There was a time when Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the heroes of American cinema. Their company Miramax had made a powerful name for itself in film, and they seemed to be the only people in the business who were actually in touch with the audience.
Now, however, we are seeing that these guys are just big douchebags, like so many other people in the business.
After bailing from Disney, whom they blamed for their troubles, the brothers founded The Weinstein Company, which was to produce and distribute high-quality independent films and kick-ass genre releases under the Dimension banner. That split happened in late 2005, and the Weinstein Company had a nice list of award nominees for the upcoming season.
However, once they burned through their slate of Miramax properties, their tightly-wound grip on the industry began to unravel. Now, other upstart companies like Lionsgate and Paramount Vantage are filling the artistic void the Weinsteins have left.
And this is why I am presenting you with ten reasons why the Weinsteins can kiss my fat, furry ass.
10. Any movie they don’t screen for critics – With the exception of last year’s SiCKO (which was already available on YouTube prior to release), we haven’t received a screening of a full-blown Weinstein movie in the past two years. The Dimension and MGM releases have been a little more forthcoming with press screenings, but even those have plenty of films left off the schedule.
9. Voice-over shenanigans – The Weinsteins re-dubbed the otherwise cute Magic Roundabout with an American cast and turned it into a turd known as Doogal. Nothing like a farting moose and Jimmy Fallon to make a film appealing for the whole family. Soon after this, they ruined Luc Besson’s film Arthur and the Invisibles by making changes for the American audience (including Jimmy Fallon again in voice-over stupidity). I thought these guys were supposed to preserve the integrity of their movies.
8. Feast – This was supposed to be the big push of the Project Greenlight series into genre films, with a hope for mainstream audiences. Instead, a botched theatrical release had the film landing in theaters anywhere from a few weeks to a few days before the DVD hit the shelves. It served as the death knell for the ill-fated Project Greenlight films (which were never that good, anyway).
7. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane – In his column this week, our illustrious Executive Editor Neil Miller opined that All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was given the shaft. Here’s a movie that has rotted on the Weinstein shelf so long that the director has already made another movie. I attended a press screening for this last year, and the film was mysteriously pulled from all release schedules shortly afterwards. Then, in a stellar act of over-thinking and second-guessing themselves to the detriment of the filmmaker, they dropped it like a hot potato.
6. Stormbreaker – This was one of the biggest botched releases I can remember from the Weinsteins. After delaying the film an uncanny number of times to avoid confusion with Agent Cody Banks, Stormbreaker was literally sneaked into theaters. One day, while I was checking out Saw III, I noticed Stormbreaker was playing on another screen. I called my local rep and told her about it, and she said, “I just found out myself.” How incompetent do you have to be to not let your own publicity field reps know your $40 million movie is opening in their market?
5. Shoalin Soccer – At the time, it was the highest-grossing Chinese film ever. Then the Weinsteins got their hands on it and made so many changes that the American release bombed as a dumbed down, truncated mess. Plus, the release date was shuffled around so many times, the advertising and buzz was completely wasted. No wonder it made less than half a million while Stephen Chow’s competently released follow up Kung Fu Hustle made $17 million.
4. Dogma – If you remember the controversy surrounding this film, it was the Catholic Church versus Disney. The Weinsteins managed to paint themselves as heroes by finding a new distributor, but it makes me wonder what really went on behind closed doors. Their names appear nowhere in the film’s proper credits, and not long afterwards (as with the aforementioned Shoalin Soccer), they began diddling with their distribution slate. Might this be remembered as the first step the Weinstein’s took to the dark side?
3. Grindhouse on DVD – This has been a sore spot for me ever since the Weinsteins announced that they were splitting Grindhouse into two films for the DVD release. That technique didn’t work for the international market, and it failed on DVD as well. Here was a film that stood to have a huge life on DVD, and it was divided and conquered before it got a chance. We’re still waiting for the full-blown Grindhouse experience on DVD… and don’t expect it any time soon, unless you live in Japan.
2. Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair – Ever since Kill Bill was split into two films (which wasn’t a bad idea for its theatrical run, but then again, that was when Disney was running the show), we’ve been eagerly awaiting a compilation DVD collector’s edition. Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair was supposed to come out earlier this year. But like so many other Weinstein properties, it has been put on the shelf to collect dust.
1. Fanboys – What can I say about Fanboys that hasn’t already been said? The forced edits, vanishing theatrical release and the wishy-washy upcoming DVD (from the inappropriately-named Genius Products) has spawned the “Stop Darth Weinstein” movement. If there has ever been an example of a distributor needlessly tinkering with their films, dishonoring the filmmakers and ignoring the fans, this is it. What has happened to Fanboys should serve as a lesson to any independent filmmaker out there. Avoid the Weinsteins at all costs. They will more than likely ruin your film, then never release it.