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MGM/UA

New inhouse prod'n signals studio ambitions

Harry Sloan’s refashioned MGM is still widely viewed as a rent-a-studio, but the topper says distributing third-party pics from indies such as the Weinstein Co. was a means by which to get up and running after the company’s launch in 2006. In recent months, he’s been busy installing a production regime to carry out his vision for Lion-produced titles.

Leading the charge is former Universal production topper Mary Parent, who has quickly started optioning material. Paula Wagner also ankled as prexy of United Artists, giving Parent further dominion.

Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl that MGM can’t get the financing it needs and that the Lion may once again be up for sale. The challenges are stiff, but don’t underestimate the savvy Sloan.

Since Labor Day 2007, MGM’s top performing pics have come from TWC, led by Dimension’s “Halloween” ($58 million).

MGM/UA’s “Lions for Lambs” stumbled at the domestic box office with $15 million, despite an all-star cast of Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.

UA’s Cruise starrer “Valkyrie,” MGM’s only in-house-produced title for release this year, was briefly pushed back to early 2009, but then redated for Dec. 26, in time for awards consideration. MGM projects in the works include a “Fame” redo with Lakeshore, skedded for 2009, and a “Poltergeist” remake.

A number of MGM’s fall releases could help boost its profile, including “The Road,” 2929’s Cormac McCarthy adaptation that’s presented by Dimension, and TWC’s comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno. ”

MGM B.O.: $221 million

TOP PIC: “Halloween,” $58 million

TOPPERS: Harry Sloan, chairman/CEO; Mary Parent, chair, worldwide motion pictures group; Charles Cohen, senior exec VP

UP NEXT:

“Igor” (Sept. 19)

“How to Lose Friends …” (Oct. 3)

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno,”

“The Other End of the Line” (Oct. 31)

“Killshot,” “Soul Men” (Nov. 7)

“The Road” (Nov. 14)

“Fanboys” (Nov. 26)

“Crossing Over” (Dec. 3)

“Extreme Movie” (Dec. 5)

“Hurricane Season,” “Shanghai” (Dec. 25)

“Valkyrie” (Dec. 26)

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