Jay Firestone has consolidated his two LA-based film outfits, international sales company Seven Arts International and domestic distributor CanWest Films into one entity now known as Fireworks Pictures. Fireworks is a subsidiary of Firestone's CanWest Entertainment, itself a division of Toronto-based media giant CanWest Global Communications Corp.
The new company now encompasses US acquisition and production with international sales and, as Firestone told Screendaily.com yesterday, that is the message it is giving out. "It's a one stop shop. You can get domestic and international distribution, or one or the other. We are able to fully finance films."
Firestone said that international distribution, run, as was Seven Arts International, by Daniel Diamond, is the key to the operation. "CanWest is expanding dramatically into international broadcasting and has decided that it should be in the content business. That means we will be very aggressive over the next few years in buying libraries and financing films. We already produce quite heavily in TV and will be producing heavily in features." He said that he would be responsible for library acquisitions, with Diamond and CanWest Films' Bob Aronson responsible on the feature film side.
"It's really the best of both worlds," said Diamond. "We have the resources to finance and distribute worldwide under one banner, yet the flexibility to consider projects on a stand alone basis either domestically or internationally."
Seven Arts International co-financed Rules Of Engagement with Paramount Pictures and, as Fireworks, is doing the same on Rat Race, an ensemble comedy directed by Jerry Zucker with a cast including John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy, Jason Alexander, Breckin Meyer and Seth Green. The film is a loose remake of 1963 smash It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Other pictures on the slate include American Rhapsody with Paramount Classics handling domestic distribution and A Shot At Glory which stars Robert Duvall and Michael Keaton and is set to premiere at one of the fall film festivals.
On Fireworks' domestic release slate, which is distributed through IDP, a recently formed joint venture with Samuel Goldwyn Films and Stratosphere Releasing, are festival favourite Simon Magus starring Noah Taylor and Ian Holm and Sundance Film Festival entry Shadow Hours, which opened domestically on July 14. Fireworks is also partnered with Goldwyn in releasing Australian romantic comedy Better Than Sex, Liv Ullman's acclaimed Faithless and Benito Zambrano's Spanish drama Solas.
Fireworks will continue to handle international sales on projects produced by Peter Hoffman's Seven Arts Pictures in which it has a minority stake.