Just last fall, everyone was talking about how Harvey Weinstein had finally gone too far and spent too much. Predictions abounded that the brash and burly Miramax cochairman and his slate of films would go belly-up after a decade-long winning streak. But by the time this year’s Oscar nominations were announced, it was pretty clear that once again, reports of Weinstein’s professional demise were greatly exaggerated.
Miramax’s 40 Academy Award nominations represent one of the highest totals for any studio in history, and Weinstein’s prints are on four of the five Best Picture nominees. Chicago, with 13 nods, is on its way to becoming the highest-grossing live-action musical since Grease, and Gangs of New York overcame a troubled production to score a second-best 10 nominations (Weinstein himself is nominated as a producer of the film). In addition, Miramax and Paramount coproduced nine-time nominee The Hours, and Weinstein and brother Bob share executive-producer credit on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (not to mention Miramax’s 2 1/2 percent of the trilogy’s sure-to-be-massive profits). In addition, Miramax scored an impressive six nominations for Julie Taymor’s Frida, and single nods for The Quiet American and the still-unreleased Chinese import Hero, a best foreign film contender.
Now, as everyone continues to talk about how Weinstein pushed his way to the top again, Entertainment Weekly went to the man who can be as charming as Billy Flynn or as scary as Bill the Butcher for some answers.
He Has It Coming
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Let’s start at the bottom line. How much additional box office can be squeezed from multiple Oscar nods?
WEINSTEIN If Chicago didn’t win a Golden Globe and get Oscar nominations, it would be a $75 million [-grossing]movie — appreciated, loved, like a Moulin Rouge. [Now,] there is a revolution that will take place, and it’s going to help everybody in town. I’m not saying this for votes. Steven Soderbergh said to me the other day, ”I want to make a musical and they’ve got to sing and dance on the streets of New York.” I’ve had 5,000 conversations with Steven Soderbergh and we never talked about people singing. So what it will do is, it’ll change what the formula of a blockbuster movie is. If you can get Chicago to gross $150 million, that means people don’t have to make blockbusters that are idiotic. Instead of making the comic-book-hero blockbuster, they can [remake] West Side Story. Great! We’ve revived the genre. It was Baz [Luhrmann with Moulin Rouge] first, and we’re the icing on the cake.
EW How do you determine how to juggle marketing dollars after the nominations? Is it based on the number of nominations?
WEINSTEIN I will be prejudiced in one area and one area only. I am gonna go door-to-door for Marty [Scorsese, for Best Director]. I just read an article saying Alfred Hitchcock didn’t get one. Stanley Kubrick didn’t get one. So what? Maybe there wasn’t anybody around who said, ”There is an injustice here that needs to be corrected.” They’re not giving it to him for Gangs of New York. They’re giving it to him because of his work. I’ve got news for you and I’ll say this candidly: Marty would love to win the Oscar, for his body of work, for Gangs of New York, for whatever it is. Marty would like to get one of those golden guys.