Moammar Kadafi is not a name that many Americans attending this month's Cannes Film Festival want to think about. But for Zord International Inc., a Nevada-based production company, Kadafi is the only reason for going.
"We're concerned a little about it (the threat of terrorism in Cannes)," said Robert L. Winter, Zord's chief executive officer, "but the script has already been written and the time is ripe. We expect to raise all the money we need there."
"Target Gaddafi" ("We prefer the Time magazine spelling," Winter said) tells the story of a band of unsanctioned American assassins who penetrate Libya and engage the troops of Col. Kadafi (the preferred spelling here at The Times). Winter said the script was completed eight months ago and that Zord had put up $2 million of its $5-million budget. But it took the American raid on Libya to get other investers interested.
"The attack on Tripoli got things moving," Winter said. "We raised $500,000 immediately."
In the last two weeks, Winter said another $2 million has been committed and no matter how much they raise in Cannes, the movie--rewritten to include the April air raid and subsequent events--will go into production in the Nevada desert July 4.
"Nevada looks just like Libya," Winter said.
"Target Gaddafi" will be directed by Charles Nizet, described by Winter as a French cinematographer and special-effects expert. Nizet also wrote the script.
The cast has not been set, but Winter said he is negotiating with a well-known action star to play the leader of the American assault force and that Kadafi will be played by "absolute lookalike." (Somebody call the colonel in Tripoli; the promise of a film career may end this whole mess.)
Winter said Zord is already plotting a sequel. Does that mean Kadafi will escape his assassins in the movie?
"The sequel depends on what happens in the next few months," he said. "If he (Kadafi) is still alive when we finish shooting, he will be alive at the end of the movie. If he dies, we'll come up with a different angle."
For the sake of his investment, Winter acknowledges that he hopes Kadafi survives. If the sequel falls through, Winter said he thinks Kadafi as a moving target would make a great TV series.
"There is no message or psychological development," said Winter, adding that most of the film's budget will be spent on special effects and explosives. "It's for the general public. It's pure entertainment."
SUMMER DERBY: Will Sylvester Stallone, whose "Rambo" won last summer's championship and whose "Rocky IV" won the Christmas title, make it three in a row with this summer's "Cobra"?
Will newly wed Arnold Schwarzenegger kiss a girl in "Raw Deal"?
Which picture will win the battle of the sequels--"Karate Kid II," "Poltergeist II," "Alien II," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II," "Psycho III" or "John Hughes' Lonesome Teenager IV" (also known as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off")?
Multiple choice: This summer's version of "Friday the 13th" makes how many in this thrilling slasher series: a. III; b. VI; c. IX; d. XIII. (Tiebreaker: In Roman numerals, rounded off to the nearest C, how many teen-agers has Jason's corpse killed?)
True or false: New World Pictures will release a film this summer about a boy who puts a potent peanut butter concoction on his bald head and is then kidnaped when it's discovered that his new hair has magical powers as a paintbrush and . . . (oh, never mind, it's true; it's called "The Peanut Butter Solution").
You skim through the list of this summer's movies and you may decide to cancel your travel plans. It's a tough call, Cabo San Lucas or "Class of Nuke 'em High."
In some ways, it's a typical summer; something for every kid, nothing for most adults. Sequels, science-fiction (robots and nuclear waste-conceived monsters are the most common topics), horror. And, of course, Stallone.
We already know that two of the biggest hits are going to be "Cobra" and "Raw Deal," whose promotional campaigns have the same upbeat appeal.
"Crime is a disease," goes the billboard teaser on "Cobra," which features a snarling Stallone holding a machine gun. "Meet the cure."
"The system gave him a raw deal," says the ad slogan for "Raw Deal." "NOBODY gives Arnold Schwarzenegger a raw deal."
There are a few hopeful entries for older moviegoers:
"Heartburn," a drama of marital infidelity, was directed by Mike Nichols and stars Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Robert Redford and Debra Winger get involved in the sophisticated Ivan Reitman comedy "Legal Eagles." Gene Wilder has "Haunted Honeymoon," which looks a little like "Young Frankenstein."
We'll get to see Whoopi Goldberg again, in a spy drama called "Jumpin' Jack Flash." And the director trio that did "Airplane" is back with "Ruthless People," starring Bette Midler.
For families, George Lucas has two movies, the Jim Henson fantasy "Labyrinth" and "Howard the Duck," a live-action adaptation of the Marvel Comics star.
Sunday's Calendar will list all 125 movies scheduled for release during the next four months. In the meantime, here are 10 that exhibitors and other industry sources mention as most likely to dominate the season's business.
1. "Cobra." The box office has been sick. Meet the cure.
2. "Poltergeist II." They're back.
3. "Aliens." So are they.
4. "Raw Deal." Flex time.
5. "The Karate Kid, II." Machio and Morita, together again.
6. "Top Gun." Teeny-boppers will line up for Tom Cruise.
7. "SpaceCamp." From the producers of "WarGames."
8. "Howard the Duck." By Lucas, out of Universal.
9. "Labyrinth." The trailer looks great.
10. "Short Circuit." Robot boogie has Hollywood buzzing.