Mel Gibson Has a New Movie; Can Stewart Till Sell It?

In “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” Mel’s back in vigilante mode. It might play better overseas.

Stewart Till is busy hawking six movies at the American Film Market, but the real question is: How is his Mel Gibson movie selling?

Till and Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik bought Icon UK from Gibson and his partner Bruce Davey a year ago. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” — Gibson’s nearly complete feature that came with the package — is his to sell internationally.

“Internationally, the whole furor is a lot less significant than it is in this town,“ said Till, referring to the phone conversations between Gibson and his wife that were shocking even given Gibson’s past rants.

He added: “We always feel that if the film is great, that will prevail.”

According to Till, who previously ran the international distribution giant UIP. “Summer Vacation” features “Mel at his best,” back in vigilante mode. He plays a criminal sent to a Mexican prison who befriends a young Mexican boy about to be preyed upon to have his liver harvested by the evil warden.

Mel plots to see justice done, and I’m guessing there’s some violent retribution involved.

Still, the resistance is bound to be greater here in the United States. (One wag I spoke to afterward said, “We all know what Mel did on his summer vacation…”)

So far, no agreements have been announced.

But however stuck Icon Productions (not to be confused with the Icon UK, now owned by Blavatnik and Till) may be with this film, it pales in comparison to Summit’s dilemma with “The Beaver.”

That $20 million movie is complete and sits on a shelf gathering dust.

Also read: Gibson Meltdown Imperils ‘Beaver’ 

But Till has many other irons in the fire. He, Blavatnik and the Weinstein Company are steaming ahead on a co-financing/co-production deal to produce between two and three movies per year at budgets under $20 million.

They hope to greenlight their first movie in the next two months.

Till says this is just the start of Blavatnik’s ambitions in the movie business.

“Icon is hopefully the first step to a bigger play,” said Till. The original plan was to model a new international distribution company on Polygram and build distribution businesses progressively in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.  

Those plans have been hampered by the murderous state of independent film distribution, and have made both Till and Blavatnik more cautious, he said.

“If you hit a bullseye, you do great. But if you hit the target, that’s not good enouogh,” he said. “The gap between success and failure right now is huge. It’s not an impossible business at the moment, but it’s very difficult.”