EXCLUSIVE: Producer Felissa Rose Talks Return of Iconic Action Movie Studio Carolco Pictures

By January 24, 2015
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As most people working in the industry can likely tell you, the business of making movies can be an extremely risky endeavor with the possibility of unimaginable reward. That idea might have no greater expression than the rise and fall of Carolco Pictures, which went from creating blockbuster franchises like Rambo and The Terminator to being totally bankrupt within a decade. Sometimes, though, fate can be surprisingly generous in giving you a second chance, and it looks as though fate has smiled on the name of the once revered production company, since it’s back in business.

History: Death and Rebirth

Carolco was made by the success of First Blood, the adaptation of the novel starring Sylvester Stallone.

The original Carolco was made by the success of First Blood, the adaptation of the novel starring Sylvester Stallone.

Originally established in 1976, Carolco Pictures was formed by a partnership between veteran movie producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna. While initially specializing in low-budget films, the company took a tremendous risk by buying the very expensive film rights to First Blood, and had to take out European bank loans in order to secure the film’s lead star, Sylvester Stallone, who had a high asking price coming off of the success of Rocky.

The risk paid off, as the film adaptation, produced on a $14 million budget, went on to gross over $125 million worldwide, positioning the young company as a major player in Hollywood. After some Rambo sequels and co-financing the highly successful and critically acclaimed Terminator 2: Judgment Day and other major action films like Basic InstinctUniversal Soldier, and Cliffhanger, some less successful films put the company in dire straits, and it was forced to close its doors in 1996.

Now, though, after nearly 20 years out of the game, a partnership between Bricktop Productions and Mario Kassar have fused into a new version of Carolco Pictures. Kassar, who joined the new endeavor in an effort to get his latest film, Audition, produced, brings with him the reputation of being an experienced producer of some extremely successful action films, as well as being very closely identified with the Carolco name.

Still, though, Kassar isn’t the only one hoping to make the new effort a success, as the newly branded studio also has a lot of new blood in its veins.

New Eyes for a New Vision

Actress and producer Felissa Rose, who will be co-hosting the new GeekNation original series “Rewind,” has recently been named co-Head of Independent Genre Film Development along with producer/director Harrison Smith. Speaking exclusively with us on the studio’s reformation, she showed a great level of enthusiasm for her new job. “We will run the genre department and bring forth exciting, original and creative films that will thrill and entertain a wide range of audiences,” she said. “It’s a tremendous honor to be a part of Carolco Pictures. Having grown up on these remarkable movies produced by Mario Kassar makes me feel sensational to be a part of it today!”

Producer and actress Felissa Rose serves the new Carolco as the co-Head of Independent Genre Film Development, and is ready to make movies that resonate with people.

Producer and actress Felissa Rose serves the new Carolco as the co-Head of Independent Genre Film Development, and is ready to make movies that resonate with people.

When it comes to reviving the Carolco Pictures name, Rose was very adamant that seeking new business with that recognizable brand is very important to what the team wants to do in seeking out new business opportunities and projects. “[Reviving the name] is the most important part of what we’re doing with this stupendous brand. We’ve been collaborating with extraordinary talent so we can produce movies that take audiences to new levels of entertainment,” she said.

Rose also emphasized her desire to seek out more unique projects in order to give audiences new experiences. She said, “I honestly feel like we only care about the original content, and the passion of the pool we draw from so that our audience will feel our love for what we do. It’s entertainment, and we want to give them an experience which was created by Carolco, and should [resonate] throughout the years to come.”

The Future for Carolco

Coming from a background in the industry, Rose also feels that her previous experience and passion for creation and expression will be a feather in the cap for Carolco going forward. “Having been in this industry for many years, I feel like I understand the personal connection, the puzzle sorting and the big picture that it takes to make movies,” she said.

She continued by saying, “I’m most passionate about filmmaking, and I really think with this exceptional team they’ve assembled, we can make important movies. It will always be fun, but [we also want them to be] smart. I want to reach people and make sense with what we’re creating. It’s always the best when you walk away from a film feeling touched  — or tortured — in a way that cuts to your core. Just being moved is awesome!”

As for the future of Carolco, and what’s on deck for the future, Rose was playfully tight lipped, but also willing to share what kinds of genres new projects will dabble in. “We will surprise you! Definitely genre films which incorporate horror, thriller, and sci-fi. I’m a fan of many genres, so it will depend on the scripts, and what we feel is completely original for audiences to fall in love with. Big boundaries!”

Here at GeekNation, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on whatever Carolco has in the pipeline. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see what the company is ready to “wow” audiences with when the time is right. With the enthusiasm of Felissa Rose behind it, it sounds like there will be a lot to look forward to.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.