October 22, 1997

Banner makes ‘Climb’ buy
By Andrew Hines

Banner Pictures has acquired all North American rights to director Bob Swaim’s “The Climb” for a mid-six-figure minimum guarantee.

The drama, which stars John Hurt, Gregory Smith and David Strathairn, was penned by “Fly Away Home” co-writer Vince McKewin.

It was produced by Spellbound Pictures’ Mark McClafferty and Pamela Edwards McClafferty, and Tom Parkinson. Robert Rea of Ellipse Programme served as exec producer.

“The Climb” focuses on the friendship of a 12-year-old and his tough, hard-drinking neighbor.

The project came to Banner’s attention when the company’s management division was talking to Smith as a prospective client.

“We were blown away by the movie,” said Bob Berney, senior VP of marketing and distribution. “It’s edgy and quirky and opens with an amazing scene that just grabbed us.”

The film will probably go into theaters in May or June, said Berney, who noted that the late spring-early summer slot recently had proved successful for “Lone Star” and “Ulee’s Gold.”

“The Climb” is Banner’s first acquisition. It’s first release, “Telling Lies in America,” was produced by Banner and Fran Kuzui. The Guy Ferland-helmed coming-of-age story opened exclusively in New York Friday and expands to about 18 theaters this weekend.

Swaim’s previous pictures include “La Balance,” which received three Cesars, including best picture. His other credits include “Masquerade” and “Half Moon Street.”

Smith, whose credits include “Harriet the Spy,” was recently cast in DreamWorks’ Joe Dante-helmed “Small Soldiers.”

Hurt was Oscar-nominated for “The Elephant Man” and “Midnight Express.” He most recently appeared in Warner Bros.’ “Contact.”