Damme good ‘Street’ price

In a deal that underscores the growing power of high-tech companies in Hollywood, Jean-Claude Van Damme will be paid $ 7.5 million to $ 8 million to play the title role in “Street Fighter,” based on the popular Capcom USA Inc. videogame — with the film entirely financed by Capcom’s parent company.

The pic will be produced by Ed Pressman and Kenzo Tsujimoto, chairman of the Silicon Valley-based software manufacturer. International Creative Management brokered the deal for Van Damme.

The $ 35.5 million negative is wholly financed by Japanese-based Capcom Co. Ltd., parent of Capcom USA. “If we can make this work, I think it will be a very precedential event,” affirmed Pressman.

“Street Fighter” is believed to be the first time a videogame company has stepped forward with the entire cost of a big-budget movie. Nintendo had no financial risk in the 1992 screen adaptation of “Super Mario Brothers,” while the current “Mortal Kombat” is being underwritten by New Line Cinema.

Capcom has major studio distribution lined up in advance. Universal Pictures will handle domestic distribution, while Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl.takes foreign. The pic is tentatively skedded to debut in the U.S. in December 1994.

Writer/director is Steven E. De Sousza, who makes his directorial debut following screenwriting credits on such projects as “Die Hard” and “48 HRS.” Raul Julia will co-star. De Souza is represented by Jim Berkus of United Talent Agency.

With Van Damme’s deal in place, “Street Fighter” shifts immediately into pre-production. Principal photography is set to begin May 30 in Australia and Bangkok.

Van Damme will play Guile, a U.S.-born kickboxer trapped by dark overlord M. Bison in a Thailand prison ward. According to the arcade game story, Guile comes back six years later with new fighting techniques, determined to extract revenge on M. Bison. The movie is earmarked as Van Damme’s first PG-13 release.

ICM president Jim Wiatt and exec VP Jack Gilardi were responsible for closing Van Damme’s deal. This is the latest new-tech deal for ICM, which, under chairman Jeff Berg, last week repped the Dr. Seuss estate in a multimedia deal with Broderbund.

Columbia and Universal tapped long-standing relationships with Van Damme in landing distribution deals for “Street Fighter.” U most recently distributed the action star’s “Hard Target,” while Col has handled “Double Impact” and “Nowhere to Run.”

Over the last 12 months, Capcom has closed more than 30 licensing deals for “Street Fighter,” including apparel, action toys, lunch pails, key chains and T-shirts. It is expected that the marketing efforts will be used to support release of this pic. A Capcom source said company director of licensing Jun Aida was centrally involved in the movie deal.

Since its debut in 1991, “Street Fighter” has sold over 100,000 units of the arcade game nationwide, at prices ranging between $ 2,000 and $ 3,000 a pop. Furthermore, sales figures for home versions of the game have surpassed 10 million units worldwide, according to the company.

The Edward Pressman Film Corp. is currently prepping the Sylvester Stallone-starrer “Judge Dredd” for a summer start, and its May 11 release “The Crow” is planned as the widest release ever for Miramax Films.

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