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Dish: Billionaire Reveres films

Marino teams with Corrente for H'w'd run

Hi-tech entrepreneur Roger Marino is teaming with director-producer Michael Corrente to launch Revere Pictures, a company with a five-year plan to produce three to five films per year, mostly with budgets between $5 million and $20 million. Marino, a member of the Forbes 400, will personally bankroll the venture named after his Massachusetts high school, investing millions of dollars into developing projects and financing many himself.

Guiding him into Hollywood is Corrente, who has written, directed and produced the films “Federal Hill,” “American Buffalo” and “Outside Providence.” Corrente may direct a film for Revere but will concentrate primarily on getting the company up and running, establishing Revere outposts in New York and L.A. Marisa Polvino, who has produced films with Corrente for the past seven years, will head production for Revere, a venture set up by John Sloss’ Cinetic Media.

Marino is the latest high-flyer lured into a risky industry by love of film, and he’s easily the wealthiest new player to come along in a while. Schooled as an engineer, Marino paired in 1979 with his Northwestern U. roomie Dick Egan to create EMC Corp., a venture that stored memory in large computers and made it possible to share data between systems. By the time Marino decided to leave for a new challenge in 1991, EMC had grown from $1 million to more than $10 billion in annual sales. The Massachusetts-based Marino is taking a run at buying the Boston Red Sox, even though his last foray in team ownership cost him $45 million when his Pittsburgh Penguins went bankrupt, a development that unexpectedly led to the movie venture.

“I owned the AHL Worcester Ice Cats and had so much fun that I thought buying the Penguins would be a good idea,” said Marino. “I enjoyed myself immensely, but found that only eight of the 30 teams make money. When the Boston Globe wrote an article about all the money I’d lost, I said I was thinking of getting in the film industry, because I’d heard you could lose a lot of money there, too. I was half kidding, but immediately I got sent 17 scripts, and I decided to finance one of them.”

Marino took a crash course in moviemaking through his $5 million investment in “Ciao America,” a film about a college grad who goes to Italy to rediscover his roots, and teaches American football to the local kids.

“I was on location every single day for nine weeks in Italy, went through the whole process a day at a time and while people say it’s like watching paint dry, I found I loved everything about it,” said Marino “…I’m not in this to make a lot of money because then I wouldn’t enjoy it. As I told the people of Pittsburgh after I bought the (Penguins), just let me get near break-even and I’ll be one happy camper.”

DISHINGS: While the business is slowly regaining momentum after the strike threat, the rumoring about projects is in full swing. One is that Steven Spielberg might direct the DreamWorks drama “Catch Me If You Can,” a pic once greenlit as a pre-strike pic for director Gore Verbinski, Leonardo DiCaprio and James Gandolfini until DiCaprio took “Gangs of New York.” Verbinski ankled, and Lasse Hallstrom took over only to exit himself. Spielberg has been trying to tempt Milos Forman, but the two-time Oscar winner has another film, prompting Spielberg to consider it himself. The “A.I.” director just completed “Minority Report” and odds are he’ll either follow with “Big Fish” or “Memoirs of a Geisha”… Al Pacino’s coveted for not one but two projects. There’s the Disney/Spyglass CIA drama “The Farm,” and he’s being courted by Mike Nichols to play Roy Cohn in “Angels in America,” the acclaimed Tony Kushner play that was bought for Nichols by HBO last year and being designed as six one-hour episodes…Now that the Griffin Dunne-directed mob drama “Nailed Right In” is financed, Johnny Depp is being courted to play the small but important role of a mobster who shows the ropes to a couple of wannabe wiseguys, much like Pacino did for Depp in “Donnie Brasco.” Dish hears Depp could be paid $2 million for a couple weeks work… the Jay Roach-directed, George Wing-scripted Columbia pic “Fifty First Kisses” seemed to originally be chasing Cameron Diaz to play a woman with short-term memory loss whose mate has to make her fall in love each day. Word is it’s being contemplated for a pairing of Adam Sandler and Julia Roberts. Both are based at Revolution, which has its output deal with Columbia. Even though neither has made a commitment, the stars are said to be quietly guiding a rewrite.

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