Local Film Co. Good Machine Bulking Up with Big Budget 'Hulk' Flick
Thursday, February 28 2002
Posted on NYPOST.com
By PAULA FROELICH
3, 2002 -- When the name Ang Lee, who directed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon," is mentioned, few people might conjure the image of a TV junkie
hooked on ballroom dancing.
But that's just what comes to mind for producer James Schamus.
Schamus - along with his partners in the Good Machine production company partners, Ted Hope and David Linde - are currently producing one of the most talked about movies of the year, "The Hulk."
The movie isn't scheduled to come out until the summer of 2003, but there's substantial buzz building around the film and its hunky star, Eric Bana.
For Schamus, however, he can't shake the vision of his Oscar-nominated director glued to the tube.
"Ang [Lee] and I stayed in this house in Hollywood for about a week [in January] and just rewrote the script, getting it into shape," Schamus said.
"I don't really watch much TV, so I would spend the off time just reading and when I went downstairs, there would be Ang in front of the [satellite] television, watching competitive ballroom dancing," Schamus laughed.
"He would look at me, very confused, and just say, 'There's so many channels!' "
Whether Lee was gleaning choreography tips from the dancers or just simply brushing up his own moves, Lee didn't say, according to the producer.
And how will "The Hulk" turn out?
"It is going to be great movie," offered Hope, "but its not out for a while - and there's so much we have going on right now."
Indeed. While Miramax - the studio run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein - is New York's best-known production and film distribution company, Good Machine is nipping at their heels.
This year alone, Good Machine had three films at Sundance - "The Laramie Project," "Human Nature" and Todd Solondz's "Storytelling" - all of which were sold before showing at the festival.
"We were lucky," Hope said. "That's not how it always is."
The company's Sundance 2001 movie, "In The Bedroom" is currently up for an Oscar, and Good Machine's 2000 submission, "The Tao of Steve," turbo-started Donal Logue's career.
In the Canal Street offices of Good Machine, all is well.
Ironically, the firm's biggest competitor in the city is also a partner.
Good Machine has teamed with Miramax on "The Importance of Being Earnest," starring Rupert Everett and Reese Witherspoon (it's due out in May), and on Joaquin Phoenix's "Buffalo Soldiers."
The company was formed by Schamus - an associate film professor at Columbia University - and Hope in 1991. The two brought out the thriller, "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," "Sense and Sensibility" and "The Brothers McMullen."
What the two needed was someone to handle the business end of things, so they reached out to David Linde in 1997.
Linde was thrilled to become the third partner.
"I had worked at Miramax since it began [in 1992] - I was the executive vice president of sales - and I just thought I could do the same thing with another company," he said.
Linde, a sales and distribution wiz, started Good Machine International - which handles overseas sales and distribution for films by the likes of Pedro Almodovar, Spike Jonze and Joel and Ethan Coen.
All three are very proud of their accomplishments and recognized that "The Hulk" could be their biggest hit.
"It is costing around $120 million - our most expensive movie to date," Hope said. Filming starts in a month in L.A.
Said Schamus: "I was directly involved in picking Eric [Bana]. I really liked his work in 'Chopper' and thought he was a great actor. He's also a comedian in Australia."
As for working with Lee - that was a no-brainer. Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott have all signed on with Bana to portray the story of Dr. David Banner - a scientist exposed to radiation who turns big and green and goes nuts when angered.
We can't wait.
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