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Chip Maker Gets Warner Bros. to Erase Its Name from Action Film

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeking to head off a dispute with a feisty Texas computer chip manufacturer, Warner Bros. has taken an emergency digital eraser to nearly 100 shots in “Eraser,” the costly Arnold Schwarzenegger action film due out next week.

A studio spokesman downplayed the cost of the last-minute fixes, but one source said the changes could add as much as $1 million to the cost of the film, whose budget has already ballooned to $130 million, according to Hollywood sources. “Eraser,” which also stars Vanessa Williams and James Caan, has been plagued by production delays, script changes and re-shoots.

The film depicts a villainous, fictional computer corporation whose name, Cyrex, gained the notice of Cyrix, a computer chip maker in Richardson, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Responding to a letter from the real-life firm, a Warner Bros. spokesman said, the studio had employees at special-effects companies working around the clock for nearly a week to change references, both visual and spoken, from “Cyrex” to “Cyrez.”

Several of the film’s actors were called in to change dialogue, said Rob Friedman, president of Warner Bros.’ worldwide advertising and publicity. He wouldn’t say whether Schwarzenegger was among them. He said the film will open as scheduled on June 21.

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“This is not going to delay a thing,” Friedman said. “We’re changing the name. Thank god for computers and digital processes. We made some dialogue changes and some visual changes, but we didn’t have to re-shoot. It took about a week or so.”

Ironically, the original script had no mention of a Cyrex Corp. But portions of the screenplay were rewritten as the movie was being shot. The action that now occurs at Cyrez originally was written as taking place at CIA headquarters. But during shooting, the producers changed the setting to avoid similarities to CIA scenes in the then-unreleased “Mission: Impossible.”

Friedman said Warner Bros. was contacted by Cyrix representatives last week after company employees saw a trailer for the film and heard the name mentioned.

He said the normal clearance process for proper names used in movies is based primarily on spelling, not pronunciation, which was the sticking point in this case.

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“When you clear things legally you read them, you don’t hear them--you strictly go by spelling,” Friedman said. “When the company called it to our attention, we felt it was reasonable” to change the name.

When asked if a reported bid of $1 million by a special-effects company for the last-minute job was accurate, Friedman replied, “We don’t give out figures, but that’s definitely too high.”

An anonymous memo being circulated on the Internet over the last week said 1,793 frames (or 84 shots) had to be changed digitally. Apparently, the Cyrex name and logo were visible on a number of hats, shirts and computer screens, according to the memo.

Cyrix, which has a market value of $569 million, designs microprocessors for IBM-compatible computers. Until this year its primary customers were computer manufacturers, but earlier this year it entered the consumer market with a line of high-end PCs.

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The company has been involved in several trademark disputes with larger companies. In 1993, Intel sued Cyrix over ads spoofing Intel’s logo. The lawsuit was settled in 1994. Last month, Gateway brought a similar suit following ads by Cyrix spoofing a Gateway trademark.


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