, D’works to pay ‘Check’

Pic's likely year-end release pushes back 'Christmas' bow

Paramount Pictures has decided it needs another paycheck in order to make “Paycheck.”

Studio has agreed to bring on DreamWorks to co-finance the sci-fi thriller, which will topline Ben Affleck with John Woo directing. Paramount will handle the domestic release and DreamWorks will take foreign on “Paycheck,” due to begin lensing in early spring for release at the end of the year.

It’s the third such deal hammered out recently between Par and DreamWorks following similar pacts to co-finance “Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Killing Pablo.”

DreamWorks agreed to participate after Par, one of the most avid practitioners of risk-sharing, developed the project. The studios previously partnered on “Saving Private Ryan” and “Deep Impact.”

The “Paycheck” deal also calls for DreamWorks to hold off releasing its comedy “Surviving Christmas,” which also stars Affleck, until the 2004 holiday season to avoid going head-to-head with “Paycheck.” Lensing begins next week on “Surviving Christmas,” in which Affleck’s character hires a family with which to share the holidays and discovers they’re even more psychotic than his own troubled clan.

DreamWorks Pictures co-head Walter Parkes said, “Our involvement in ‘Paycheck’ offers a win-win-win situation for everybody. Ben is able to star in a John Woo movie, ‘Surviving Christmas’ is protected for a winter 2004 release, and DreamWorks is once again partnering with Paramount on a terrific project.”

Affleck will be seen next month in Fox/Regency’s “Daredevil”; he’s also starring in a pair of upcoming comedies — Sony’s “Gigli” and Miramax’s “Jersey Girl.”

“Paycheck,” based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, centers on an electrician who wakes up to discover his employer has erased his memory of the past two years as a security measure. When he tries to collect his paycheck, he finds he had previously signed a release replacing the money with a bag of random objects.

“Paycheck” production credits will go to Davis Entertainment and Woo’s Lion Rock Prods. The script has been adapted by Dean Georgaris; producers are John A. Davis, Michael Hackett, David Solomon, Terence Chang and Woo.

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