Mario Kassar - Film Producer

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May 23, 2014

At 18 years old, Mario Kassar made his first film which led him to team with Hungarian Andrew G. Vajna shortly thereafter.

The two moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1970s to begin their career as filmmakers, and Kassar quickly became known as a creative producer in the L.A. motion pictures industry; also noted as one of the inventors of the foreign market and co-pro financing.

Kassar has been involved with a number of motion pictures within the United States and world-wide. Hailing from the Middle East, his taste in film has certainly been enough to please audiences all over.

Kassar's early efforts as an independent filmmaker began with small scale release films such as "The Amateur" and "Victory" while starting Carolco International, his own independent theatrical motion picture distribution company in 1976. Kassar and Vajna began releasing a slew of independent features and first hit with the release of the Rambo franchise First Blood (1982) starring Syllvester Stallone, which was a major motion picture in 1982. Stallone was rumored to have signed a 10 picture deal with Carolco allowing the sequel "First Blood: Rambo II".

Total Recall (1990) and The "Terminator" franchise are the most memorable pictures Kassar was associated with. Both stories starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, and were produced through Carolco (excluding Part One of Terminator which was financed by Orion).

In 1989, Vajna resigned from his position at Carolco Pictures to start Cinergi Pictures, making Kassar the sole owner of the company.

Other Carolco productions included the under water thriller "DeepStar Six", the erotic suspenseful "Basic Instinct", "Cliffhanger" - a Stallone vehicle also a hit in 1993, the success of the Roland Emmerich sci-fi film "Stargate" established a cable series in 1997 entitled Stargate SG-1 (1997) starring Richard Dean Anderson. Worth mentioning is "Chaplin" with Robert Downey Jr. playing the life of legendary actor Charlie Chaplin.

As budgets for Carolco's films grew, the box office intake and diminishing VHS market began to collapse the financial structure by 1995. The failures of both "Cutthroat Island" and "Showgirls" forced Kassar to file Carolco Pictures into bankruptcy.

Kassar re-opened a production company in 2002 called C-2 Pictures to produce "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," which was one of the most expensive films that year. The 2003 release allowed a window for the franchise to gain new-life.

Kassar, at 58 years old, is still making pictures, however is very family oriented and enjoys committing his time to his real-life affairs. Kassar will be most remembered for helping to create a successful business model for the international market. With the efforts of other pioneers like Dino De Laurentiis, Kassar and Vajna paved-the-way for Hollywood foreign sales and exhibition -- their effort during the 1980s is now the 'industry standard' in today's Studio system. 


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