Sunday, 4 January 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #211: You Don't Have To Be A Genius, But It Helps

I'm really starting to think Harvey Weinstein has given up on actually being in the movie business.

Back when the Weinstein Company was showing cracks Harvey was his usual ebullient self, declaring that the video distribution company Genius Products was going to see them through in style.

Not exactly.

According to the inestimable Nikki Finke and others Genius is now losing money like every other division of the Weinstein Company.

It seems that Genius didn't know the rules of being a home video distributor.

1. Release movies people want to see.

2. Make sure the people who want to see those movies know they exist.

3. Make sure those films are available to the people who want to see those movies.

If you look at the Weinstein Company's record lately it's known more for not releasing movies than for releasing them. I've lost count of the number of stories of films being bumped (
The Road), slumped (Zack & Miri...), or just plain dumped (Death Defying Acts) by the various and sundry facets of the increasingly convoluted Weinstein Company.

They are releasing films that the majority of the audience clearly does not want to see. Films that people want to see, even if only out of curiosity, get bumped back farther and farther until all potential interest has wasted away into nothingness, or get dumped without fanfare into DVD discount bins.

How can a film company make money when they aren't doing anything to actually make money?

And it's not just the films and the investors that are suffering. There are even more stories about filmmakers raging about their treatment at the hands of the Weinstein Company, and to be more specific, Harvey. Anyone who doesn't belong to some sort of elite "Friends of Harvey" club are treated with all the respect one would show to something found on the sole of one's shoe.

Now how can a film company make money when you reach a saturation point in pissed-off people and none of the people who actually make films will work for you?

So you have to wonder why is all this happening? Why is a company supposedly run by a master deal maker and movie business maven dissolving like a sandcastle in the rain?

Because Harvey's heart and his brain don't seem to be in it anymore, only his ego.

There's no real passion in his work, simply a desire to control, dominate, and assert that he is Harvey -Fucking- Weinstein and don't you forget it compelling him to make irrational business decisions. The ultimate symptom is how he's treating The Reader. The film's style, stars, and subject matter means that its commercial appeal is limited, so profit is not the motive. Yet Harvey fought like hell, pressuring everyone involved to get it released in time to qualify for the Oscars, at great expense, not only of money, but of relationships, both business and personal and even of other films on the Weinstein Co. release slate.

Harvey doesn't seem to care who his steps on, how much money his investors lose, or how many of his films suffer, he wants another goddamn Oscar on his shelf and nothing is going to get in the way. As if another Oscar would somehow make everything all right.

It won't, the impact of the Oscars are dwindling, and the odds are that he's made too many enemies among Academy voters to get what he covets most.

To succeed in the movie biz, one needs to passionately believe in their work, smart enough to get that work made and sold right, and have just enough ego to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. But when all you have is ego, and it's become more than a defence, transforming into the major decision maker, it's time to get out of the business, because you're only going to make a fool of yourself and get snarked on by smart-ass know it all bloggers like me.

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