We broke the news exclusively, first, before Deadline, that a sequel to Lionsgate and Millennium Films’ Texas Chainsaw 3D was given the green light. Apparently, we both spoke too soon.
The site has received word from the rights holders, producer Carl Mazzocone and executive producer Mark Burg, that the green light wasn’t Millennium Films chief Avi Lerner’s to give and they were surprised because no progress on this sequel has yet been made.
According to Mazzocone, its timing is his to dictate, and he and Burg say nothing will happen until they work out the creative beats with domestic distributor Lionsgate.
“The rights are controlled by Carl and Main Line Pictures, no matter what Millennium says,” Burg told the site. “Millennium simply sold the foreign rights and they will not tell us when a sequel is ready to be made. The script was developed by Carl, myself and writer/director John Luessenhop. Millennium and about ten producers came aboard only when we needed their check. Maybe they’re looking for something to sell at Berlin, but they have no right to announce this sequel and if we make another it has to be as good or better than this one and that takes time.”
A spokesperson for Millennium said the company is contractually part of any sequel, and that it served an important role in getting the movie made. “I understand all this wrestling about credit, but you show me a producer who’ll turn down the cash they need to do a sequel, and I will fall off my chair. Without us, that movie would not have gotten made.”
This wouldn’t be the first time when a surprise hit leads to everyone and his brother jumping up to take credit. Mazzocone and Burg were surprised yesterday when the Los Angeles Times did a big glowing profile on Lati Grobman and Christa Campbell, who were trumpeted as producers in the headline, but who are listed as executive producers in the credits. Mazzocone and Burg said they were kissed into those credits at the request of Lerner, and that they served no creative role and barely if at all showed up on the set. Millennium countered that they convinced Lerner to get involved, since Texas Chainsaw 3D isn’t usually up his alley.
Mazzocone has spent subsequent years mostly line producing films for others, until he got involved in Texas Chainsaw 3D in 2008. When Texas-based rights holders Kim Henkel (cowriter of the original film) and Bob Kuhn looked to make a new deal after Platinum Dunes generated several films for New LIne, Mazzocone found the $1 million needed to lock down the property. Lionsgate, which distributed the lucrative Saw series for Burg, stepped up and originally planned to fully finance. That changed when the company had a cash crunch fighting a Carl Icahn takeover.
Lionsgate committed to $25 million P&A, but wanted a partner to take foreign and raise the production budget through pre-sales. Mazzocone and Burg enlisted Millennium, where Danny Dimbort pre-sold enough territories to cover most of the $15 million budget. Lerner has half the copyright on the new hit movie, but the franchise rights are held by Mazzocone, who had made multi-picture deals with the cast and who squarely deserves the love for reviving a franchise promising enough that others want credit for it.
For his part, Mazzocone credited the Lionsgate marketing campaign, with its numerous one-sheets, trailers and TV spots, for giving the film the needed momentum for a strong opening weekend. “The movie was smart and we won’t move forward until we’re in synch with Lionsgate to make sure the next one is as good or better.”