With a $32 million domestic gross – and still counting – before its upcoming July 7 DVD release, The Weinstein Company’s sleeper specialty hit, Woman In Gold is currently the top ranking independent release of 2015. And now, as everyone else seems to be knee deep in Emmy campaigning, the Weinsteins (who else but Harvey?) are officially launching their Oscar campaign for a Best Actress bid for star Helen Mirren in the Simon Curtis-directed hit drama about an Austrian native who fled during WWII and returns to her home country with a young American lawyer to get back a valuable Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis. The company is adding several hundred theaters today in what they label an “encore engagement” and supporting it with newspaper ads touting Mirren’s recent Tony win for Best Actress and promoting her for another Academy Award. In bold letters it reads: “THANK YOU, TONY! HELLO OSCAR! Helen Mirren won a TONY for her brilliant performance in ‘The Audience.’ This year, critics are RAVING about her OSCAR-CALIBER PERFORMANCE in ‘Woman In Gold’.” In small print it also says: “P.S. We’re not forgetting about Ryan and Tatiana,” referring to co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Tatiana Maslany, but this campaign launch is clearly all about Dame Helen. And as far as I can tell it is the most blatant Oscar campaigning so far this year.
Usually studios will hold back until at least the Fall before doing these kinds of ads, but then again this is from the house that Harvey built and Weinstein is definitely the architect of the modern day Oscar campaign. So why not start early. heh? It’s interesting that the company uses the phrase “critics are RAVING” since the movie, which stands with a divided 52% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, had to withstand a blistering critical reaction when it debuted in not-quite-finished form at the Berlin Film Festival in February. They were largely kind to Mirren though whose performance is more than award worthy in this moving film.
Curtis returned after that wobbly (and in my opinion, wildly unfair) reception from critics to actually finish his film in the way it was intended to be seen. When it finally opened domestically on April Fools’ Day, April 1, the joke was on those critics, since mature audiences rose up and made the movie an indie success against all odds. Much of that is due to Mirren, who turns 70 next month, and has great pulling power, particularly with older audiences who have kept this film steadily running for nearly three months. She is also enormously popular with Oscar voters, having been nominated four times and winning for The Queen. Now with that Tony for The Audience, along with four Emmys, she has won acting’s trifecta and is one Grammy short of entering the rare circle of EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar , Tony) winners. She has a rare distinction of being the only actress to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony for playing English Queens. But apparently one Oscar is not enough, at least as far as Harvey Weinstein is concerned. He wants to see this Woman WITH Gold yet again.