Miramax arm snags rights to Carolco's sci-fi hit

Dimension Films, the Miramax genre division, has picked up theatrical sequel, prequel and remake film rights to “Total Recall” from defunct Carolco Pictures for a whopping $3.15 million at a Los Angeles bankruptcy court auction Tuesday.

“This is the perfect franchise opportunity for Dimension,” said Miramax co-topper Bob Weinstein. He said he in-tends to contact the film’s original cast, including the original star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger has said in the past that he would be interested in doing a follow-up to the 1990 sci-fi actioner, which grossed $260 million worldwide for Carolco. Other cast members included Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox.

But Weinstein indicated that original director Paul Verhoeven would not be tapped. “We’re going to our Miramax stable of directors,” he said. “We have discussed story ideas, we have a concept and we’re going forward with this within the next year.”

Bids for the “Total Recall” film rights began with $150,000 from DFL Entertainment, which previously bought TV series rights for $1.2 million.

But in what Carolco bankruptcy counsel Howard Weg called “lively bidding,” 20th Century Fox and Live Entertainment vied in the courtroom with Miramax at increments of $100,000 and then $10,000. Fox quit at $500,000, but Live continued to joust with Miramax until Live’s final bid of $3.14 million.

In a considerable understatement, Weg said, “The debtors and creditors are pleased.”

Dimension has hollered up more than $50 million at the box office with “Scream,” which Weinstein said would be followed with a sequel. “Franchises are what Dimension is all about,” he said. But while Carolco spent $60 million making “Total Recall,” Miramax will budget its sequel for considerably less.

“We are not getting into the $60 million game,” asserted Weinstein, who said significant profit participation on “Scream” made the $14 million hit possible. He said the same financial structure, involving overseas partners, would make another “Total Recall” happen.

So far, Carolco’s garage sale has raised more than $70 million, much to the delight of Wall Street “vulture” investors who snapped up most of Carolco’s $58 million in outstanding bonds from original investors before the company went belly up. The company’s film library, which includes “Total Recall,” was sold to Canal Plus for $58 million.

Bondholders may be in for more windfalls. Theatrical sequel, prequel and remake rights to the “Rambo,” “Terminator” and “Universal Soldier” franchises will also be on sale in the coming months.