Since Nichols took the risky--and highly unusual--step of buying the rights himself, however, no studio is yet involved. By summer's end, however, he has to decide who will finance the shoot that he hopes will begin in January. His alternatives: going with any of a host of interested studios (all but one have expressed interest, he said) or financing the movie in Europe or Asia and selecting a U.S. distributor down the road.
"If I financed it abroad, I'd own the movie but be involved in a huge Monopoly game during the shoot, lining up nine countries for the production, then two more for prints and advertising," Nichols said. "Besides, there's something cleaner and simpler about the guys you know. If MGM/UA hadn't just been sold, I'd go with my old friend [United Artists chief] John Calley, a guy who knows what's his job and what's yours. But it will take some time before we see where everyone lands."
For all the hassles Hollywood can pose, Winkler maintained, it's the better alternative by far. "I've made about 40 movies, 38 of them financed by majors," he said. "If you think the studios are tough, you should see the guy buying video rights for Bangkok giving you notes on the script . . . not to mention eunuchs advising you on casting."