Embattled Weinsteins aim for royal rebound

Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:28am EDT
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By Gregg Kilday and Alex Ben Block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood loves nothing better than a tale of triumph over adversity.

So, after standing ovations at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Tom Hooper's "The King Speech" has shot to the front of the pack as an early Oscar favorite for Colin Firth's stirring portrayal of England's King George VI overcoming a speech impediment to rally his country on the eve of World War II.

Now the question is whether the embattled Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film stateside, can execute a similarly triumphant moment, turning the film into an awards juggernaut and the type of commercial success that could mark the beginning of the company's own comeback.

As awards season gets under way, there are plenty of skeptics who doubt whether the firm has the financial resources on hand for several simultaneous, full-scale Oscar campaigns as well as the release of the four movies it will bring to theaters this fall.

The company, founded by former Miramax bosses Bob and Harvey Weinstein, has regained its footing after undergoing a major financial restructuring in the summer, Weinstein senior executive David Glasser said.

"What the restructuring has done is given the company the ability to finance and distribute its slate. It's given the company a fresh start in going forward. We have a very smart, fixed budgets for the releases -- three or four pictures from Harvey and three or four pictures from Bob. It's a very focused slate going forward," Glasser said.

The producers of "The King's Speech" admitted they had heard all the naysayers when they were seeking partners for their movie, but when Harvey Weinstein pursued them, they were convinced he'd be a supportive partner -- and so far, he has more than lived up to his commitments.

"We obviously looked at that; we were assessing the best partners for the film," Emile Sherman said. "But at the end of the day, Harvey has proven himself as someone who champions movies like ours year in and year out. And we have faith he'll do that here."   Continued...