Mexico has begun an intriguing new program aimed at using the U.S. film industry to pay off some of its $100 billion international debt. Officials in the Mexican government announced the plan this week in Beverly Hills, where they tried to convince Hollywood studios that it's more economical and just as efficient to shoot in Mexico as in Canada; although many U.S. films requiring exotic scenery are shot south of the border these days, Canada has become an even more popular destination for moviemakers distressed by the high cost of shooting in the States.
To sweeten the pot, Mexico is offering coproductions with and financial participation by both government and private sector. But the most unusual provision of the new plan calls for some $350 million of the money raised by film productions to go directly to several of Mexico's stateside creditors, including Chase Manhattan and the Bank of America.
'Stakeout's' Big Start
"Stakeout," the picture that director John Badham insisted be referred to as a movie, not a film, is doing what summer movies are supposed to do at the box office: Two weeks ago it opened as the biggest moneymaker in the country, and its gross last weekend showed a surprising 8 percent increase. By contrast, "The Living Daylights" dropped by 35 percent in its third weekend, while "Who's That Girl," "Nadine," "Masters of the Universe" and "The Monster Squad" are all falling even faster. Still more impressively, "Stakeout" managed to hang on to the best per-screen average of any film in wide release: Its $5,487 per theater easily beat the top-grossing newcomer, "Can't Buy Me Love," and edged out the impressive totals for "No Way Out," which made $5,284 per theater, seeming to justify Orion's decision to hold the film until after "The Untouchables" came out in order to capitalize on star Kevin Costner's newfound visibility.
Fisher's Pact With Disney
So far, she's written only one unproduced movie script -- but the television show she helped create just won 20 Emmy nominations, so "L.A. Law" writer/producer Terry Louise Fisher has signed a one-year film production deal with Walt Disney Studios. Fisher, a former entertainment lawyer and prosecuting attorney, has written for television for the past several years, from "Cagney & Lacey" to TV movies to "L.A. Law," which she says will remain her first priority. Her one previous entry into the movie business was a script, "The One," which was bought by Columbia Pictures but remains unproduced; with the Disney deal, she says, she plans to concentrate on working with young writers rather than writing herself.
Steve McQueen's motion-picture debut will become the next 1950s horror film to receive a big-budget, '80s-style update. In the tradition of "The Fly," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Invaders From Mars," production begins in mid-November on a $15 million remake of "The Blob." Cinema Group Pictures plans to release the Chuck Russell-directed film next Memorial Day ... Shortly before that movie comes out, an unusual deal between International Video Entertainment's Family Home Entertainment division and Tonka toys will result in the release of "Pound Puppies: The Legend of Bigpaw." The deal was a means of capitalizing on Tonka's clout and FHE's video experience in order to make and promote a line of Tonka's children's videos -- but since FHE is owned by the film-producing firm Carolco, they'll kick things off with an Easter release of the big-screen kids' movie. And yes, the deal means that Carolco will probably make subsequent feature films based on Tonka toys.
John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion are writing the script for a film version of Norman Mailer's novel "Deer Park" ... And according to Daily Variety, Marlon Brando was asked to play a Russian general in "Rambo III," which after numerous delays will soon begin filming in Israel. Brando declined -- and reportedly he said no because he didn't want any part of a film that, in these uncertain times, depicts hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union