Sometimes discovering a gem of a film can make your career. Thus was the case with Chris Zarpas. A law school graduate, he went to work as a film buyer for the East Coast-based Circle Theatres chain. After a screening of Ethan and Joel Coen's "Blood Simple", Zarpas returned to his bosses and convinced them to establish a distribution company to handle the film. Circle Films, Inc was established with Zarpas at the helm. The company's first release, "Blood Simple" (1984) not only launched the Coen brothers as creative forces in American cinema but also Zarpas' career as well. A few years later, he joined The Walt Disney Company in the newly-created position of vice president of production and acquisitions for Touchstone Pictures. Zarpas supervised the development of numerous films, including the Bette Midler vehicles "Beaches" (1988) and "Stella" (1990). He was later elevated to president of production and acquisitions. Among the latter was "Can't Buy Me Love" (1987), a Patrick Dempsey teen-oriented film produced by Mark Burg. Burg and Zarpas became partners when they joined Island Pictures, soon rising to the rank of co-president.
The duo also had a working partnership as producers. In this capacity, Zarpas and Burg executive produced the 1991 releases "Toy Soldiers", which featured Sean Astin as the leader a band of bad apple preppies who thwart terrorists, and "Strictly Business", about race and buppies in a real estate firm. The pair was forced out of Island in 1992 after clashes with new CEO Eric Eisner. Their last Island producing venture, "The Sandlot" (1993) was about a shy, brainy boy who comes into his own playing sandlot ball in his new neighborhood.
In 1995, Zarpas was appointed president of Scott Free Productions, the newly formed production company of brothers Ridley and Tony Scott, handling features and TV programs. In addition to his business chores, Zarpas was tapped to serve as executive producer on a number of the company's motion pictures, including the Demi Moore vehicle "GI Jane" (1997) and the black comedy "Clay Pigeons" (1998), with Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix. After nearly fours, however, he left Scott Free to pursue a career as an independent producer.