Today we have a couple of pieces of news pertaining to The Weinstein Company, headed by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein. The first tibit is that the company has acquired the Toronto International Film Festival hit, A Single Man. The second is speculation over the company’s finances, and what part Inglourious Basterds writer/director, Quentin Tarantino, is playing in that calculation.
A SINGLE MAN
The Weinstein Company has acquired the U.S. and German rights to A Single Man, the Tom Ford directed drama – based on a the novel by Christopher Isherwood – about a gay British college professor (played by Colin Firth) in 1960’s LA who is attempting to cope with the death of his partner. The Weinsteins are planning a limited release before the end of the year to make sure it qualifies for the Oscars, with a wider release planned after that in early 2010.
A Single Man was picked up just hours after it played at the Toronto International Film Festival recently, for an undisclosed seven-figure sum (the first “buy” of the festival). The deal was made during an all-night negotiating session between distributors and the director’s CAA reps. It was the first “showdown” over a film at the festival, and is hoped to prompt more acquisitions of other similarly strong films with notable casts, such as the Michael Douglas starrer Solitary Man and the Tilda Swinton starrer, I Am Love.
I’m not usually a fan of Colin Firth (admittedly, I haven’t seen as much of his stuff as I maybe should have), but the story for A Single Man certainly is an interesting one. I will keep an eye out for it when it hits theaters in my part of the globe (the UK).
THE WEINSTEIN’S FINANCES AND QUENTIN TARANTINO
It’s no secret that the Weinstein’s have been in financial trouble for some time, with the bombing of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse hitting them hard. Ever since their forming of The Weinstein Company in 2005 (after running Miramax Films), they have been falling short of box-office and critical successes.
According to Reuters, The Weinstein Company had about 25% of its movies earn a million dollars or less, and needless to say the company was “cash-strapped.” The Weinsteins subsequently sought financial advice and even applied for a bridge loan.
However, even if they took a “financial bath” on Grindhouse, they still continued to have faith in Tarantino and went ahead with his Inglourious Basterds. Beforehand I bet they were shaking in their boots, but now I’m betting they’re glad they took the risk. Tarantino’s Basterds has already grossed almost $200 million at the box office, from a budget of $70 million (it will likely continue to make money until it finishes its theatrical run in November). Tarantino himself had this to say about it the situation:
“They [the Weinsteins] were backed up against the wall, and this gives them breathing room. This gets their back off the wall… It will give them some cash by the time the whole thing is over with, but it also even helps them inside of the industry and it actually shows Hollywood that they can open a movie. I’m actually proud that I was able to do that for them, that I could pay back their faith in me, that I could pay back their support.”
Needless to say this is a win-win-win situation for Tarantino, the Weinsteins and us, the audience. Picture it: the Weinsteins make their money back (and then some), they continue to work with Tarantino on future projects (they’ve supported him since he started back in 1992), and we get to see more of those (potentially excellent) collaborations.
Even IF Inglourious Basterds has saved The Weinstein Company from financial hell, the studio still isn’t safely in the black ink. Rob Zombie’s Halloween II hasn’t done all that well at the box office – the Weinsteins are just lucky it only cost $15 million to make. I really don’t think they could survive another Grindhouse-like bombing. Will see how well the semi-acclaimed adaptation of The Road fares at the box office when it hits theaters this November.
What do you think of these two pieces of Weinstein news: Are you looking forward to A Single Man? And do you think Tarantino saved the company with his Inglourious Basterds?
Sources: Reuters, ScreenCrave and Variety