Midyear Awards Report: The Weinstein Co. (Analysis)
Box Office Report: Scientology-Inspired 'The Master' Shatters Art House Records on Friday
NOTE: Throughout July and August, The Hollywood Reporter's lead awards analyst and blogger Scott Feinberg will analyze each studio's 2012 awards outlook. He will then post his first "Feinberg Forecast" of the season -- featuring ranked projections for every major Oscar category -- on Sunday, Aug. 12.
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THE WEINSTEIN CO.
Last season, this mini-major, whose awards efforts are overseen by Harvey Weinstein, claimed Oscars for best picture, best director and best actor for the second year in a row, thanks to its Cannes acquisition The Artist, which followed in the footsteps of The King's Speech. The Weinstein Co. also took home Oscars for best actress (delivering Meryl Streep her long-awaited third statuette), best documentary feature (the sports-themed Undefeated prevailed in a fiercely competitive year), best costume design, best makeup and best original score. In short, 2011 reaffirmed that, for better or worse, nobody knows how to play the game like Harvey.
2012 FIRST-HALF SUMMARY
There was no celebratory vacation for this studio in the wake of its Oscars triumph. Little more than a month after the ceremony, following a barrage of advance publicity as a result of a ratings dispute between Weinstein and the MPAA, the studio released Lee Hirsch’s Bully, a doc that it had picked up at the Tribeca Film Festival. The $1.1 million film, which looks at the troubling rise in school bullying around the country, grossed a very respectable $3.5 million domestically, despite never playing on more than 263 screens.
Then, on May 25, the studio released Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s The Intouchables, an $11.5 million French film based on the true story of a wealthy middle-aged white man (played by Francois Cluzet) who became a paraplegic and hired an impoverished young black man (Omar Sy) to serve as his aide, resulting in an unlikely friendship. TWC purchased the film's North American distribution rights last summer, prior to its November release in France. By the time it opened stateside, it was already a blockbuster of historic proportions in France, where it is now the second-highest-grossing French film of all time. It has traveled well, too, grossing more than $355 million internationally; that's more than any other French film and, for that matter, any non-English-language film, save for The Passion of the Christ (2004). TWC hoped to capitalize on that international buzz here at home -- Weinstein himself even granted a series of interviews, speaking to everyone from Rachel Maddow on The Rachel Maddow Show (see 15:28 on) to film bloggers -- but American moviegoers have purchased only $5.7 million worth of tickets thus far.
2012 SECOND-HALF PREVIEW
No studio's second-half slate for 2012 -- save, perhaps, for Warner Bros.' -- is packed with more buzzed-about titles than TWC's.
Early in the fall, the studio will release two films that it premiered in May at Cannes, where they were greeted politely but didn't capture any prizes: John Hillcoat’s Lawless, arriving Aug. 29, is a Prohibition-era ensemble drama originally known as The Wettest County in the World, the title of the book from which it was adapted. Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, set for an Oct. 19 release, is a crime thriller starring Brad Pitt that was originally titled Cogan’s Trade, after the source book -- its new title sounding oddly like a 1995 Fugees song.