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AFM ’93; Vision’s CEO drops prez title

Vision Intl. chairman/CEO Mark Damon has relinquished his additional title of president to allow him to concentrate on acquiring, producing and selling films.

Pursuing his goal of parlaying the 7-year-old Vision into a worldwide distribution force feeding 20 pictures a year to foreign distribs, Damon also disclosed he’s negotiating a long-term pact with former Carolco prexy Peter Hoffman.

Vision is angling to distribute overseas “most” future films from Hoffman’s Cinevisions and in some cases to handle domestic release as well, said Damon.

“Peter (Hoffman) intends to put a lot of films before the cameras. We are having advanced discussions about representing most of his productions,” Damon said yesterday, adding there is no deal yet.

Damon confirmed that two weeks ago he decided to up Stephen Monas from senior VP of business affairs to president, while he remains as chairman/CEO.

He had intended to hold back on announcing Monas’ promotion and on airing the Hoffman conversations until after the American Film Market.

But he agreed to discuss both issues with Daily Variety to emphatically quell speculation circulating at the AFM that falsely suggested Vision is struggling, that Damon himself is exiting and that Hoffman would take the reins at Vision.

“We have the biggest slate we’ve ever had,” boasted Damon, referring to 18 films from pre-production to release, with combined budgets of $ 209 million.

Appearing relaxed and confident in the spacious Vision suite overlooking the ocean, foreign sales vet and former actor (who appeared in 50 films, the last in 1974) Damon stressed: “We’re in better shape financially than ever.” He was flanked by Monas, who said Vision is well-funded by pre-sales plus production loans from several institutions: Imperial, Mercantile National and Kreditbank Luxembourg. Like many Hollywood companies, Vision had to find alternative sources of funds after Credit Lyonnais decided to cut back its loan portfolio.

To strengthen Vision’s presence overseas, in the past three months the company has sealed output deals with distribs in six territories, Damon disclosed. The exec says he’s not ready to name these distribs. He listed the advantages of those pacts as doing business with distribs that provide “accurate accounting,” and avoiding the need to negotiate each picture separately.

Vision has domestic distrib deals with Sony’s Triumph Releasing and Columbia TriStar Home Video. Sony has a minority stake in Vision, as have Trans World Entertainment partners Moshe Diamant and Eduard Sarlui.

Vision’s sales agency agreement with Epic Prods. ended after Diamant and Sarlui were forced out of Epic by Credit Lyonnais. Epic’s current chief John H. Peters reportedly is talking to various sales agents about handling Epic’s library. Damon says he’s also talking to Epic about extending the sales deal.

Triumph is releasing Vision’s Eskimo epic “Shadow of the Wolf” this Friday on 400 prints, and “Sidekicks” (Beau Bridges, Joe Piscopo) on April 9. At the AFM, Damon reported strong pre-sales for Vision’s slate headed by “Men of War” (Dolph Lundgren), “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman” (Daryl Hannah) and “Benji-Benji.”

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