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THE BIG PICTURE

Harvey: The biz is 'too crazy'

October 25, 2008|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

It's gotten to the point where if you have a movie with the Weinstein Co., you need to have your agent phoning Exhibitor Relations every morning to see if your film's still coming out.

Even worse, you can't be sure who'll be handling the company's acquisition, marketing or production either. As the Hollywood Reporter revealed Wednesday, a host of top Weinstein execs are jumping ship. The company's co-heads of acquisitions and production left recently. They will now be joined by the company's production president, a senior vice president of production and a top marketing executive, who are either heading out the door or leaving shortly.

Now there's a movie exodus as well, at least from the company's end-of-year slate of pictures. As I reported earlier this week, the Viggo Mortensen-starring adaptation of "The Road" has been bumped into next year. Our sources say a number of other movies are suffering the same fate, led by "Crossing Over," a Harrison Ford-starring drama that was expecting to contend for award-season plaudits. It's been pushed out of 2008, much to the dismay of its star. The company has also once again bumped "Killshot," a Mickey Rourke-starring film that has had as many release dates as there are colleges attended by Gov. Sarah Palin.

The company has also backed off from December release dates for "Fanboys" and "Shanghai," a John Cusack-starring drama that had been slated for a Christmas release in New York and L.A.

So what is going on? The moves only reinforce the rampant speculation inside the industry that the Weinstein Co. is running low, low, low on money. Weinstein execs have been informing talent reps that its end-of-the-year schedule was too crowded to release all the films, but now that any possible logjam has been cleared, you have to wonder what the latest explanation will be.

Luckily, I managed to get Harvey Weinstein on the phone, and he had an answer for everything. He contends that all the late-breaking moves are simply ways for the company to take advantage of various marketing, promotion and scheduling opportunities. Here's his take:

"Fanboys": Weinstein says the movie has been moved to January "so we can do a major promotion with Comcast, who's arranging for a big advertising tie-in for us on the film."

"Crossing Over": "We're moving it to January," Weinstein says. "The market is just too crowded. Every week there are five more movies coming out. It's too crazy. Spring is much better -- there are a lot more wide-open dates. The most important thing is to do well by the movie. Having it out in January gives us the opportunity to play the film at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals, which will be a big help to the movie."

"Killshot": "Everyone has said that Mickey Rourke is amazing in 'The Wrestler' and will be up for all sorts of awards, so we decided to move 'Killshot' to a date a few weeks before the Oscars," Weinstein says. "That way we can capitalize on all the heat that's going to be around Mickey."

"Shanghai": "It just couldn't be ready in time. The movie wasn't finished shooting until August, and the director, Mikael Hafstrom, doesn't even deliver his cut until early November. He doesn't want it out now, and neither do we. He needs time to make it as great as possible."

That means that after "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" hits theaters next weekend, the Weinstein brothers aren't distributing another film themselves until "The Reader" at year's end. Harvey Weinstein insists it will be worth the wait. He believes that all the buzz about his money woes will blow over after people see how some of these pictures perform in the marketplace.

I hope he's right. There's no one I'd rather talk movie talk with than Harvey. But there's no getting around the fact that his credibility in Hollywood today is at an all-time low. As one agent said to me recently, "Whenever I'm tempted to take a project to Harvey, I lie down and take a nap and hope that when I wake up I'm sober again."

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patrick.goldstein@latimes.com

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