Filmmaker Goes For The Gold With Olympic Flick

Posted: February 03, 1999

A real-life action adventure yarn starring Olympic champions should serve as a solid foundation for a successful movie.

But its filmmaker, Wayne-based MegaSystems, didn't stop there.

``Olympic Glory,'' the first-ever 70 millimeter film about the Olympics, is the new movie at the Franklin Institute Science Museum's Tuttleman Omniverse Theater.

The movie is MegaSystems' first foray into what's called large format film production. Under that three-dimensional format, the audience can feel like its surrounded from top-to-bottom and side-to-side by the film.

Among ``Olympic Glory's'' other strengths: One of the film's producers is Frank Marshall, whose credits include the ``Indiana Jones'' trilogy, ``Who Framed Roger Rabbit'' and ``The Color Purple.'' Executive producer Kathleen Kennedy's credits as producer include ``E.T.'' and ``Jurassic Park.'' Scriptwriter is Thomas Keneally, who has written more than 30 novels and who wrote the book that later was turned into the movie, ``Schindler's List.''

``We had the most world-class team that has ever done a large format movie,'' said Hilary Grinker, president and chief executive of MegaSystems. Crews totalling 60 people worked in Japan to film the 1998 Winter Games, bigger than for most of the large format productions, because ``we had to cover so many events,'' she said.

The decision by the local company, which employs 45 full-time workers, to do the film began ``when we first got into the business four years ago. We knew we wanted to get into the software end of it,'' said Grinker, noting that software in her business means the actual movies.

The movie cost $4.5 million to produce; additional marketing costs boosted the budget to more than $6 million.

It is now playing in Philadelphia; Norway; Huntsville, Ala.; and New York - where it premiered last month. At the premiere, the media also gathered because of interest over the Olympics corruption scandal, knowing that Olympic chief investigator and executive Dick Pound was going to be there.

Ten more theaters are signed up.

Grinker said the hope is to penetrate 50 percent of the 200 theaters around the world that can show the movie.

``Basically, we sought the most widely recognized brand in the world,'' Grinker said, explaining why the topic was chosen for the company's first large format project. ``We thought it would have universal appeal, involving elements of science and terrific messages that go deeper and richer than the Olympics - like overcoming diversity, teamwork, human spirit, how we push ourselves to go beyond our limits physically with all types of terrific messages that make the film great for families and school groups.''

Science topics deal with gravity, friction, speed. ``We talk about how people fly through the air. . . . It's an action-packed, exciting, terrific experience.''

Tony Sorrentino, spokesman at the Franklin Institute, said people are coming out to see the film. ``People are loving it. They're really enjoying the movie.''

Send e-mail to meltzem@phillynews.com.

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