April 23, 2024

Weinstein Co. Says It’s Back With Cannes Festival Event

As the 64th Cannes International Film Festival went into high gear, Mr. Weinstein served notice of his return to form — no more wandering focus, no more aspirations of diversifying into fashion — with an acquisition that has Oscar potential written all over it. Several buyers had tracked “The Artist,” a black-and-white silent film set in 1927 Hollywood, but it went to Mr. Weinstein for a seven-figure price.

“Hate us or love us, we take on what people say won’t work and make it work anyway,” said Mr. Weinstein by telephone from France on Thursday. He added, “ ‘The Artist’ is such a delicate flower, which I know sounds odd coming from me.”

The Weinstein Company, no longer imploding because of debt restructuring and an infusion of credibility and cash from “The King’s Speech,” is trying to use Cannes to send a message that it has not only turned a corner but is sprinting ahead.

On Friday, Mr. Weinstein will stage an event at the Hotel Martinez to announce a flurry of deals and talk up Oscar hopefuls like “My Week With Marilyn,” a drama starring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, and “The Bully Project,” a school brutality documentary.

The company also plans to highlight another Cannes acquisition, “Dragon (Wu Xia),” a Chinese martial arts film, and showcase “The Silver Linings Playbook,” about a man who regains his memory. Mark Wahlberg will play the male lead in that film, which will be directed by David O. Russell and produced by Donna Gigliotti, who won an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” (Ms. Gigliotti is also the Weinstein Company’s president of production.)

The event, hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker, who stars in a coming Weinstein Company comedy called “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” will also give the studio a platform to discuss a recent coup: After a bidding war last weekend, Mr. Weinstein won distribution rights to the next film from Paul Thomas Anderson, the celebrated director whose movies include “There Will Be Blood.”

Mr. Anderson’s still-untitled film is certain to stir controversy. Mr. Weinstein would not discuss details of the script, but it is widely known in Hollywood that the story involves Scientology, or at least a disguised version of it.

Any discussion about Mr. Weinstein, particularly one involving a creative surge, sends industry eyes rolling. Since forming the Weinstein Company with his brother, Bob, in 2005, Mr. Weinstein has struggled to regain the creative and financial thunder of his old company, Miramax.

By early 2010, the Weinstein Company, trying unsuccessfully to branch into other businesses and saddled with a string of box office bombs, had churned through more than $1 billion in financing.

But the Weinstein brothers have gotten their financial house in better order, partly by taking on partners for certain films like Ron Burkle and Len Blavatnik. Mr. Weinstein powered “The King’s Speech” to a best picture win at the Academy Awards in February; that film has now taken in more that $405 million worldwide.

The company, which has about 140 employees, is set up to make about eight movies a year and acquire an additional six to nine titles, according to David Glasser, chief operating officer. One current production is Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” a spaghetti Western aimed at a 2012 release.

Of those eight in-house productions, half will be the horror and franchise pictures that fall under Bob Weinstein’s leadership. Expectations are high for coming titles like “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World,” but these kinds of sequels are not foolproof. “Scream 4,” released in April, was shaky.

Part of the reason top-tier indie filmmakers are flocking back to the Weinsteins involves an ailing industry. The specialty film market collapsed over the last few years as distributors closed or scaled back. The result is that there are not many people left taking risks on these kinds of movies.

“We’re definitely leading from the heart,” Mr. Weinstein said. “And while we’re still taking risks, they are just a little bit smaller.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4ff28f3087bbf394d1b524892ac14e50

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