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De Laurentiis May Sell Its Film Library and Studio

December 12, 1987|AL DELUGACH | Times Staff Writer

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which had been seeking a prospective partner for a financial bail-out in recent weeks, Friday announced what it called a "significant restructuring," but gave very few details.

The hard-pressed Beverly Hills-based company said it "intends to remain an active producer and distributor of films." But the company stated that it may sell part or all of its film library and North Carolina studio and expects to reduce its work force, but didn't say by how much.

At last report, its bankers had given the company until Dec. 15 to increase its assets. A company filing last July disclosed that the bankers could require it to sell its library by Dec. 31.

A DEG spokesman declined to say whether the company has abandoned hope of finding a rescuer to buy out the firm or invest as a part owner. He said he could not elaborate on the announcement. Top officers were reported unavailable Friday afternoon.

Since selling shares to the public 18 months ago, the company founded by producer Dino De Laurentiis has had a virtually unbroken run of films that failed to make a profit at the American box office. The firm in October reported losses of $20.5 million for the six months ended Aug. 31.

Under reported pressure from the company's lending banks, De Laurentiis himself said in a prepared announcement Nov. 6 that he was considering resigning from his $850,000-a-year post as chairman and chief executive. The company has made no further statements on that subject since then.

"In order to move forward," Friday's announcement said, "it is necessary that we now streamline our operations and reduce overhead and debt.

"To do so, we may sell part or all of the DEG film library and the studio in Wilmington, N.C. This is consistent with DEG's overall financial plan, which includes discussions with its banks for restructuring DEG's debts and the exploration of alternative means of increasing its equity.

"As part of the restructuring and streamlining process, we anticipate a reduction in personnel to the appropriate level to carry out our mission."

Stephen Greenwald, chief operating officer and a member of the office of the president, who was quoted in the announcement, was reported to be out of the city on Friday and unavailable for questions.

Plans are being "firmed" for the release of 11 films next year, the announcement said. The names given were: "Collision Course," "Rampage," "Illegally Yours," "Vengeance, the Demon," "Traxx," "Dracula's Widow," "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," "Tapeheads," "Blue Jean Cop," "Slave Coast" and "Earth Girls Are Easy."

Greenwald was quoted as saying that the company has "numerous" projects in various stages of pre-production.

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