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Can Two Columbus Projects Stay Afloat? : Movies: Producers are touting rival films to be directed by Ridley Scott and George Cosmatos. The prize--international backing.

CANNES REPORT: JACK MATHEWS. One in a series of stories from the film festival.

May 15, 1991|JACK MATHEWS

"It is never good to have two movies out on the same subject at the same time," says Wachsberger, recalling the examples of the two Oscar Wilde biographical pictures released in 1960, and the two Jean Harlow movies in 1965.

Warner Bros. won the Robin Hood duel last year by signing Kevin Costner: "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" opens June 14. But Fox will win in Europe. Its version, "Robin Hood," starring Patrick Bergin, aired Monday night on the Fox network, but it will be released theatrically in Europe before the Costner film.

In the case of Columbus, Salkind thinks he's got the better man with Dalton, the reigning James Bond; Wachsberger thinks Depardieu, hot off an Oscar-nominated performance in "Cyrano de Bergerac," is perfect timing.

Both producers acknowledge their concern over Columbus bashers who have already begun debunking the great man myth, and promising anti-Columbus actions next year. They both insist they're making "serious" movies--think "The Lion in Winter," says Salkind; think "Dances With Wolves"--combined with "Amadeus," says Wachsberger.

We'll discover the truth when the films open in about 17 months. In the meantime, if Columbus was the hustler many historians say he was, he has finally come to the right place.

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