Mario Kassar

Producer, Executive, Distributor
A major figure in international film distribution turned studio head and leading producer of big-budget Hollywood action fare, Kassar is reputed to be the youngest person to ever form his own foreign distribution ... Read more »
Born: 10/09/1951 in Lebanon

Filmography

Producer (41)

Terminator Salvation 2009 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles 2007 - 2009 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction 2006 (Movie)

(Producer)

Left for Dead 2006 (Movie)

(Producer)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003 (Movie)

(Producer)

I Spy 2002 (Movie)

(Producer)

Lolita 1998 (Movie)

(Producer)

Cutthroat Island 1995 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Last of the Dogmen 1995 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Showgirls 1995 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Stargate 1994 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Cliffhanger 1993 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Heaven and Earth 1993 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Aces: Iron Eagle III 1992 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Basic Instinct 1992 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Chaplin 1992 (Movie)

(Producer)

Light Sleeper 1992 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Universal Soldier 1992 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

L.A. Story 1991 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Rambling Rose 1991 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Robin Hood 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Doors 1991 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Air America 1990 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Jacob's Ladder 1990 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Mountains of the Moon 1990 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Narrow Margin 1990 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Total Recall 1990 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

DeepStar Six 1989 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Johnny Handsome 1989 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Iron Eagle II 1988 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Rambo III 1988 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Red Heat 1988 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Angel Heart 1987 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Extreme Prejudice 1987 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Rambo: First Blood Part II 1985 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

First Blood 1982 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Victory 1981 (Movie)

(Associate Producer)

The Amateur 1980 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Changeling 1978 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Silent Partner 1977 (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

A major figure in international film distribution turned studio head and leading producer of big-budget Hollywood action fare, Kassar is reputed to be the youngest person to ever form his own foreign distribution company, Kassar Films International. Created in 1969 when the future mogul was a mere 18, the firm specialized in the sale, distribution, and exhibition of feature films throughout Asia and Europe. Before long Kassar also boasted successful offices in Rome and Paris. In 1976, he formed Carolco Pictures, Inc. with partner Andrew Vajna, whom he had met while on a business trip to Hong Kong. Kassar and Vajna moved from distribution and sales into production in 1978.

Carolco became a major force among independent production companies due to the immense success of the "Rambo" action series beginning with the relatively modest but compelling "First Blood" (1982). The first sequel, the controversial and influential "Rambo: First Blood II" (1985) was a much bigger hit, grossing over $300 million. Sylvester Stallone's portrait of the sullen Vietnam vet turned secret weapon became a pop icon of the 1980s. Vajna departed Carolco in December 1989, selling his interests in the company to Kassar, who became sole chair.

Though Kassar may be best known for presiding over some of the biggest action blockbusters of the last decade, particularly several of Arnold Schwarzenegger's greatest hits ("Total Recall" 1991; "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" 1991), he has also executive produced a number of commercially risky projects. These intriguing features include "Mountains of the Moon" (1990), an account of the adventures of Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke in 19th century Africa; "Rambling Rose" (1991), an evocative family drama set in 30s Georgia; "Light Sleeper", a stylish downbeat film noir from writer-director Paul Schrader; and the lovingly detailed biopic "Chaplin" (both 1992). The notorious erotic thriller "Basic Instinct" (1992) raised some hackles but cleaned up at the box office.

Besides Stallone and Schwarzenegger, Kassar has also collaborated with stalwart action director Walter Hill ("Extreme Prejudice" 1987; "Red Heat" 1988; "Johnny Handsome" 1989). Subsequent credits include the enjoyable Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle "Universal Soldier" (1992), Renny Harlin's slick thriller "Cliffhanger", which restored Stallone to the box-office heights, and Oliver Stone's ambitious misfire "Heaven and Earth" (both 1993). He executive produced the surprise sci-fi hit "Stargate" (1994) and two high profile, critically lambasted efforts in 1995: "Showgirls" and "Cutthroat Island".

In 1995, Kassar entered into negotiations to sell Carolco with Fox emerging as the most interested party. When a deal had not been struck by mid-November, Carolco filed for bankruptcy protection and Kassar resigned as chairman. Fox subsequently purchased Carolco for a reported $50 million. A French company, Chargeurs, had purchased the rights to Adrian Lyne's remake of "Lolita" (1997) which Kassar executive produced. In January 1996, it was announced that Kassar had signed a non-exclusive three-year first-look deal with Paramount.

Relationships

Denise Richard

Companion

Dina Kassar

Wife

Milestones

1998

Reteamed with Andy Vajna

1995

Carolco filed Chapter 11 in November

1995

Kassar signed non-exclsive three-year first look deal with Paramount (announced in January 1996)

1995

Kassar resigned as chairman of Carolco

1991

US TV debut, "Robin Hood" on Fox (released theatrically abroad)

1989

Bought Vajna's interests in Carolco; became sole chair of Carolco

1987

First collaboration with writer-director Walter Hill, "Extreme Prejudice"

1982

Breakthrough Carolco production, "First Blood", the first Rambo movie (also executive produced two sequels)

1981

First credit as associate producer, "Victory"; first film with Sylvester Stallone

1979

First credit as executive producer, "The Changeling"

1978

First film as producer (also first Carolco production), "The Silent Partner"

1976

Became partners with Vajna and formed Carolco to distribute films worldwide

1968

At age 18, formed Kassar Films International, a company specializing in the sale, distribution, and exhibition of films in Asia and Europe

Formed MK Prods.

Successfully established offices in Rome and Paris

Expanded Carolco into the production and financing end of independent films

Met distribution company owner Andrew Vajna while on a trip to Hong Kong

Bonus Trivia

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"Mario excels at producing majot action-adventure films with high-level directors and casts that have worldwide appeal. He also brings creative financing arrangements to the films he makes."--Paramount executive Sherry Lansing quoted in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, January 4, 1996

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