Yari’s pic promises coming true

Exec eyeing distrib bow, prod'n co. consolidation

Last summer, Bob Yari announced his ambitions to build an independent studio to finance and distribute 10-15 pics a year.

Almost a year later, Yari has completed production or is in production on close to a dozen pics, is moving ahead with plans to launch a platform distribution business in the U.S. and is consolidating his production companies under one roof on the sixth floor of his Beverly Hills offices.

In February, Yari took a majority ownership in foreign sales shingle Syndicate Films Intl. as another step toward turning his network of companies into an independent studio.

Yari is moving ahead on projects, consolidating his 2004 slate and working on 2005 from his four production and financing labels: Stratus Film Co., Bull’s Eye Entertainment, El Camino Pictures and Bob Yari Prods.

New projects include:

  • “Find Me Guilty,” the true story of a Mafia man asked to rat on the mob who defends himself in court and wins. Sidney Lumet is attached to direct pic, with Vin Diesel in negotiations to star for Bob Yari Prods. Pic is expected to shoot in October

  • “Chasing Dinner,” Donald Petrie’s next project through Bob Yari Prods.

  • “First Snow,” with Guy Pearce (“Memento”) in negotiations to star in pic through El Camino Prods.

Yari also is in negotiations for domestic distribution rights to “Tishomingo Blues.” The adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel is directed by Don Cheadle and produced through Bull’s Eye with Section Eight.

Among Stratus projects, Yari and Mark Gordon have completed “Winter Passing,” due for release this fall through Focus Features; is in production on “The Matador” in Mexico City, starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear; and has completed Bruce Willis starrer “Hostage,” which Miramax has picked up for North American distribution.

Yari also inked a deal with Lions Gate to distribute Bob Yari Prods.’ ‘House of D,” David Duchovny’s directorial debut.

Of his distribution plans, Yari said he feels there is a “huge opportunity to build something. We want to be in the platform-releasing business, but will never be in the wide-release business. We have relationships with studios for that.

“What we’re looking at is similar in concept to a Newmarket or ThinkFilm type model. I think it’s an underserviced market.”

Yari said he expects to be involved in acquisitions and may hire an acquisitions exec, but as yet has not acquired any finished movies.

To date, the only acquisition has been “Where the Red Fern Grows,” a joint project with Crusader that Yari became involved in when the pic hit financial difficulties; Disney will handle domestic distribution.

Pic, based on the classic children’s book, was directed by Lyman Dayton and Sam Pillsbury and stars Dave Matthews, Dabney Coleman, Joseph Ashton, Ned Beatty and Kris Kristofferson.