One of the most buzzed about and then quickly forgotten movies of 2014 was “Grace Of Monaco.” On paper, it had all the trappings of a potentially strong film, with Nicole Kidman taking the lead role in a drama about Grace Kelly, with “La Vie En Rose” director Olivier Dahan at the helm. But things started to go sour as the film was hitting the finish line. In the fall of 2013, Dahan spoke openly to the French press about his battles with producer Harvey Weinstein who he claimed wanted a more “sanitized” and “Hollywood” friendly film. The Weinstein Company considered not even releasing the movie at all, but relented, and “Grace Of Monaco” headed to Cannes, where it opened the festival, only to be absolutely savaged by critics. So what happened? Will we see it? Well, Weinstein has some answers.
“…you’ll probably see it, either in a small theatrical release or on TV afterwards, but this is what happened. The script we signed on for was like ‘The King’s Speech,’ with the big moment where Princess Grace steps up. That is what attracted Nicole….I’d seen rushes that were great,” the producer told Deadline. “The director is French, and he turned it more into a Hitchcock movie like a paean to ‘Vertigo,’ which ironically Grace wasn’t in. The writer, Arash Amel, called me and said, what happened to my script. It’s like welcome to Hollywood. Writers don’t have any say, but we decided to pair him up with a team of people and see what he could do about restoring the movie to the way it looked when he wrote it. He did a wonderful job. You can ask Nicole. A beautiful job.”
“The director refused and criticized me profusely,” Weinstein continued. “In the old days, I would have fought for it. Here, I said, the better part of valor was just to tell Nicole, you should get this done and if you can’t then I’m not going to, because I’m tired of this. I don’t want these fights. That movie would have been helped greatly by the writer’s cut of the film and it’s something that people should see someday. It wasn’t a transformative movie but it was a damn entertaining one. But Olivier Dahan wanted to do what Olivier wanted to do. He called me names in the French newspapers. I figured the best thing to do was to step out. I had already said what I had to say and let Cannes be the judge…That moniker of Harvey Scissorhands has always followed me and simply put, it was made up by a competitor who probably has re-cut more movies than I have. I’ve never cut a movie behind anybody’s back. We told Olivier what we were doing, and asked him to come for the test. The producer of the film thought Olivier shouldn’t come for the test. Everything is transparent and upfront and yet these monikers persist.”
However, there are a few filmmakers who might argue that Harvey’s nickname exists for a reason. Certainly, even if he’s never been in an edit bay cutting a film himself, he has strongly influenced the creative direction and decision making of films released under his banner. Indeed, Weinstein also clashed with Bong Joon-ho over “Snowpiercer,” wanting significant cuts for the film’s stateside release. The director insisted upon his final cut being released, and ultimately it was, although the planned wide theatrical bow for “Snowpiercer,” was changed to a VOD/limited release rollout. The latter strategy was widely successful, and some even claimed upon seeing the numbers, that Weinstein missed the boat in giving the picture a bigger release, but he stands by his decision.
“I didn’t see the movie as commercial in a 2500 screen launch, which they wanted to do,” Weinstein says. “I saw it as an art house film, the way he directed it. I said we should cut 20 minutes and a few other things. Major directors who I will not name said the same thing to me. Some of the biggest directors in the world said Harvey’s helping you. We came up with this idea about VOD and ‘Snowpiercer’ worked great. Then I got criticized. They said, had I had the guts to go wide with such a great movie it would have done well. I owned Australia on the movie and I told them, go wide. We bombed. I wanted to see it for myself and then every other country, with the exception of France where the comic book is based and South Korea where Bong Joon-Ho is a huge hero, and the movie didn’t work anywhere except for America where we did this VOD platform and it was a spectacular hit. Nobody writes that article, one that says, that son of a bitch was right.”
Well, we suppose Harv has come out and just said it himself. Thoughts? Did “Snowpiercer” need a trim? Let us know in the comments section.