Ashok Amritraj's production and financing outfit Hyde Park Entertainment has added two high-level pictures to its development slate - action adventure The Hidden Kingdom which is being developed as a project for Jackie Chan with MGM and an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure novel The Outlaw Of Torn. Richard Outten is scripting the former, and Alan Adler the latter. Hyde Park has also attached Blue Crush director John Stockwell to his long-gestating Extractors which is set to go into production this year with MGM.
Amritraj, who has a three year first-look deal with MGM and a five year second-look deal with Walt Disney Co as well as a recently renewed five-year deal for continental European rights with Epsilon, is taking meetings this week at his MGM-based offices with leading independents which could access Hyde Park's output through varying distribution configurations on each picture.
Amritraj's business partnership with producer David Hoberman ended amicably last summer, and he recently hired Jon Jashni, whose producing credits include Anna And The King and Sweet Home Alabama, as Hyde Park's president.
The new slate also includes movie versions of Hearst comic-book characters Mandrake The Magician and The Phantom in conjunction with Howard Baldwin's Crusader Entertainment, a remake of 70s action classic Walking Tall starring The Rock for MGM and The Next Soldier which Hyde Park is co-producing with former Warner Bros Pictures chief Lorenzo di Bonaventura at Paramount. Hyde Park has also signed former Brillstein Grey film chief Matthew Baer, who produced A View From The Top and City By The Sea, to a first-look producing deal.
"The gameplan is to make three or four movies a year," Amritraj told Screen. "It's better to make fewer movies today and get them right. That's why I'm meeting with so many buyers here who are all looking for this level of film and are willing to pay for it. Distribution on each film is flexible, so some territories could always be available."
Amritraj observes that there are fewer solid co-financiers for studios to turn to than there were even a year ago and that he receives calls from every studio proposing financing collaborations. He says he has up to 25 projects in development at any one time, with the plan that three to four come to fruition each year. Amritrak works closely with Bennett Pozil of Natexis Banques Populaires who provides Hyde Park with its film funding credit lines.
The company has produced but not co-financed two upcoming pictures for Disney: Bringing Down The House with Steve Martin and Queen Latifah and Raising Helen with Kate Hudson and John Corbett.
The Hidden Kingdom writer Outten, who is represented by agent Jordan Bayer at Original Artists and manager Ron Mardigian, has credits including Pet Sematary II and Little Nemo as well as scripts at Disney, Fox and Paramount. The film is the story of the mythical Shangri-La and is scheduled to shoot in Asia and India.
The Outlaw Of Torn is the story of a Robin Hood-type outlaw in medieval England who doesn't realise that he is the son of the king.
Hyde Park's credits to date include Bandits, AntiTrust, What's The Worst That Could Happen', The Moonlight Mile and Original Sin.