by Mike Jones
In a discreet press conference, Paul Cohen and Richard Abramowitz of Stratosphere
Entertainment, the new distribution company financed by Wall Street maverick Carl
Icahn, announced the heavily anticipated first batch of an aggressive release
slate. It will be a part of twelve films the company plans to release this year.
Joined by Patriot Film's Michael Mendelsohn and actor Stephen Baldwin ("The
Usual Suspects"), Stratosphere stated they'll put "seven figures" into the
acquisition and distribution on the North American side of Patriot's "One Tough
Cop", starring Baldwin, directed by Bruno Baretto ("A Show of Force", "Carried
Away") and produced by Martin Bregman ("Dog Day Afternoon", "Carlito's Way").
Mendelsohn, who brokered the deal with Strat, said he took less for the film
than what was offered by an interested, unnamed major distributor, because he
believed in the company's approach. Described by the enthusiastic Baldwin as
"a fucking old school cop movie" via the NYPD, Paul Cohen stated it will put
300-400 prints in theaters in late fall.
Other films announced -- for a smaller, North American platform release in the
Fall -- include Katja von Garnier's "Bandits", about four female convicts who
form a prison-yard rock band, and Adam Bernstein's "Six Ways to Sunday", a black
comedy of a boy's rise through the mob ranks as an enforcer. Additionally, Strat
acquired the world rights to Dan Zukovic's L.A. satire "The Last Big Thing" about
a mock-journalist who interviews, then openly insults, his subjects for a fake
magazine. Although specific numbers weren't given, Richard Abramowitz told iW
that the filmmakers will receive "some money" as a small advance, but that the company
will spend significant P&A money to distribute the films. He would not comment on any
additional money that filmmakers might receive through back-end deals.
Cohen also planted seeds concerning the company's move to production within a
year, but only after a distribution base has been established. "I've never had
this kind of capital to work with," he said. "Apparently, Carl had a very
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