Weinstein brothers endure challenging second act

Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:27am EDT
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By Gregg Goldstein

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - As far as Harvey Weinstein is concerned, he and his brother Bob have been battling naysayers for 25 years.

Although they proved their critics wrong more than once during their long run at Miramax, when they walked away from the company they founded, they inevitably faced a chorus of skeptics who doubted their ability to create a new, independent entertainment company on a grand scale.

Since setting up their privately held Weinstein Co. in 2005 with $490 million in equity and a $500 million debt facility, the duo haven't reached the same highs they enjoyed at Miramax. Box office high points like 2006's "Scary Movie 4" (which grossed $178 million worldwide) and 2007's "1408" ($131 million) lacked the cultural sizzle and awards validation of "Pulp Fiction" or "Shakespeare in Love."

Two $4 million acquisitions, "Dedication" (purchased with First Look) and the Oscar-hyped "Grace Is Gone," grossed a poor $93,000 and $51,000 respectively at U.S. theaters last year.

But while their theatrical track record has been decidedly mixed, the Weinsteins say they've been busy building a 600-title library and tending to ancillary businesses such as home video and pay TV.

"The press only see the theatrical side of the business," Harvey said. "But you folks don't see a movie like 'The Reef,' selling three or four hundred thousand DVDs and doing big business at Blockbuster."

The brothers insist they've finally got all the elements in place to do justice to a full slate of films, some already shooting, others ready to go before the cameras.

Still, like everyone else in the indie film sector, the Weinsteins face a tightening credit market and a glut of films that have made scoring a hit ever harder. As a result, some question how the Weinstein Co. is financing its many projects.   Continued...

<p>Bob Weinstein (L) and his brother Harvey Weinstein, the founders of The Weinstein Co., an independent motion picture studio, pose at the premiere of their studio's film "1408" in Los Angeles, California June 12, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>