The Weinstein Company-backed Best Picture nominees Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained walked away with three Oscars between the two of them at the 2013 Oscars ceremony, after grossing over $500 million in theaters worldwide combined. It goes to show: few people currently working in Hollywood are better at picking AND selling Academy Award-baiting fare than Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
Occasionally, the Weinsteins distribute films with dismal critical prospects, when it stills stands to earn them an easy buck (see: Scary Movie 5, later this year). The majority of their acquisitions are basically awards-contenders by association, as is the case with its latest purchases: the biopics Grace of Monaco and Long Walk to Freedom.
Deadline is reporting that the Weinsteins are wasting no time putting together the film slate for the next Oscar race, as the studio's heads are striking a multi-million dollar deal to distribute Grace of Monaco. The biopic is based on a script written by Arash Amel (Erased), which the site describes as follows:
The drama chronicles how Princess Grace made the transition from star of films like Dial M For Murder and Rear Window to her role as princess by playing a major role in helping her husband settle a dispute between her country and France’s Charles De Gaulle over tax laws in the 1960s.
Nicole Kidman headlines the film as Grace Kelly (no-brainer casting, if ever there was), with Oscar-nominee Tim Roth (Lie to Me) playing Monaco's Prince Rainier III and working under the direction of Olivier Dahan (La vie en rose). The supporting cast includes Oscar-nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), as well as award-show favorites like Parker Posey (Broken English) and Derek Jacobi (The King's Speech).
Here's the only question: Will Grace of Monaco follow the example of the Weinstein Company's The Iron Lady and bring its lead actress yet another Academy Award - or might this become that rare failed bid at courting voters for Harvey and Bob? Check back in a year and we will have the answer; in the meantime, enjoy the first images of Kidman as Grace Kelly (via Bleeding Cool and Politken):
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As for Long Walk to Freedom: Golden-Globe winner Idris Elba is starring as Nelson Mandela, while Naomie Harris (the new Moneypenny in Skyfall) plays the renowned South African activist and former president's wife Winnie. It spans the expanse of Mendela's life and experiences (including his 27 years in prison), which helps set it apart from Clint Eastwood's Mandela memoir Invictus from a few years ago.
Similarly, Elba should continue moving closer to becoming a household name over the upcoming months, between a role in director Guillermo del Toro's giant robots versus monsters Summer blockbuster Pacific Rim and reprising as Heimdall in Marvel's Thor: The Dark World in the fall. It won't help or hinder Oscar prospects for Long Walk to Freedom, but does assure more interest outside the usual biopic crowd and immediate Academy circle.
Here's more on Long Walk to Freedom (via the Weinstein Company press release):
The Weinstein Company (TWC) and Anant Singh announced today the acquisition, by TWC, of the North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the film of Nelson Mandela’s life based on his autobiography MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (THE FIRST GRADER, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) and produced by Anant Singh.
Singh began communicating with Mandela about making a film based on his life while he was still in prison and acquired the film rights to Mandela’s book at the time of its publication in 1996 and development on the film began immediately when Academy Award® Nominee, writer William Nicholson (LES MISERABLES, GLADIATOR, SHADOWLANDS) signed on. The completion of MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM sees the culmination of Singh’s most ambitious project to date.
UPDATE: The Weinstein Company has set Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom to open in theaters on November 29th, 2013.
Grace of Monaco arrives in theaters on December 27th, 2013.
Source: Deadline, The Weinstein Company