Still looking for high-profile films on which to stamp its name, Polygram Filmed Entertainment is putting its money behind a new production company run by longtime friends Ivan Reitman — director of “Ghostbusters” and “Twins” — and former MCA vice-chairman Tom Pollock.
The unnamed company will be added to PFE’s list of labels, which includes Propaganda Films, Interscope Communications and Working Title Films.
Owned jointly by PFE, Reitman and Pollock, the new production company will be based in Santa Barbara, where both filmmakers live, once its headquarters building is completed. In the meantime, the operation will be run from Reitman’s offices on the Universal lot, a legacy of his producing/directing deal there, which ended 13 months ago.
3 to 5 films a year
PFE executives figure the new company will turn out between three and five mainstream movies a year for at least the next five years, a package that could cost about $600 million. Financing will be split between PFE and banks. PFE’s releases are handled domestically by Polygram Films, the distribution outlet set up last May, and by Gramercy Pictures.
PFE has also signed deals with Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods., Phillip Noyce’s Rumbalara and Alan Parker’s Dirty Hands Prods.
Reitman, helmer of “Dave,” “Meatballs,” “Junior,” “Father’s Day” and the upcoming Harrison Ford vehicle “6 Days/7 Nights,” said the new venture is only mildly daunting.
“I always feel the responsibility to make sure the people who are investing in me get a return on their investment,” he said. “This deal just allows us to have financing ready so we can react quickly to any opportunities.”
Reitman and Pollock had wanted to set up their own firm for years. “We thought it would be fun if we could benefit from ownership of the movies and have the ability to greenlight films,” he recalled.
After Reitman’s deal at Universal expired, he started talking with U and three other studios about a traditional producing/directing deal when Polygram came calling.
“What’s good about this is that you get to make the kinds of movies you believe in instead of just filling a schedule, the way Tom had to when he was running a major studio,” said Reitman, who will bring his veteran production team of Joe Medjuck, Daniel Goldberg, Sheldon Kahn and Michael Chinich into the new operation.
‘Real filmmakers’ company’
PFE president Michael Kuhn said Pollock and Reitman “are going to build a real filmmakers’ company. That’s what a lot of people say, but these gentlemen have the resources and the expertise to do it. They’re not taking any salary — they’re betting everything on being able to make this happen.”
From Pollock’s point of view, the way to run the new outfit is to vastly increase the number of ideas developed internally. “If you want to point to something that could be done better in this industry,” said the former Universal Pictures chief, “that would be it.”
But Pollock, a former attorney who negotiated Reitman’s deals on “Animal House” and “Stripes,” said the company would encourage outside directors, producers and writers to bring projects in. “There are always great scripts out there,” he said.