What’s on the Table if The Weinstein Company Sells or Closes Up Shop?

It’s been more than two weeks since the New York Times exposé on Harvey Weinstein that started the dominoes falling on one of the biggest Hollywood takedowns in many decades. This continues to be a developing story, but one of the biggest questions that’s on many minds is, “What is going to happen to the Weinstein Company?” For weeks, there’s been talk about bankruptcy, rebranding, sales and such, but nothing concrete.

Bob Weinstein has gone on record that they’re not closing down or selling the company with many of their planned releases going ahead, while President David Glasser has said that they’re going to stick around to make sure their employees are able to find new jobs.

Let’s face it. The Weinstein Company was already in very bad shape even before the brouhaha with Harvey and his ousting took place.  A company that was once dominant at festivals in terms of acquisitions and a prominent Oscars player had been sitting out recent fests when it comes to buying anything, while focusing more on its TV unit. TWC had made a lot of really bad mistakes and misjudgments in previous years, overestimating how well Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful EIght and other movies might fare, for instance.

If we go back to January of this year, TWC had just opened Garth Davis’ Lion over Thanksgiving weekend. The movie had done well during the fall festival phase, and it had grossed $6.8 million in moderately wide release before almost guaranteed Oscar nominations. Harvey was doing his thing with that one in an attempt to earn back its moderate $12 million budget. The movie would gross $52 million domestically, and it would be TWC’s only movie released in 2016 to gross more than $5 million. (Read that last part again.)

On the other hand, Matthew McConaughey’s Gold and Michael Keaton’s The Founder weren’t doing nearly as well with critics and early awards groups, and despite sending out screeners and giving both movies an Oscar-qualifying run, they both were pushed back to get wide releases in Jan., maybe in hopes of rustling up more marketing money before then. Both movies bombed very badly

Even though they had the first rights to Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River, the movie played Sundance with the Weinstein Company not fully committed to release it. It played fairly decently, even if it wasn’t one of the biggest buzz movies at the fest.

Wind River would be released in early August and would become TWC’s biggest hit of the year, making $33 million based on an $11 million budget. It was quite a coup for first-time director Taylor Sheridan after having received an Oscar nomination for writing Hell or High Water earlier this year.

TWC’s summer ended with the long-delayed Tulip Fever, which Harvey optioned in 2005 then developed for years before making it in 2014 for $25 mill. with a yet-to-break-out Alicia Vikander and his two time Oscar nominee Christoph Waltz. International distribution rights had been sold off, yet it wasn’t even released in Europe until this past summer.

That’s where the company was at going into Venice and Toronto, and they’d already pushed Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene (planned for a Nov. release) back to next March. They had Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Thomas Edison movie The Current War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, scheduled for a Thanksgiving release after its own festival run. Reviews were tepid, and after the business with Harvey, it seemed better to push the movie back to next year as well.

Toronto also premiered TWC’s newly-retitled The Upside, theirEnglish remake of the worldwide hit The Intouchables, starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman. The movie’s okay and probably has a little more mainstream North American appeal than the original due to starring known actors and being in English.

There are still a lot of questions including whether the Weinstein Company will change their name, and whether they’ll still have Oscar campaigns for their various movies, particularly Wind River, which might have the best chances at attention. Is it worth making screeners to send to awards voters or is it better to sit this Oscar season out, especially without Harvey? (Note: As this went to “press,” it was reported that Wind River has severed ties with TWC and will have an awards campaign backed by the Tunica-Biloxi tribes. The home video release was already being handled by Lionsgate with streaming via Netflix, so TWC is already cut out of the mix.)

But let’s get to the nitty gritty, and that’s the movies that TWC has in their coffers for future release or possible production.

Wrapped and Ready for Release

We need to begin with the movies that were still going to be released in 2017, and before the scandal, that was just two movies…

The Current War  — This Thomas Edison drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Tom Holland was thought to be TWC’s big Oscar movie this season. Wisely, it was pushed back to 2018 with the movie’s star lambasting the former studio head publicly, not to mention the weak reviews the movie got out of Toronto in September. This movie was never going to be a big money maker for the company regardless.

Polaroid  — The Lars Klevberg-directed high concept horror flick was more of a Bob Weinstein thing with his Dimension imprint, so that will still be released over Thanksgiving weekend. It probably won’t do that well with Thanksgiving never being a good weekend for a horror movie..

As would normally be the case, TWC was already lining up their wrapped or almost wrapped films for early 2018. There were three on the schedule before The Current War was pushed back.

Paddington 2 – Potentially TWC’s best chances at making money right now is the sequel to the 2015 family film starring the popular children’s book bear, the previous movie making $76 mill. domestic. That doesn’t seem like a lot compared to the $191 mill. made overseas (where TWC wasn’t distributing).  Still, it was a rare family movie loved by kids and critics alike, and the sequel scheduled for Jan. 12 next year has not been moved or held in light of recent events, and TWC was saying they’d release it as planned.  But then producer David Heyman went on record that he wanted to make sure “The Weinstein Company name is nowhere near Paddington 2.” He wanted to make it clear that the Weinsteins had nothing to do with financing or making the film — that would be Studio Canal — and TWC just signed on for North American distribution, as with the original movie. If Heyman is looking for new distribution that means the movie won’t be out in Jan. and will have to be delayed until a new distributor gets on board, plans the marketing etc.  If Paddington 2 does get delayed, they might not want to wait too long because Disney are making a new live action Winnie the Pooh movie, which would steal any glory this movie might have.

The Upside – As mentioned above, this was the English language remake of The Intouchables, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, and it’s pretty much complete, having premiered at Toronto in early Sept. Its March release date would give TWC time to market the movie for a nationwide release — or in a normal case, give Harvey time to reedit it, as he’s been prone to do — but who knows if they’ll have things together by the start of next year to really focus on this one? This one should also be sold off.

War with Grandpa – This Dimension comedy starring Robert De Niro has already been delayed at least once until Feb. 2018, and one presumes this would be a sellable and marketable comedy even if De Niro hasn’t made a good comedy since Silver Linings Playbook.

Mary Magdalene – Garth Davis’ follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Lion was delayed to 2018 months ago in favor of The Current War. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, this religious drama was thought to be a potential awards contender but the March release date coincides with the film’s release in Europe via Universal, so whomever buys TWC doesn’t have a ton of time to figure out what to do with it.

Man with the Iron Heart – Formerly called HHHH, the WWII action movie stars Jason Clarke as Nazi General Reinhard Heydrich, “The Butcher of Prague,” and Jack O’Connell and Jack Reynor (Sing Street) as the Czech resistance fighters sent to assassinate him. If this sounds familiar, that’s because here was a movie last year called Anthropoid by Sean Ellis about the exact same characters. In that case, Irish actors Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan (from Fifty Shades of Grey) were playing the Czech fighters rather than O’Connell and Reynor, but who thought it would be a good idea to have two of these movies? Anthropoid was released by Bleecker Street and only made $3 mill, so it’s odd to think another movie was necessary. Either way, international rights were sold and it’s already opened in many other countries — and barely made a mark even in the Czech Republic — so it might not have much potential for a U.S. release regardless.

Wrapped But Never Dated

The next two movies are all done except maybe some post-production, test screenings, etc.

Hampstead – Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson stars in Joel Hopkins’ movie about an American widow living in the British countryside who finds a man living in the woods nearby. I’m not sure if this is meant as a romantic comedy, a drama or what.

The Palace (formerly Hotel Mumbai) – Probably the Weinsteins’ most sellable project outside something by Tarantino, Smith or Moore is this drama recounting the 2008 terrorist attack on India’s Taj Mahal hotel that killed 160 people. It’s cast includes Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Teresa Palmer and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and it has some potential in the same way as Patriots Day or Deepwater Horizon. Oddly, the movie is being test-screened in California this week, maybe so a company can decide whether to buy it?

In Production

Fahrenheilt 11/9 – Michael Moore’s documentary about President Trump’s election looked like it could definitely stir things up, especially when it was planned for release a year after the election, but then Moore went to Broadway with his one-man show and that delayed production. He’s back working on it, and it’s outright owned by Harvey and Bob (according to a recent interview with Glazer), so they’ll have to figure out a way to get it out in a timely way. (Someone could still theoretically get it out on the 1-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration with a Sundance premiere.)

In Active Development

 

Quentin Tarantino’s Untitled Manson Family Project — The movie in this category that was probably closest to starting production was Tarantino’s ninth feature film and second to last film ever going by Tarantino’s earlier statements. Tarantino had a script and Margot Robbie was the only actor attached so far as Sharon Tate; he wanted to get Brad Pitt back for the movie as well. The Harvey bombshell really hit Tarantino hard, having worked with the Weinsteins since his first movie Reservoir Dogs. In fact, Tarantino’s movies were routinely a savior for Miramax and TWC, so one imagines Bob Weinstein is going to work hard to keep Tarantino happy. The question is whether he’ll have the financial backing to make this important movie or he’ll have to sell the project elsewhere.

Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? – This long-in-development biopic was so close to getting made with a script by Bill Condon and Lee Daniels directing Mike Epps as Pryor and Eddie Murphy as his father, LeRoy. Even Oprah Winfrey had joined the cast and Tracy Morgan was rumored to play Redd Foxx. Jay-Z was on board as a producer, and as recently as last week, there was word he wanted to buy Harvey’s stake in the company, possibly to get this film made.

In the Heights – Another creative who quickly tried to backtrack and pull out of their deal with TWC is Hamilton‘s Lin Manuel Miranda, whose previous musical was set to be turned into a movie musical at TWC. Miranda and playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes were very vocal about getting the rights back, but then nothing’s been reported on the subject since then. Chances are this might end up in court for years.

The Six Billion Dollar Man – How could I have forgotten this long-in-development project that seemed to have been moving forward with Mark Wahlberg attached. It has no director and the last word on the projected involved Damian Szifron writing the screenplay, but that was over a year ago. It’ll be interesting if someone picks up this license to make some movie based on the premise.

Knight Rider – There’s been talk of a movie based on the ’80s TV series for many years, as far back as the last NBC series in 2006. Somewhere along the line, TWC got involved with making a movie, and Brad Copeland and Glen A. Larson have both been involved with developing and writing a screenplay. At one point in 2014, rumors started circulating that Chris Pratt might be attached but those are just rumors, and there hasn’t been any word on the project moving forward. Nostalgia has been back in fashion lately with the success of It and other movies, but this one might be too late.

Pippin – Another musical that Harvey’s been trying to get made for many years is the Steven Schwartz Broadway classic that was originally directed by Bob Fosse. There have been so many stage productions and Miramax bought the rights after their success with Chicago in 2003. James Ponsoldt was set to write and direct an adaptation four years ago with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron producing. Ponsoldt was working on it as recently as two years ago, but he moved onto The Circle and then Disney’s Wild City is probably next.

Tanny Le Clercq Project – This biopic about the ballerina who was struck down by polio had Angela Workman (The Zookeeper’s Wife) developing a script but no director was ever attached and no casting for the main role, so it’s hard to tell where this was in the Weinsteins’ priorities.

Every Exquisite Thing – Ted Melfi had adapted Matthew (Silver Linings Playbook) Quick’s novel to direct after the success of St. Vincent but he then moved onto Hidden Figures, a movie that was successful enough that this could still happen, although maybe not at TWC.

Hellraiser – Dimension Films had the rights to continue Clive Barker’s horror franchise with Barker writing the remake but there’s been no word about this movie since 2013. Chances are that the rights will be sold off to another studio.

Likely Dead In Development

Any of the movies in the previous section could theoretically be in this category because some of them have been sitting on the Weinstein development shelves for years, and they might not be on the forefront of anyone’s mind. The ones below are more likely to never happen, at least not at TWC or whatever it becomes.

We’ll start with a couple planned remakes that haven’t had much movement since being announced…

Come Drink With Me – TWC had the rights to remake the 1966 Chinese martial arts classic by King Hu, with Quentin Tarantino, a renowned martial arts fanatic, writing and directing. Nothing more has said about this project in ten years, but it’s doubtful it will be directed by Tarantino.

Faster, Pussycat Kill Kill – Apparently, Quentin Tarantino also wanted to remake Russ Meyers’ exploitation action film and had written a script but until he finds a place for his Manson movie, this one may be put permanently on the backburner.

The Seven Samurai – It’s hard to believe anyone would want to remake Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 samurai classic, but it seems even sillier after last year’s The Magnificent Seven remake (a remake of a remake), which didn’t do particularly well even with mega-stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt among the cast. (It cost $90 million and it made $162 million worldwide, which is barely profitable.)

Kill Bill: Vol. 3 – Ever since the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill in two parts in 2003 and 2004, the filmmaker has talked about making a third chapter ten to fifteen years later so that Black Mamba’s daughter in the movie can be grown up enough to seek revenge on Uma Thurman’s Bride. Tarantino has been asked about this movie on his last two press tours, and he goes back and forth, but it’s going to be harder or even impossible to make it without Harvey.

The Man Who Made It Snow – At one point, Antoine Fuqua was going to direct with his Southpaw star Jake Gyllenhaal playing Max Mermelstein, a Jewish hotel engineer who helped found the Medellin Cartel. The screenplay by Michael Kingston and Brett Taber is still out there, but other than the success of Netflix’s Narcos, few movies about the drug biz have done that well, as seen by Tom Cruise’s recent American Made. If the screenwriters are able to get the script back and get other studios interested, it might still happen, but doubtful at TWC or whatever it becomes.

The Senator’s Wife – This one sounds interesting based on the current poliitcal environment: “One man fights against the National Rifle Association’s lobby to persuade politicians from voting for stricter gun control laws in the wake of a tragic massacre.” It’s hard to believe a movie like this could get made without Harvey’s support.

Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland – This Judy Garland biopic was adapted by Jon Hartmere from Gerald Clarke’s novel, and for a while, Anne Hathaway was attached to play the classic film star made famous from The Wizard of Oz.  That was back in 2009, and if you know anything about Hathaway, it’s doubtful she’d want to be involved with any project Harvey was developing, so unless she can convince someone else to buy the project, it’s dead as a doornail. As luck would have it, Pathe have just set up a competing Judy Garland movie, attaching Renée Zellweger and with Rupert Goold directing, so that’s likely to be made first.

No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley -This biopic about the late reggae great hasn’t had any forward movement or even a mention since 2011, so it’s doubtful this is on anyone’s radar any longer.

Rounders 2 – Considering Matt Damon’s early involvement in the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it’s hard to believe this long-in-development sequel to John Dahl’s 1998 poker drama would get made even though Dahl and writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien were all on board to make another movie. They might be losing their window of opportunity as poker probably has peaked, although eyes will certainly be on Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Molly’s Game to see if poker players/fans will go to the movies for another film in the vein of Rounders.

The Ends of the Earth – Argo writer Chris Terrio wrote a screenplay for this historical drama about oil tycoon E.W. Marland and at one point, David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence had been circling this as a follow-up to their Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, but they moved onto other things even before the Harvey brouhaha.

This article will be updated as we get more news about filmmakers and actors pulling out of their involvement with the Weinsteins, but at this time, they only really have maybe eight projects that would be sellable commodities, especially with nothing else starting production any time soon.

  | East Coast Editor
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2 Responses to What’s on the Table if The Weinstein Company Sells or Closes Up Shop?

  1. “The Senator’s Wife” is about a man? Figures. I doubt it could measure up to “Miss Sloane” though. The best film I’ve seen this year, despite the crappy marketing and B.O.

    • I’ll be curious to hear what you think of “Molly’s Game”… different movie to “Miss Sloane” but very well crafted by Aaron Sorkin.

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