Sunday, 27 September 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #380: Oh Those Weinsteins...

Welcome to the show folks...

Here's a little update on the sinking ship otherwise known as The Weinstein Company. Tom Ortenberg, who only became president of theatrical films a little more than eight months ago, has skedaddled for "personal reasons."

I joked that personally wanted to get paid, and that's why he left.

The Wrap says that despite his record with running Lionsgate the head honchos, Harvey and Bob, kept him at arms length and prevented him from doing what they allegedly hired him for, namely the running an independent film company.

Then there's the company's ongoing money troubles. There's $600 million in debt that needs to be paid, including $75 million in debt to the Ziff Brothers financial firm that's not getting paid, and is currently accruing mucho interest, hence digging their hole deeper. Dir
k Ziff, despite claims of still being a friend of Harvey's who is still willing to work with the company, has left his seat on the TWC board, which I don't think is a good sign.

Miller Buckfire, their restructuring consultants, has them laying off whoever might be left from the company's last round of layoffs, but I'm not sure that really gets to the root of the problem.

A fish rots at the head, and all the problems seem to point directly to Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Let's look at the facts...

1. People have lost track of the number of independent films the Weinstein Co. purchased since the company's inception, only to be buried by TWC because they might compete for awards and box office with films directly produced by the Weinsteins.

2. Filmmakers that aren't part of the select clique of Weinstein friends have nothing but bitterness and resentment towards TWC after doing business with them.

3. The Weinstein Co. has put most of their eggs in Oscar's basket. Putting more into winning awards in an age when the general audience don't really give a crap about Oscars anymore. The once expected "Oscar Bounce" is now rarer than hen's teeth.

4. They hire an experienced independent film executive like Tom Ortenberg, and then don't let him make any decisions, because all the power is in the hands of the two Weinsteins, who don't appear all that big on delegating authority.

5. $1.2 billion in equity investment and loans are gone, poof like a fart in a hurricane. Showing that the business model of paying too much for films that end up being seen by too few, is not the way to run a railroad, no matter how their status as "assets" may look on the books when pitching the company to investors. Despite the success of Inglorious Bastards, and the possibility that Halloween 2 broke even (though I don't know what they spent on P&A) there were just too many overpriced jokers in their deck.

Which brings me to the conclusion, that the biggest problem the Weinstein Co. has is that it's a Weinstein company.

No comments:

Post a Comment