Home on the Range

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Young Guns
(1988) $45.6 million
Few people in the industry believed in the chances of any Western doing well at the boxoffice in the late 1980s, let alone one with a bunch of largely untested young actors and produced by a brand-new company. But Morgan Creek Prods.' James G. Robinson had faith in himself and his cast of "unknowns," who included Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips and Charlie Sheen. The story of Billy the Kid riding the New Mexico range with his gang of gunmen was a hit with young audiences and spawned a sequel two years later.

Major League
(1989) $49.8 million
Robinson proved in the early years of Morgan Creek that he could attract top talent, but 1988's "Dead Ringers," directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeremy Irons as twin gynecologists, and 1989's "Skin Deep," directed by Blake Edwards and starring John Ritter as a drunk, womanizing writer, barely registered at the domestic boxoffice. But 1989's "Major League" put the company, well, into the major leagues. Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen and Corbin Bernsen star as past-their-prime baseball players, drafted for a team that a widow is hoping stands no chance of winning. When the players realize that she's scheming to move the franchise to another city, they start winning games to keep the team where it is. Robinson tackled a subject that Hollywood traditionally steered clear of, but he was convinced this particular baseball story would work -- and its solid performance led to a 1994 sequel.

Pacific Heights
(1990) $29.4 million
After buying a historic house in one of San Francisco's wealthiest neighborhoods, a young couple (Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith) begin renovating the structure and decide to rent out an apartment on the first floor to cover some of their costs. Michael Keaton plays the tenant from hell in this thriller from Oscar-winning British director John Schlesinger. Although the film itself is otherwise forgettable, Robinson formed one of his strongest bonds with the director during production, and they remained friends until Schlesinger died in 2003. Schlesinger, along with Paul Mazursky, remains at the top of Robinson's list of favorite directors.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
(1991) $165.5 million
Risking much of his own cash to fast-track the "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" script from Pen Densham and John Watson, Robinson refused to back down in the face of competition from at least two other Robin Hood projects in the works at the time. Despite having a serious falling out with director Kevin Reynolds during production, the tenacious Robinson demonstrated his savvy once again with a film that paid off handsomely at the boxoffice, giving Morgan Creek the highest-grossing movie in its short history. Kevin Costner stars as the titular character, who, along with his band of merry men, sets out to defeat the Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchmen.

The Last of the Mohicans
(1992) $75.5 million
Based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper, "The Last of the Mohicans" tells the story of a white man and two young American Indians making their way through the wilderness of New York's Hudson Valley during the French and Indian War. Michael Mann directs a cast that stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe and Russell Means. In addition to winning an Oscar for best sound, the film gave Robinson one of the most critically acclaimed in his library, and one that continues to earn substantial revenue.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

(1994) $72.2 million
Although Jim Carrey had a few film credits under his belt when Robinson tapped him
to star in this wacky comedy, the former "In Living Color" comedian was still seen mainly as TV talent. But when audiences took a gander at "Ace Ventura," Carrey's career took off, firmly establishing him as a big-screen presence and giving Morgan Creek another comedy hit. Robinson quickly followed up the success with "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" the following year.

Heist
(2001) $23.5 million
It might not have stolen gold at the boxoffice, but writer-director David Mamet's crime drama demonstrated just how versatile Morgan Creek can be. Robinson went straight from 2000's Jennifer Lopez drama "Angel Eyes" and the same year's flying-Elvis comedy "3,000 Miles to Graceland" to this twisty-turny noirish story starring the legendary Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. Reviews were mixed, but its release date -- almost one month to the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 -- probably didn't help, either.

Exorcist: The Beginning
(2004) $41.8 million
Talk about a contentious production. Writer-director Paul Schrader shot a complete version of "Exorcist: The Beginning" only to find Robinson completely unimpressed with his interpretation. Robinson fired Schrader and replaced him with Renny Harlin -- and shelled out millions for reshoots. But despite all of the drama surrounding the final cut of the film, Robinson ultimately made amends by releasing both Harlin's and Schrader's versions of the film on DVD.

The Good Shepherd
(2006) $59.9 million
One of Robinson's most expensive movies in recent years, this $90 million period piece exploring the history of the CIA was a dream project for writer Eric Roth. Unfortunately, even with a late-year release date and a cast that includes Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robert De Niro (who also directed), the film fizzled at the boxoffice and earned only one Oscar nomination -- for art direction. Although insiders say the film's lackluster performance has hurt Morgan Creek, Robinson continues plowing ahead and looking forward to this weekend's release, Universal's "Georgia Rule."
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