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Shocker: Weinstein’s Cannes Opener ‘Grace of Monaco’ Goes to Lifetime

Shocker: Weinstein's Cannes Opener 'Grace of Monaco' Goes to Lifetime

Harvey Weinstein, who had closed a $5 million deal for U.S. rights to the $35 million “Grace of Monaco” starring Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman (TWC’s “The Hours”) in her seventh movie with him, as 60s era Grace Kelly, originally slated the film for November 2013 for an Oscar season run, promoting it at Cannes 2013, but then postponed it to spring 2014. Weinstein was furious when French filmmaker Olivier Dahan–who was looking to follow on the success of “La Vie En Rose,” which had won an Oscar for Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf–booked it as the opening night movie at Cannes 2014 just ahead of its global release. 

WATCH: Nicole Kidman Talks ‘Strangerland’ and ‘Grace of Monaco’ (VIDEO INTERVIEW)

It was the wrong way to introduce a middlebrow melodrama that should never have had awards in its sights. In “Grace of Monaco,” Nicole Kidman is strong as poised Oscar-winning movie star Grace Kelly, who in 1962 faced the reality of married life with Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), who was trying to keep his tiny principality wedged between the Mediterranean and its large neighbor France intact during a showdown with the French government and its maverick leader, Charles de Gaulle. We’re more interested in Kelly, who is figuring out, with advice from a sage priest (Frank Langella), how to play the role of loyal public princess and boost her husband by wooing the public to their cause. So while Kelly misses her Hollywood career, having to turn down a role for Alfred Hitchcock, she finds a new one. 

“Grace of Monaco” was roundly panned, and at the Weinstein Co. annual press bash, Weinstein did not promote the film, afterwards telling me and a gaggle of reporters that he and Dahan would work together on a new cut, and that he couldn’t have asked for more publicity on the movie. He made a point that the writer-producer Arash Amel and star Kidman deserved credit for their hard work. And he felt strongly that there was a way to cut the movie that would placate the Monaco’s royal family, the Grimaldis, who were not pleased: “The trailer appears to be a farce and confirms the totally fictional nature of this film,” they stated at the time. 

Away from the glare of Cannes “Grace of Monaco” might have been as marketable as, say, “The Woman in Gold,” which met mixed reviews, but after its drubbing it was dead in the water as a theatrical release. A new opening date was never set. Now the movie is skipping the usual VOD/DVD path and going straight to Lifetime cable, where it will air on May 25. This makes it eligible not for Oscars–Weinstein’s usual milieu–but for Emmys.

Harvey Weinstein is far less willing these days to throw big marketing dollars into the market when there are no guarantees they will yield a winner. 

READ MORE: The Weinsteins Think Big: Sell TV Division, Spend on Movies, Take ‘Finding Neverland’ to Broadway

The movie is executive produced by Claudia Bluemhuber, Uday Chopra, Uta Fredebeil and Bill Johnson, with Chopra as producer. 

Meanwhile Kidman starred in “Paddington” for the Weinstein Co. and is filming Garth Davis’ “Lion” opposite Rooney Mara and Dev Patel. See-Saw Films’ Indian survival drama about a kid who loses his family when he takes the wrong train is adapted by Luke Davies from Saroo Brierley’s true story “A Long Way Home.” The film has finished filming in India and will start in Australia later in the month.

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