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Empire State

December 20, 1987|Leonard Klady

Sources inside and outside Charles Band's Empire Pictures ("Ghoulies," "Assault of the Killer Bimbos," "Re-Animator") are telling us that the company is suffering "money troubles"--but estimates differ as to how serious.

We've been told by some sources that there have been up to 20 terminations, extending into production and casting departments. A key story exec is gone, and the company is reportedly no longer using outside readers for script analysis.

But president Andy Pfeffer insisted: "We're operating with a full complement of people. We've recently let six minor clerical people go and one person in our story department. Otherwise, everything is business as usual."

But insiders say the ambitious company--Band is well known for promising big production schedules--is reeling because of a weakened U.S. dollar. A former staffer reports being told shortly before leaving that the Empire studio outside Rome was sold in order to cover outstanding loan payments.

Pfeffer conceded that the company is entertaining overtures from potential buyers, but Band categorically denied the studio has been sold.

"We're shooting 'Catacombs' and 'Arena' in Italy right now and have 'Subterraneans' and two other projects to follow," Band said. "Because of the exchange rate on the dollar, we've shifted some production to the States and cut expenses but that's just being fiscally responsible. We're trying to consolidate our operations in L.A. into one building and that turns into people saying we're selling off real estate.

"I've heard lots of rumors about our health," Band added, "and that's all they are--rumors."

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