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MGM, Rysher jump into multipic pact

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Rysher Entertainment have entered an agreement for MGM to distribute four Rysher films domestically and for the companies jointly to finance and produce another two to three films over the next two years, the companies confirmed.

Under terms of the agreement, MGM will distribute the bowling comedy “Kingpin,” the Sharon Stone-John Travolta starrer “The Lady Takes an Ace,” the drama “Two Days in the Valley” and another project currently in development, the action thriller “Turbulence.”

MGM and Rysher will 50/50 co-finance two or three yet-to-be-determined films under the arrangement. Rysher will retain foreign rights. Rysher, which has been gearing up its feature film division for the past year and a half, is financed by deep-pocketed Cox Enterprises.

The Rysher deal gives MGM an influx of product for the 1996 slate, including a summer picture in “Kingpin” and a holiday picture in “The Lady Takes an Ace.” Video, pay TV and other non-theatrical rights differ on each project. “Kingpin” and “Two Days in the Valley” will be the first in production, with the latter going May 31. “Lady” will start principal photography in January.

MGM Inc. had planned for product coming from Polygram and Carolco, but those deals haven’t fulfilled expectations.

For Rysher, the deal gives the company another distribution channel.

MGM president Mike Marcus said discussions about getting into business together started soon after he and Rysher chairman-CEO Keith Samples completed the deal on “Kingpin” in November. The deal, which was negotiated by Creative Artists Agency’s John Ptak and Emanuel Nunez, was agreed to about a month ago.

“We enjoyed working with them after the ‘Kingpin’ deal. As the relationship grew, we began to talk about more of their product, ” said Marcus.

Rysher product is as follows:

* “Kingpin” currently is looking for replacement cast after Michael Keaton bowed out. Motion Picture Corp. of America also is producing.

* “Lady Takes an Ace” is close to a deal with a director. Glen and Les Charles (“Cheers”) are producing.

* “Two Days in the Valley” is written and directed by John Herzfeld and being produced by Jeff Wald and Herb Nanas.

* “Turbulence” is an airliner-set actioner by Jonathan Brett.

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