Also Talks About His Pre-Facebook Social Networking Site
Even though he’s easily one of the most divisive figures in Hollywood — he’s currently facing lawsuits from Michael Moore and producers from an aborted animated film “Escape From Planet Earth” — it’s hard to deny that Harvey Weinstein is also one of the most influential and successful moguls around town. But everyone makes mistakes and in a piece he recently penned for Newsweek, Weinstein reveals a couple of his biggest doozies.
Firstly, Weinstein was early in the game on a social networking site A Small World but was quickly trumped by a tiny upstart called Facebook. “I bought controlling interest in an Internet company called A Small World. The company functioned just like Facebook, except it was exclusive—you could only sign up if your friends were already in. It originated just weeks before Facebook got big. I thought this idea was way ahead of its time and we could sell advertising and eventually memberships. The first thing we did was concentrate on selling ads. Meanwhile, all the other sites concentrated on services to make theirs better. I ignored the technology and went after the bottom line,” Weinstein wrote adding, “When I make a movie, I never think bottom line. I just think of how good the movie can be and sometimes I go over budget because I have a vision. But here, I clearly was in way over my head…..The other social sites kicked my butt. I sold the company for a loss to a techie who immediately improved services and has turned the company around.”
But his biggest blunder (and his “favorite” one) was passing on buying the rights what is shaping up to be one of the biggest adult dramas of the year. “But my favorite mistake happened two years ago, when I had the opportunity to buy ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.’ Two friends in London told me there was a book they loved. I read the book and thought it was great. Then I heard they were making a movie out of it. I got the people to show us the movie to see whether we’d want to distribute it in the United States, and everything about it in my gut said, “Do this—there’s a franchise here.” But my team said, ‘No, we should focus on bigger movies,’ and I let the committee overwhelm me. I didn’t listen to my very significant gut, and when I say significant, I mean size, geographically. And that was a big bloody mistake—an economic mistake, a company mistake. If you’re going to be in the business we are, it has to be because you want to champion movies that are different,” the producer wrote.
But in his defense, in a recent must-read Vanity Fair profile Weinstein admitted that there were a few years early after The Weinstein Company was founded, where his eye wasn’t on the ball. We assume that ‘Dragon Tattoo’ is probably one of a handful of opportunities that floated by that Weinstein didn’t jump on.
At any rate, the franchise is in good hands with Scott Rudin and Sony who have David Fincher directing. It hits theaters on December 21, 2011.