Monday, 20 February 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #853: We Got Oscars Give Us Money!

The Weinstein Company is looking for money, $150 million in financing to make more movies, keep up their operations, and retire some debt, to be precise.

The often financially troubled Weinstein Company is touting the critical/commercial success of last year's Best Picture Winner The King's Speech, and their current crop of Oscar contender The Artist, My Week With Marilyn, and The Iron Lady.

What do I think?

Well, I wouldn't invest if I had the millions to do it, and it's not because of the Weinstein Company's history of soured partnerships, litigation, and other problems like buying movies and sitting on them for years and years.

It's because of their business plan as illustrated in this picture...
The Artist is an excellent example of my point.  It's a silent movie, shot in black and white, and it comes from France.  Now normally you would think making a bit more than $25 million in limited release would be a success.

Well, if the words of critics, and audiences who actually saw the film are anything to go by, I think it might be losing an opportunity to make so much more.  Everyone I've talked to who have seen the film have nothing but praise for it. They love its energy, its lack of trendy cynicism, and most of all, they love its actually sincere heart.

So why isn't it doing better?

Because the Weinstein Company is putting all of its eggs into a little basket called the Academy Awards. They're hoping that some little golden men will create a much needed boost at the box office.

Except that the once inevitable Oscar bump just isn't guaranteed anymore. Then there's the schism.

What schism? you might ask.

The schism between the audience and the Academy Award winning movies.  Look at most of the recent winners and you'll see that many of them came out in limited Oscar qualifying releases, right at the very end of the nominating period, so they're fresh in Academy voter's minds, and pretty much all advertising and publicity is aimed towards those same Academy voters.

This little plan forgets one key fact:


They watch them at home on "screener" discs. They don't drop real money at theaters.

Meanwhile, those who do pay to see movies, hear about the nominated films, but only in the context of awards shows. There's nothing happening that tells them that this film is there to entertain them. In fact, everything tells them that these films are not for their entertainment, but to make Hollywood feel better about itself.

Now they could have hyped films like The Artist, The Iron Lady, and My Week With Marilyn to the wider audience. They all have elements that could have been used to connect with the wider public, but the Weinstein Company wants Oscar to do all that heavy lifting for them.

However, depending on Oscar only serves to perpetuate the concept that "awards movies" are a genre onto themselves. A genre which acts like it doesn't need the general ticket buying public.  This makes the ticket buying public ignore "awards movies" and makes successes like The King's Speech more of the exception rather than the rule.

Now can you see why I would be circumspect about giving them money?


  1. Blast Hardcheese21/2/12 10:28 am

    Having seen The Artist, I agree that with proper marketing and advertising they should have made 38 umpty ferjillion dollars on a wide release. But then, the Weinsteins don't know how to market anything. Every movie they make, the ad campaign boils down to 'It's arty! You can watch it and feel a pretentious d-bag!'

    Of course, nobody knows how to market anything in Hollywood anymore. Unless it's based on a previous property, no matter how tenuous (Battleship, anyone?) or features lots of kewl explosions and shooting (like, er, Battleship). Those, they can make ads for.

  2. Watching Spy Kids 4 sort of made me feel a pretentious d-bag.

  3. jepressman21/2/12 7:22 pm

    The Artist is a good film in an Oscar weak year. No grabbers this time.And yes marketing is off. Heck I don't even see movie posters anywhere these days, no coming attractions on billboards or anywhere else.So where is that money going...television? Sometimes it seems as if Hollywood is unraveling,bit by bit.The Oscars feel like a film festival,not an all-encompassing awards program. And the nastiness I now associate with Oscar blog sites has grown. You can't please everyone and a lot of those people don't seem to acknowledge that.