Company reels as partners, movie industry jump ship
Weinstein Company’s challenges continued to pile up following the ouster of cochairman Harvey Weinstein, with the firm reassessing plans for movie releases as business partners tightened payment terms.
The independent studio is considering delaying the release of The Current War, the only remaining prestige movie on its 2017 schedule, a source said, amid chaos surrounding sexual-assault allegations against Weinstein.
If The Current War, a historical drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as rival inventor George Westinghouse, is moved to next year, it would not qualify for awards including the Oscars. However, Weinstein Co could book the movie in a handful of theatres in December to qualify it for awards but wait until next year to release it nationwide.
Releasing the movie on November 24 as planned could be challenging because much of the publicity Weinstein Co would need to drive audience interest could be subsumed by questions about Weinstein.
Pushing back the movie’s release might allow time for the controversy to die down and for the company to restart operations with a new name. The studio has enlisted two advertising agencies to help it find a new name.
Weinstein has always played a hands-on role in marketing plans for the company’s high-profile movies and in particular the campaigns to help them gain consideration for Oscars, Golden Globes and other honours.
Weinstein may be gone, but questions remain about how the independent studio will continue to release movies or fill out an already thin slate during its leadership crisis. The mogul’s brother and co-chairman, Bob Weinstein, is running the studio on an interim basis with its president, David Glasser. Weinstein Co’s board of directors had planned to decide yesterday whether to name the two men to run the studio on a permanent basis, but have delayed that decision indefinitely.
The only other movie scheduled for theatrical release by Weinstein Co this year is Polaroid, a low-budget horror picture. It would be released under the company’s genre label, Dimension Films, overseen by Bob Weinstein. A person close to Polaroid said the studio had not decided whether it would be released on November 22.
One of Hollywood’s largest post-production vendors, Technicolor, has stopped extending credit to Weinstein Co, people close to the firms said. It will do work on the studio’s films and television shows, including sound, colour and visual effects, only if payment is received immediately upon delivery.
That move comes after Techni- color’s chief executive, Frederic Rose, sent an email to executives discussing whether the company should cease work on Weinstein projects until the issues were resolved, said a person with knowledge of the message.
Weinstein has been rebuffed over the past two days by prominent entertainment industry institutions.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts suspended his membership, saying “it considers the reported alleged behaviour completely unacceptable”.
Weinstein releases, including Shakespeare in Love and Gangs of New York, have been honoured at the Bafta awards ceremonies.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which produces the Academy Awards, said it will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow night (AEDT) to discuss Weinstein’s membership. The academy has ousted members in the past, but it is rare.
Calling the allegations against Weinstein “repugnant, abhorrent and antithetical”, the academy said its board of governors was meeting to discuss whether there were “any actions warranted”.
Walt Disney said it had “terminated” Weinstein as a producer from a movie in development, Artemis Fowl. A film adaptation of the young-adult book had been in development at Disney subsidiary Miramax, which the Weinstein brothers ran until 2005.
Weinstein Co’s film division has already had a dismal year at the box office. Its current release, the crime thriller Wind River, has grossed a modest $US33.3m in the US and Canada — the most any of its movies has made this year.
Other releases have flopped, such as the animated Leap and Matthew McConaughey’s Gold. The studio has made $US77m from six releases this year, film website Box Office Mojo said.