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Dueling Fighter Pictures: Weinstein’s ‘Hands of Stone’ vs. Open Road’s ‘Bleed for This’

Dueling Fighter Pictures: Weinstein's 'Hands of Stone' vs. Open Road's 'Bleed for This'

Tuesday brought two announcements from veteran Oscar champ The Weinstein Co. and 2016 Oscar-winner Open Road, putting them in direct competition this fall. In one corner, Harvey Weinstein won’t be sitting out this year’s Cannes after all—although he has canceled his annual show and tell for media and buyers. (“We’ve shown all the trailers!” insisted one TWC spokeswoman.) He’s managed to rope Cannes director Thierry Fremaux into mounting a festival tribute to “Raging Bull” star Robert De Niro, and showing his latest movie, “Hands of Stone” (August 26), a portrait of Panamanian fighter Roberto Doran, played by Venezuelan star Edgar Ramirez.

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Coming out fighting from the other corner is Open Road, the distributor of this year’s Oscar-winner “Spotlight.” They’ve picked an awards-friendly November 4 slot for “Bleed for This,” Ben Younger’s boxing biopic from executive producer Martin Scorsese. In another true story, Miles Teller plays Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza, a Providence boxer who won two world title fights and severed his spine in a near-fatal car accident. Aaron Eckhart plays trainer Kevin Rooney, who helped Pazienza to walk and fight again.

Which one will be the Oscar contender? Never count out wily Oscar maestro Harvey Weinstein. Last summer he booked fighting picture “Southpaw” starring Jake Gyllenhaal on July 24 to decent business ($52 million domestic), without becoming a factor in the awards race. (The reviews weren’t strong enough.) By booking “Hands of Stone” in summer, they’re clearly chasing after ticket buyers —as TWC did with August 2013 release (and non-Oscar-contender) “The Butler” ($116 million domestic)—over massive awards expenditures.

Open Road chief Tom Ortenberg spent heavily on “Spotlight” and reaped the rewards of a winner ($45 million domestic, $45 million foreign), plus ancillaries. And they’re willing to go down that road again.

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