United Artists' plunked down what sources said was $500,000 outright for J.D. Zeik's political thriller "Ronin" for producer Frank Mancuso Jr. Zeik's deal, sealed earlier this week after three weeks of discussion, increases to $750,000 if the budget of the film surpasses $20 million, sources said. "Ronin," which translates to "masterless samurai," was picked up in turnaround from TriStar Pictures, and is about several ex- CIA types from various governments who are brought together for a mysterious job. Desperate for work after the Cold War, the group signs on only to find themselves in a double-cross. As the caper goes awry, the true character of each member of the group surfaces and moralities are slowly revealed.
Mancuso was the producer on MGM's box office hit "Species," as well as "Fled." The producer's "Hoodlum," which stars Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia, bows March 28.
Paul Kelmenson, who manages Zeik, is expected to receive an executive producer credit.
Zeik recently completed an adaptation on the Robert Ferrigno novel "Horse Latitude" for producer Larry Gordon at Universal. He also scripted "Luke Cage" for producer Ed Pressman at Universal, a project that has John Singleton attached to direct. Zeik was repped in the negotiation by Kelmenson with attorney Steven Dembitzer.
Copyright 1997 Variety Inc.
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