The Power Couple

With the business changing and more competition popping up in the foreign-licensing business, the couple decided to step up their game and go directly into production. They started a relationship with General Cinema Corporation, which gave them money to produce three movies, putting the Kopelsons in business.

“I really didn’t know how to produce a movie. I was learning while I was making these films, and it was a great experience for me,” Arnold admits.

With some experience under their belt, the next project to come their way would be one of their first big box office hits: The Fugitive. The Kopelsons set it up with Warner Bros. and the massively successful action drama starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones begot more success for the couple and the studio. The Kopelsons set up a deal with Warner Bros. and produced six more films back to back that resulted in enormous profits, 17 nominations, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and just about every other award created to honor movie producers.

“We always focus on the creative aspects of a project,” says Arnold. “The script comes first. If the writing is great, we can secure a great director and a great cast will follow. If you put all of that together, it can be a commercial success.”

When Arnold receives submitted scripts, he immediately visualizes the one-sheet, the primary ad for the movie, and the three-minute trailer. He and Anne discuss advertising, promotion, and the overall exploitation of the film. If they can’t formulate a strategy for success in those moments, then they know they can’t sell the movie to the public, and the script gets a pass. However, there are those rare moments when a script inspires more than just a profitable windfall. A former Vietnam veteran, director Oliver Stone, wrote just such a script.

“When I was given the script for Platoon, I had never read anything like it,” recalls Arnold. “When I finished reading, I was literally sobbing. Anne asked me what was wrong and I told her, ‘I just read the greatest script ever. It’s Academy Award time; we’ll never get closer.’ I actually had a fantasy while I was reading it of accepting the Academy Award. It was really an extraordinary event for me and it all came true!”