Com­pany reels as part­ners, movie in­dus­try jump ship

The Australian - - WORLD - LOS AN­GE­LES:

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.

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