Miramax Gets Cannes Market Title as Weinstein Chats With Fest-goers
by Eugene Hernandez
Miramax has acquired North American rights to the Cannes Marche du Film movie, "Twin Sisters." Company chief Harvey Weinstein announced the deal during a Q&A session at the Variety Village on Monday. During the one-hour discussion, the outspoken Miramax head talked about the Cannes Film Festival and the state of his leading specialty film company.
"Twin Sisters" (De Tweeling), directed by Ben Sombogaart, tells the story of twin sisters who are driven apart after World War II and spend a lifetime trying to reconcile. The Dutch movie was sold by High Point Films in London. Written by Marieke van der Pol, it is based on the novel by Tessa de Loo. The film stars Thekla Reuten, Nadja Uhl, Ellen Vogel, Gudrun Okras, Jeroen Spitzenberger, and Roman Knizka and was produced by Anton Smit and Hanneke Niens.
During the freewheeling discussion, Weinstein expressed his views on the Cannes Film Festival, grousing that in this year's competition 19 of 22 films have French financing or are co-produced by French companies. No Miramax films are included in this year's fest, so Weinstein said he is spending his time in Cannes at screenings and parties.
Reflecting on his recent slate of films, Weinstein touted the recent "City of God," a film that Miramax brought to Cannes last year. Admitting that his company "goofed" in the theatrical release, he said that they were unable to find the right way to make more money with the film (it has earned $4 million so far). Weinstein said that he plans to reposition the movie later this year and he has his eye on securing an Oscar nomination for the picture. He added that the film will be eligible in all categories.
The Oscars was another topic of discussion at the chat, which was moderated by Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart. Weinstein remarked that the shift in dates for the 2004 ceremony (it is moving a month earlier) will put smaller films at a disadvantage against larger studio films.
Miramax's own bigger-budget films that compete directly with the Hollywood studios were a major topic at the session. Weinstein said that he is seeking partners to co-finance larger "tent pole" movies. One film talked about was an adaptation of "The Green Hornet." Already in the works is the big-budget film "Cold Mountain," directed by Anthony Minghella, which Miramax is financing on its own.
Talk of Miramax entering the world of bigger-budget, wider-release pictures certainly raises questions about its commitment to indie and specialty work. When asked by indieWIRE about the company's commitment to the lower-budget films that he built the company on in the '90s, Weinstein said, "That's the core of what we do."
"I want to do one 'Harry Potter' and fund the rest of my slate," Weinstein said. "I still love my small movies, I am not giving them up."