×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Foreign presales to fuel Miracle, Firestorm slates

New venture will make studio pix at near zero risk

NEW YORK — Miracle Entertainment and Firestorm Pictures have formed an alliance designed to make studio films that offer the majors mid-level budgets and near zero risk, since the partners will provide most of the financing through foreign presales, as well as the P&A costs.

Miracle is run by CEO Tony Cataldo, while Firestorm is steered by Oscar-winning “Ed Wood” star Martin Landau and Richard Abramson, the former manager who steered the early career fortunes of Pee-wee Herman and moved into film financing and production. The Firestorm duo have structured their company to include, with the backing of insurance companies, a $125 million fund to finance the prints and advertising campaigns of the first five films.

The first two projects are “Alicia’s Book,” a thriller by scribe Stanford Whitmore about a journo who investigates the brutal murder of his former lover, a literary agent whose last project was written by an anonymous author who’s a career criminal. The film’s being produced by Pinchas Perry, Avi Lerner of Millennium Films, Landau, Abramson and Cataldo. Lerner has providing the financing.

The second film is “Funny Money,” an adaptation of the Ray Cooney comic play about an uptight man who finds $5 million in his briefcase and tries to elude drug dealers, his wife and the cops in order to spend it. The comedy will be directed by Leslie Greif, who wrote the script with Harry Basil. Both pics are being prepped for production starts next year.

Higher-end films

The synergy between Miracle and Firestorm came about after Cataldo took over Miracle and decided to steer it toward higher-end films. He then met Landau and Abramson, who brought the P&A fund, along with a bunch of promising development projects. Though they will start with the pair of pics, they plan to do many more, with Landau and Abramson moving into Miracle headquarters.

As for the equity/P&A investment, the partners said that these days, studios either make low-budget films or $150 million films. Getting studio financing for films between $15 million and $30 million has become a difficult mission. But to the insurance companies that Landau and Abramson hit up for funding, that budget level was attractive.

“There’s a dearth of these kinds of films, and you can get a lot of production and talent on the screen with legitimate backend deals,” Landau said. He wouldn’t disclose the insurance companies, but said they were of the blue chip variety.

As for the P&A component, Landau said he believes there is strength in funding that money themselves: “Studios are shy of cash now, and if they are making a decision on a $15 million film and have to put another $15 million in P&A, that’s a $30 million decision. We say we can put up the P&A, and some of the negative money, and now a studio only has to put up $5 million or $6 million for a $30 million movie.”

More Film

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    2018 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Winners

    Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. are meeting today to vote on the year’s best cinema accomplishments. Recent winners of the group’s top prize include “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Boyhood,” “Her”/”Gravity” and “Amour.” List of winners below. Check back throughout the morning for updates. Best Film: Related John Krasinski Reveals 'A [...]

  • Ralph Breaks the Internet

    Box Office: 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' Narrowly Defeats 'Grinch' in Sleepy Pre-Holiday Weekend

    Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” topped a quiet weekend at the domestic box office, marking the third straight win for the animated sequel. It earned $16.2 million in its third week of release, generating $140 million since it opened over Thanksgiving. Another cartooned adventure almost gave “Ralph” a run for its money. Illumination and Universal’s [...]

  • John KrasinskiVariety Actors on Actors, Day

    John Krasinski on 'A Quiet Place': Casting A Deaf Actress Was 'Non-Negotiable'

    John Krasinski’s debut feature “A Quiet Place” tells the story of a family with a deaf child, and the “Jack Ryan” star wanted to make sure he included a deaf actor in the film. “It was a non-negotiable thing for me,” Krasinski told Rosamund Pike of the casting during their conversation for Variety‘s “Actors on [...]

  • Rosamund Pike John Krasinski

    John Krasinski and Rosamond Pike on Vulnerability and Decompressing After Tense Scenes

    John Krasinski and Rosamund Pike sat down for a conversation for Variety’s Actors on Actors. For more, click here.  In “Gone Girl,” Rosamund Pike proved she could put herself through anything. The British actress, a well-loved supporting player in “Pride & Prejudice” and “An Education,” took the lead and scored her first Oscar nomination. Four years later, [...]

  • Aquaman

    'Aquaman' Rules Overseas Box Office With $94 Million in China

    “Aquaman” launched with a massive $93.6 million in China, marking the best start for a Warner Bros. title in that territory. The superhero adventure — directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa as the king of the seven seas — isn’t opening in North America for another two weeks, but the studio wanted to [...]

  • (L to R) MAHERSHALA ALI and

    Scores from 'Green Book,' 'Solo,' Others Disqualified from Oscar Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    First-round voting is underway for Oscar’s Original Song and Original Score categories, but Academy music-branch voters are discovering that four talked-about scores are missing from the eligibility list. Music for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Green Book,” “Mandy” and “The Other Side of the Wind” has been disqualified for various reasons, Variety has learned. More [...]

  • Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson appear

    'Minding the Gap' Wins Top Award From International Documentary Association

    Bing Liu’s skateboarding movie “Minding The Gap” has won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2018. Floyd Russ’s “Zion” was awarded best short. Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country” won for best limited series and HBO’s “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” took the ABC News VideoSource Award. PBS’ “POV” won for best curated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content