×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Savoy making public bow

Savoy Pictures has stepped into the high-stakes poker game of Hollywood distribution with commitments for an initial slate of 10 movies tentatively scheduled to go before the cameras this year and early next year.

Savoy plans four releases this year, and another eight to 10 in ’94, as it sets its sights on becoming a household name in the nation’s movie houses–akin to a Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Co. or Warner Bros. And Savoy has the money to buy name recognition, thanks to a $ 32 million initial stock offering (see related story).

Launched just 12 months ago, the upstart start-up has quietly marched through Hollywood and lined up projects with such talent as Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger, Tom Berenger and Kathleen Turner, as well as A-list directors Garry Marshall, Mike Nichols, John Milius and Sir Richard Attenborough.

“The larger talent is giving them the benefit of the doubt right now, because of who they are,” said International Creative Management president Jim Wiatt. “They haven’t failed yet.”

The company is headed by Victor Kaufman, who was chairman and chief executive of TriStar Pictures when it went public on May 24, 1985.

Kaufman was also central in cutting deals with such production powerhouses as Carolco Pictures and Castle Rock Entertainment.

Kaufman is partnered at Savoy Pictures with Lewis Korman, who raised more than $ 300 million in off-balance-sheet financing for Columbia Pictures in the 1980s and heads Savoy’s movie unit.

Rounding out Savoy’s creative team is Alan Greisman, an acquisitions and production tactician.

Attorneys and agents said the company’s first 10 movies aren’t bush league. High points include Robert De Niro’s directorial debut “A Bronx Tale,” Attenborough’s tearjerker “Shadowlands” and director Wes Craven’s movie based on the Marvel Comics character “Dr. Strange.”

‘Honeymooners’ on list

The company has also plucked two screen adaptations of old CBS television shows –“The Honeymooners,” which will be produced by former Columbia Pictures chairman Frank Price, and “Have Gun Will Travel,” which will be produced by Ray Stark’s Rastar and Jerry Leider. The projects will be produced in association with CBS and CBS Entertainment prexy Jeff Sagansky, who worked for Kaufman and Korman as chairman of TriStar in the late 1980s.

In other deals, the company purchased “Hairspray” director John Waters’ “Serial Mom” in turnaround from Columbia Pictures and plans to roll in April, while “Conan the Barbarian” director John Milius will helm the westerner “The Texas Rangers” later this year.

Rounding out its slate, Savoy has pacted with “Postcards From the Edge” director Nichols for the screen adaptation of “The Simple Plan” and has linked with executive producer Mario Kassar on director Tab Murphy’s action adventure “The Last of the Dog Men.””Pretty Woman” director Marshall’s project is “Free of Eden,” which will be produced by Alexandra Rose.

It wasn’t just executive credentials that helped Savoy build its slate. The company has embarked on a strategy that allows filmmakers to own the negatives to their movies eventually — a tack untried by the studios. “Most majors control the copyright and distribution rights; Savoy is prepared to make other kinds of concessions,” ICM chairman Jeff Berg said.

Agents excited

Attorneys and agents are excited by Savoy’s insurgence because it has added another buyer to the mix — roughly seven of its first 10 movies are packages from talent brokers ICM and Creative Artists Agency.

As a domestic distributor, Savoy will initially rely on foreign presales in international territories — a tactic it may abandon as the company’s capital grows.

To deliver performance in the crucial U.S. market, Savoy has hired another veteran Hollywood executive — former Columbia Pictures distribution president Jimmy Spitz. His task is perhaps the toughest of all.

Savoy will have to establish playdates and barter for favorable terms with United Artists Theatres, Cineplex Odeon, American Multi Cinema, Carmike Cinema and General Cinemas –five circuits that control roughly 8,600 of the nation’s 24,639 screens.

More Film

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, president of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild leaders [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Tessa Thompson Nnamdi Asomugha

    Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha to Star in 'Sylvie'

    Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha are set to star in the feature film “Sylvie.” Eugene Ashe has written the screenplay and will direct with production currently underway. The film is described as a love story set in the cool jazz era of New York City in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Sylvie (played by Thompson) meets aspiring [...]

  • Night Fury dragon Toothless and Hiccup

    Box Office: 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' Soaring to $50 Million-Plus Launch

    “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is soaring toward a $53 million launch weekend at 4,259 North American locations, early estimates showed on Friday. That estimate is well above Universal’s forecast in the $40 million range at 4,259 sites — and ahead of its predecessors, 2010’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” which made [...]

  • Actors With Disabilities Deserve a Hollywood

    Dreaming of a Hollywood Ending for Actors With Disabilities (Guest Column)

    Picture a world in which an actor with a disability wins an Academy Award. Sadly, that storyline remains no more than a Hollywood fantasy. In recent years, the #OscarsSoWhite trending hashtag campaign has shed light on the lack of diversity in the movie industry. Yet ahead of this year’s Oscars on Feb. 24, society’s definition [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content