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Sony has stake in ‘Vampires’

$15 mil acquires rights from Largo

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired U.S., U.K., Scandinavian and Benelux rights to “John Carpenter’s Vampires” from Largo Entertainment.

The horror/action pic, which stars James Woods as a crusading vampire-slayer in the pay of the Vatican, was directed by Carpenter and produced by Sandy King’s Storm King Prods. Don Jakoby wrote the screenplay.

Over the past six months many distribs have flirted with taking domestic rights to “Vampires,” which cost around $19 million to make. Other bidders included MGM and Artisan Entertainment.

At one point the pic was also a candidate for distribution via Steve Stabler’s long-planned new domestic distribution company.

Sources said that Sony won out with a $15 million offer, consisting of a large P&A commitment for around 1,500 screens but a relatively small advance. One source put the studio’s P&A budget for the pic at “north of $12 million.”

“Vampires” was acquired by senior VPs of acquisition Peter Schlessel and Clint Culpepper, of Sony’s Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group division. Col TriStar Motion Picture Group had already taken Latin American rights to “Vampires.”

“Vampires” opened strongly in France last several weeks ago, where it has taken $2.1 million to date. The R-rated pic will be released by Columbia Pictures in the U.S. Sept. 11.

Several other pics are due to come out this year targeting a similar demographic, including MGM’s “Disturbing Behavior” and Sony’s own “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Since bailing out of the Stabler venture in March, Largo has started to ink domestic deals for many of its films. Last month Lions Gate Films took U.S. rights to Paul Schrader’s “Affliction.” Sources said deals were pending on other pics, including “Shadow of Doubt,” “The Road to Graceland” and “Under Pressure.”

Col TriStar Motion Picture Group has become more aggressive in the arena of domestic pickups of late. Earlier this year it took U.S. rights to the Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner “Knock Off,” which it expects to release via the TriStar Pictures banner Aug. 21.

“Vampires” also stars Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith and Maximilian Schell.