‘Evita’ goes Hollywood with Stone cutting deal to helm

Hollywood Pictures reached agreement Friday with filmmaker Oliver Stone to direct his screenplay adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita,” the studio has confirmed.

In a statement Sunday, Hollywood Pics said production is scheduled for 1994. It will follow Stone’s chores on “Noreiga” for Warner Bros., which is slated to begin filming in March. The reported budget of “Evita” is$ 40 million.

Completion of the pact comes three months after reports surfaced that Stone was again interested in directing the project. Singers Mariah Carey and Gloria Estefan reportedly have been approached about the title role.

Co-producers of “Evita” are Stone, Robert Stigwood, Arnon Milchan and Andy Vajna — a scenario that would defray risk for Hollywood Pictures if Vajna’s Cinergi and Milchan’s New Regency put up some of the budget in return for international rights.

Details of the financial structure of the movie could not be confirmed Sunday , but Cinergi is in the third year of a five-year output deal with Walt Disney Studios that calls for it to produce two to three movies annually for North American and South American distribution under either the Hollywood Pictures or Touchstone Pictures banners. Under terms of the pact,Cinergi retains all other distribution rights to its movies, which are licensed to independent distributors (Daily Variety, Aug. 13, 1990).

“Evita” jumps to the head of the pack among several Lloyd Webber projects in development.

For Hollywood Pictures, “Evita” represents one of the most prestigious productions mounted in its four-year history. Launched in February 1989, the start-up production banner tripped at the gate with such disappointing movies as “Taking Care of Business,””Medicine Man,””Straight Talk” and “V.I. Warshawski” offsetting hits “Arachnophobia” and “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.”

Such recent releases as “The Joy Luck Club,””Encino Man” and “Son in Law” have improved both Hollywood Pictures’ box office results and its credibility.

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