Weinsteins Pursuing Diverse Slate in Effort to Build TWC Into 'Giant Media Company'
by Eugene Hernandez
The Weinstein Company (as it is currently named), headed by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, has a slate of some 13 projects on tap for its first year, Harvey Weinstein explained Tuesday during a conference call with journalists. He emphasized that he and his brother will maintain relationships that they have with a number of filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino ("Kill Bill," "Pulp Fiction"), Robert Rodriguez ("Sin City," "Spy Kids"), Kevin Smith ("Clerks," "Dogma"), and Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley"). A slate of new projects and some acquisitions made while the brothers were still at Miramax are also heading to what the Weinsteins promise will be a "fully integrated media company" encompassing broadcasting, theatrical distribution, and the Internet."
Harvey Weinstein emphasized, "This will finally give us the entrepreneurial opportunities that we have long sought after."
According to accounts from both sides, the Weinsteins deal at Miramax soured over the years as the brothers became frustrated by their inability to make larger budget movies and expand the company into new areas. Harvey Weinstein cited "divergent beliefs" over the direction of Miramax, naming specific instances in which he and his brother were not allowed to pursue specific initiatives. Notable hurdles included a Bravo/Independent Film Channel deal they hoped to close, a pact to produce the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and the purchase of Artisan Entertainment.
"What Bob and I were trying to do is take the Miramax asset and turn it into a 5 billion dollar asset, as opposed the 2 billion dollar asset it is today," Harvey Weinstein said.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein remain Miramax employees through September 30th of this year and it is expected that their new company will kick-off on October 1st at which point they would be able to begin releasing films from a slate that currently numbers over a dozen, some that they own outright and others that are joint efforts with Disney.
New projects wholly owned by TWC will include a four-hour version of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill," Greg McLean's "Wolf Creek" which the brothers acquired while at Miramax just before this year's Sundance Film Festival, a new horror movie directed by John Gulager, entitled "Feast," the new Kevin Smith project, "The Passion of the Clerks," Anthony Minghella's new film, "Breaking and Entering," as well as new projects from both Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez. Also on tap is a Kiyoshi Kurosawa project entitled "Pulse," which the Weinsteins see as a likely franchise opportunity.
Among the movies that are joint Disney/Weinstein Company projects are "Derailed" from Mikael Hafstrom ("Ondskan"), a new "Scary Movie" sequel, the thriller "Come Closer," Stephen Frears' "Mrs. Henderson Presents," and Richard Shepard's "The Matador" which was acquired at Sundance this year.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein have enlisted a roster of financial people and others as a board of advisors as they raise an undisclosed sum of money to finance their new venture. Already on board as advisors to TWC are Steven Rattner of Quadrangle, James Dolan from Cablevision, producer Arnon Milchan, Gap CEO Mickey Drexler, investor Dirk Ziff, and even actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
"Any board with 'Butch Cassidy' and 'The Sundance Kid' is a good group of people," Weinstein quipped.
Harvey Weinstein said that he hopes he and his brother can create the type of company that they wanted Miramax to be and he added he anticipates forging a partnership with The Walt Disney Company as well. "The revolution that we (were) a part of in independent cinema will now take place in new technology."
"You learn great skills here, and now we can apply those," Weinstein said of his twelve years with Disney, naming such influential leaders as Chris McGurk, Bill Mechanic, Michael Eisner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
"We will be able to build a giant media company of our own," Weinstein reiterated.