I’m sure the Weinstein Brothers have told their employees which ones are being let go, because finding out via a movie blog that you need to register for unemployment is really uncool.
It would seem that even Hollywood can fall succumb to the ills of a recession-filled economy. Even as Hollywood boasts of record profits (due mostly to a handful of films and the extra boost from 3D sales), major studios like Universal and The Weinstein Company are either cutting back expenses or letting people go.
Such is the sad case today as TWC announced the trimming of their roster from around 125 to about 90 for the next round of cuts coming next month.
On top of that, TWC will also limit the number of films released to 10 per year. That breaks down to four for each brother, Harvey and Bob, and two extras to pick up during the year at festivals. As was the case this year at the Toronto International Film Festival, when TWC acquired the US and German distribution rights to A Single Man.
Anyone that has ever watch Office Space and worked in a “big” company has at one time faced “the Bobs”. “The Bob” in this case is Miller Buckfire (how ironic) – he is a “restructuring specialist” (read: the guy that fires people for a living) hired by TWC over three months ago and I’m sure he had a heavy hand in this decision process. A TWC rep had this to say about Buckfire (seriously, is this guy a pilot on Battlestar Galatica?):
“We hired a firm to help us restructure and put a plan into place to get us to a size that will fortify our company moving forward. In this economic climate, it makes sense to focus on a smaller slate, and with that, we need fewer people. By the end of the year, the look of the company will be complete, and we can continue releasing successful films.”
Even with Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds bringing in a coffer bolstering $227 million worldwide on a $70 million budget, they still have to split those profits equally with Universal, so that amount is not quite as large as the number first look. They did receive a respectable profit on the partially respectable Halloween 2 which has brought in $31 million so far on a $15 million budget. Unfortunately, all those millions are just not enough right now.
Beside previous layoffs, TWC has been forced to dish off some of their assets including the selling of Genius Products and having Vivendi taking over the distribution operations for World Wrestling Entertainment and the beloved Sesame Street on DVD. The financial crunch can also account for the pushing back of the Michael Cera comedy, Youth in Revolt, from October 30, 2009 to January 15th, 2010.
TWC isn’t done for the year though; they still have The Road, the Cormac McCarthy novel adaptation on a father and son’s journey across a post-apocalyptic America. So far, reviews for The Road have been favorable and it should do well in theater. There’s always the chance that it could also get a boost if Viggo Mortensen receives an Oscar after the beginning of the year.
Heaven knows; the Weinstein brothers, their employees and their families could use some good news on the financial home front right about now.