Harvey Weinstein is one of the most powerful, outspoken, and controversial men in Hollywood. The studio executive who launched Miramax and The Weinstein Company is a passionate film lover, a master promoter, a ruthless Oscar campaigner, and just about everything else you need to be in order to make it to the top in the business. Even if you find what he does unscrupulous or the content he produces not very good, it is hard not to admire the man for how successful he has made himself, no matter how frustrating it might be.
Weinstein recently had a chat with Deadline, covering a wide variety of topics from the Netflix series “Marco Polo” to the troubles with the upcoming Broadway musical adaptation of Finding Neverland to Oscar campaigning to his reputation of recutting films, giving him the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands.”
I had no idea the Weinsteins were behind “Marco Polo”, mainly because that show is barely a blip on my radar. I honestly do not know a single person who has watched or is interested in watching that show. According to Harvey, though, it has been quite the success:
I applaud them for those casting decisions… but I am still not interested in the show. The Weinsteins are also working on another project with Netflix: the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, which will simultaneously be released on Netflix and on IMAX screens. This tactic has a lot of theaters feeling cheated.
The rise of Video on Demand is, unfortunately, happening, and Harvey is willing to go along with it. The Weinstein Company recently had a pretty good VOD success with Snowpiercer.
This gets to the heart of his “Harvey Scissorhands” nickname. Harvey has become rather infamous for getting a final cut of the film and greatly tinkering with it. Recently, The Grandmaster fell victim to this cutting, having around 20 minutes cut from the original Chinese release. The result was pretty horrible, having title cards explain the story between action scenes. The interview, coincidentally, doesn’t cover that… Puff piece? Snowpiercer was one Weinstein wanted to cut, but Bong Joon-ho stuck to his guns on that one.
Another film under this threat is the still domestically unreleased Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly. The film has received pretty horrific reviews out of Cannes and places where it actually has opened. Harvey attributes this to the director veering totally off of what the script was:
He attests, though, there is still good material to be mined out of what was shot to get the “writer’s cut”:
My question is: why would you hire someone to direct the film if his vision of it is totally off from yours? That does not make a lot of sense to me. If they had, you know, talked about what they wanted to do beforehand, Harvey would have seen it was not the right fit. Or maybe he is backpedalling and does not want to take blame for anything?
An interview is not complete with Harvey Weinstein unless you talk about the Oscars. Weinstein is behind one of this year’s Best Picture nominees, The Imitation Game, which seems to be falling out of favor somewhat. Obviously, he would like to see the film take home that honor (it won’t), but Harvey has much bigger aspirations for what he would like the film to accomplish.
He equates this with the result of Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line, which famously was a big reason for the release of Randall Adams after he was wrongly convicted of murder. I agree that all 49,000 people who were prosecuted for being gay should be pardoned, and if this movie is able to help achieve that, great! It’s still not winning Best Picture…
There is so much more in his interview with Deadline, including some talk about Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight and the coexisting of film and digital. I highly suggest giving it a read, even if the interviewer is a bit light on follow up questions and not giving pushback on Harvey’s answers. You will also see how the interviewer equates the Sony hack with Charlie Hebdo, which is so wrong I could write a whole new article about that (people being murdered does not equal some personal information getting out). I won’t. I’m calm.
Harvey Wesintein is a fascinating figure, even if a bit detestable at times. I like a lot of things he has produced and will usually be interested in the projects he has on his slate. Again, you can read the interview here.