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Orion distrib’n closing in on Renascence pact

Orion Pictures announced a new multipic distribution deal Tuesday with nascent Renascence Films, but details of the pact are sketchy with deal points reportedly still being hammered out.

According to Orion prexy and CEO Len White, the deal with Renascence will provide Orion’s distrib network with four to 10 films per year for the next 18 months. At least four of the pix must be delivered to Orion by the end of this year.

However, Renascence Films prexy Solomon J. LeFlore hesitated to comment outright on the deal, saying it was not fully completed.

He said that while Renascence has never produced a movie, it has 14 projects in development with “top filmmakers,” including talent and helmers, though he declined to name them.

He added that the company has financed films for the past eight years. “We are mainly a finance company that has filmmakers in our midst,” he said. Again, he wouldn’t name names.

Renascence will also acquire films on pickup deals, LeFlore said, to fill out their product commitment to Orion.

Once fully hammered out, the pact will provide Orion with its first multipic domestic distribution deal since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992.

Orion will carry distrib rights for each Renascence pic in theatrical, non-theatrical and homevid markets.

White praised the deal with the indie for providing “a sustained flow of films for distribution within the foreseeable future.”

Orion, the once-mighty producer of “Dances With Wolves” and “Silence of the Lambs,” is still precluded from producing by the Chapter 11 agreement, which requires the company to pay down most of its $ 700 million debt.

Since then, Orion has distrib-uted occasional pix that were produced, but not released, before the bankruptcy. “China Moon,” starring Ed Harris and Madeleine Stowe, is one such film in current release.

But the company also formulated a separate production company last year, ostensibly tap-dancing around the bankruptcy ruling. Orion Prods. Co., jointly owned by an Orion Pictures subsid and Met Prods., an affiliate of Metromedia, can seek funding and produce pix as long as it remains fiscally independent of Orion.

“This is an important deal for Orion because it keeps Orion’s national distribution operation busy with a slate of films,” said an Orion rep. “It also helps Orion’s image in the marketplace as a company that’s still on its feet.”

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