Miramax Films goes wide with ‘Fortress’

Backed by Buena Vista distribution, Miramax Films announced Thursday that it plans a 1,200-print release of the Christopher Lambert actioner “Fortress,” which will debut on Labor Day weekend.

The pic shapes up as one of the widest opening-weekend release patterns in Miramax’s 13-year history, and as the largest marketing campaign for its fledgling Dimension Films banner.

To date, Miramax’s widest release was the animated “Freddie as F.R.O.7,” which debuted Aug. 28, 1992, on 1,257 screens. Miramax handled that pic on a rent-a-system basis, collecting a distribution fee without taking an ownership position.

“Fortress” underscores the leverage Miramax enjoys in the aftermath of Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of the company in April. When it acquired the pic from Columbia TriStar Home Video, prior to the Disney deal, Miramax anticipated “Fortress” would reach roughly 800 screens (Daily Variety, April 5).

Directed by Stuart Gordon, “Fortress” follows “Hellraiser III” and “Children of the Corn II” in the Dimension pipeline. The marketing shingle was formed by Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein as the action/exploitation alternative to Miramax’s bread-and-butter specialized films.