While The Weinstein Company are having a good day today, with Todd Haynes‘ “Carol” leading the Indie Spirit Awards nominations, another brick in the road for what will surely be plenty of Oscar plaudits, it’s a small silver lining in what has been a difficult few months. If you follow the business end of Hollywood, you likely will have heard of the countless woes facing the studio (detailed efficiently by Kim Masters at KCRW) which have included heavy layoffs, and a failed sale of their television division to British company, ITV. And so, in a move that’s not that surprising, Harvey Weinstein is scaling back.
Variety reports that The Weinstein Company will be acquiring and releasing fewer movies. Their currently rate of output is about 18 films per year, a figure which they will drastically cut nearly in half to 8-10. As a result, they will be making fewer acquisitions at film festivals, where they have long been mainstays, and instead develop pictures from the script stage, so they can have a hand in every step of the creative process (which will likely lead to far less battles between Harvey Weinstein and filmmakers who deliver finished movies, only to have the mogul request changes and edits). And, given that 30% of their revenue comes from television, they will be putting a stronger focus on those titles.
So, does this mean the end of an era? Not particularly. The independent landscape, thanks to streaming, has more than a few players who can fill the void that The Weinstein Company will leave, but make no mistake, the studio will remain major awards season players. It’s arguable that with even less movies to eating up their time and resources, their campaigns will only get more focused for the films they believe in.
That said, they are coming off a year that has seen some big flops (“Burnt,” “No Escape“) and they have a very expensive rollout of Quentin Tarantino‘s “The Hateful Eight” coming up. With a reported budget of $62 million it’s going to have to be a big hit to recoup, and with all that in mind, it will be interesting to see how the company navigates the upcoming year. But if anything, the Weinsteins have survived the ups and downs of the business for years, and I’d expect no less this time around.