Chesler/Perlmutter Prods., one of the most active independent producers of series and telepics, has signed a deal with the Kushner-Locke Co. and Alliance Communications to produce six 90-minute direct-to-video movies aimed at teens and kids.
Under the umbrella title “Magic Adventures,” the six English-language pics, to be shot in Romania with the local production company Castel Film SRI, “are set up to take advantage of the emerging global market for family films,” said Chesler, who spends most of his time in L.A. (Toronto is the headquarters of Chesler/Perlmutter.) Two of the pictures, “Teen Knight” and “Excalibur Kid,” already are in production.
Following the video run of the movies in the U.S., Perlmutter said Kushner-Locke and Alliance will look to get additional revenues from TV syndication or from the revamped Fox Family Channel, which is starting to stock up on family-type movies.
Chesler/Perlmutter estimates that it has production commitments for 1998 worth about $63 million, with $30 million more for projects in development for next year.
The two TV series that Chesler/Perlmutter is supervising are the hourlong private-eye actioner “Sins of the City,” a joint venture with Alliance, shooting in Miami, which USA will start running Saturday nights beginning July 25; and “Betaville,” an hourlong futuristic anthology series, also with Alliance, scheduled to kick off on the Sci-Fi Channel July 13. “Sins” will cost about $1.3 million an hour to produce. “Betaville,” now in production in Toronto, which will secure the series Canadian tax write-offs, will come in at about $1 million an episode, according to sources.
The UPN network has commissioned Chesler-Perlmutter and Alliance to produce six sci-fi suspense pictures for its “Way Out There Movies” lineup to premiere this fall. The first movie, to be shot in Luxembourg, stars Kate Mulgrew and Corbin Bernsen. Chesler says John Savage and Barbara Sukowa will star in the second pic and Robert Hays will appear in the third. The European partner in the movies is CLT/Ufa, the German TV syndicator, which will help Alliance cover the deficit in exchange for the right to distribute the pictures in Europe. Deficits are guaranteed because UPN is putting up less than $1 million in license fees for two network runs of each movie.
Perlmutter said the company also produces original action movies for HBO, the two most recent being “Bone Daddy,” a joint venture with Kushner-Locke, starring Rutger Hauer as a forensic pathologist who studies serial killers, and “Valentine’s Day,” a co-production with Lions Gate Films, starring Mario Van Peebles and Randy Quaid.
Make homevid deals
Sources say HBO will pay as much as $1 million a picture for a world premiere of the movies. Then the producers will make a deal with a homevideo distributor such as Hallmark to get the pictures into the videostores.
The next step for his company, Chesler said, is small-scale theatrical-movie production. Chesler/Perlmutter has bought the rights to three French-language movies directed by Claude Chabrol: “Le Boucher,” “Les Biches” and “Les Innocents Aux Main Sales.” The plan is to remake one or more of them as low-budget theatricals.
“We’d get a distributor to release the picture to the specialized theatrical market,” Chesler said, “and then sell it on the backend to the new cable networks like Independent Film Channel and Sundance Channel.”