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TriStar slate stellar at NATO

TriStar Pictures put on an impressive display of confidence — and product — at NATO/ShoWest yesterday, delivering a promising slate punctuated by such movies as “Sleepless in Seattle,””Cliffhanger,””Weekend at Bernie’s 2” and “Mr. Jones.”

The studio luncheon presentation at Bally’s Hotel & Casino, one of the best received by exhibitors, was held on the third day of the four-day confab between studio and movie theater executives. The studio trotted out stars Sylvester Stallone, Chevy Chase, Mike Myers and Lena Olin, and capped the event with a performance by Gladys Knight.

Describing the coming Memorial Day release “Cliffhanger” as a “stunt-o-rama,” Stallone said he felt strongly about coming to NATO/ShoWest because of his firm belief in the quality of the action-adventure movie.

“Exhibitors are the lifeblood of the business,” Stallone said. “I’m here for a transfusion.”

For studio chairman Mike Medavoy, the muscle of TriStar’s product reel follows a flabby 1992 that featured just seven studio-produced movies. Medavoy said it was “time for us to tell people — and particularly exhibitors — that there are a number of films” in the pipeline for 1993 and beyond.

Indeed, TriStar used the platform to create an early buzz on “Godzilla,” Steven Spielberg’s “Zorro,” Francis Ford Coppola and Kenneth Branagh’s “Frankenstein,””Les Miserables,” director Tim Burton’s “Mary Reilly” and Danny DeVito starring in the adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s “Get Shorty.”

TriStar led its product reel with the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan starrer “Sleepless in Seattle,” which drew considerable applause from exhibitors. As previously reported, the movie was shifted to the summer movie season after favorable test screenings, and the studio is hoping it will prove to be the 1993 answer to “When Harry Met Sally….”

Footage from “Sleepless” featured a supporting performance by Rob Reiner, who was a surprise addition to the cast. Producer Gary Foster said NATO/ShoWest was a crucial step in bringing the movie to market, since exhibitors had already been primed by TriStar president of distribution Bill Soady to look for the pic.

In bringing the movie to market, Foster said TriStar was prepared “to do more than you would expect for this type of romantic, comedic movie.” Already, the studio purchased expensive commercial time during President Bill Clinton’s inauguration to create early awareness for the pic.

Not all went as planned at the TriStar gala, however. The slapstick comedy “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” was embraced with open arms by exhibitors, while footage from director Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery” elicited no cheers, no boos — nothing. Absent from the reel was footage from director Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia.”

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