Harvey Weinstein just finished previewing three of his big fall/winter hopefuls for press gathered at the Majestic Hotel here at the Cannes Film Festival. As noted first on Deadline yesterday, The Weinstein Company decided to call the press corps together tonight to whet the appetite for previews of three films: Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, David O’Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and Quentin Tarantino’s Western throwback Django Unchained.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Master’
Weinstein started the slick, professionally produced and no-frills presentation by threatening to show his Bar Mitzvah film shot when he was 13 years old but never before seen in its “uncut” version. Fortunately he didn’t. Instead, he quickly introduced the three films and their business relationships to Weinstein. On Django, Weinstein shares all global rights with Sony, and he praised the partnership with Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton. On Silver the Weinstein Co holds all global rights; on The Master they will distributing globally as well. Before rolling the footage, Weinstein said, “These are some of the best films we have ever been associated with, if not the best”. When I asked him about that afterward, he explained that the company has returned to an association with auteur directors and the visions they have for the screen; he has always credited Tarantino with being one of the architects of the success of Weinstein’s former company, Miramax. He said the philosophy of a filmmaker-driven company has paid off not only with the three fall/Christmas releases showcased tonight but also with their other product that includes Andrew Dominik’s Brad Pitt starrer Killing Them Softly (premiering here tomorrow night) as well as his Cannes premiere Saturday night, Lawless, from director John Hillcoat. There is another upcoming film, Quartet, directed by that “young newcomer Dustin Hoffman”, whom Weinstein said he decided to “take a chance on”.
The three films highlighted tonight will be released in succession this fall: The Master (starring Joaquin Phoenix in a return to films, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams), involving a complex plot dealing with a Scientology-related religion (and obviously destined for controversy) opening in October. Silver Linings Playbook opens in November and is an adapted screenplay by Russell from the novel by Matthew Quick about a former resident of a mental institution (Bradley Cooper) who tries to mend relationships with his family and ex-wife. Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Stiles, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker co-star in supporting roles. It looks like Cooper’s most challenging screen role to date. And for Christmas Day, Weinstein is promising Tarantino’s provocative Western starring Jamie Foxx as an ex-slave out for revenge and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz as a diabolical travelling dentist who has a giant tooth atop his covered wagon. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson co-star.
About four minutes each of the first two film were shown, but a generous never-before-seen 10 minutes was unveiled from Django. Judging from the unconventional footage and politically incorrect dialogue, it should prove a wild and typically-Quentin ride for the Weinsteins — as is usually the case with Tarantino. None of these films are obviously easy to excerpt, and all look like works in progress, although Weinstein told me The Master is nearly finished. He said Django is in production for another month and may be adding a couple of “surprise” co-stars. At one time, Sacha Baron Cohen was slated to participate but had to drop out, and Kurt Russell’s schedule also became probematic for the production as he was committed elsewhere and they fell behind.
Certainly the nearly 20-minute presentation of all three upcoming 2012 flicks intrigued press members and critics in attendance. That was clearly the idea.
Also on hand tonight was CAA’s Bryan Lourd, who has a key connection with many of those involved in the Weinstein Co films previewed. When I pointed out they all seem to have Oscar prospects, he said he felt the early focus on Oscar contenders was “damaging to the industry”. That certainly may be as these sight-unseen incomplete features might ultimately have a hard time living up to advance Oscar blogger hype (who knows at this point?). Nevertheless it goes with the territory, especially when you are in business with Harvey Weinstein.