August 16, 2009 / 9:37 PM / 10 years ago

Weinstein Co in dire need of a hit: NY Times

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Weinstein Co, founded by the two brothers behind some of the most iconic films of the past 20 years, are under pressure for one of their next movies to be a blockbuster, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

Executive producer Harvey Weinstein (C) answers questions with (L to R) producer Tim Bricknell, actresses Jill Scott and Anika Noni and author Alexander McCall Smith during the HBO panel for "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Los Angeles January 9, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

A string of box office disappointments in recent years and shrinking DVD sales has left Weinstein Co — which is releasing Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” starring Brad Pitt, to theaters this week — under financial strain, the Times said.

Harvey and Bob Weinstein founded the company after they sold Miramax Films, the powerhouse studio behind such 1990s movies as “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love,” to Walt Disney Co in 2005.

Over the years, investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co has helped raised hundreds of millions of dollars to finance Weinstein Co’s projects.

Since 2005, the studio has released about 70 movies, one-fourth of which have earned $1 million or less, the Times reported.

Last week, restructuring specialists Miller Buckfire & Co recommended the Weinsteins limit themselves to releasing and promoting 10 movies a year, the Times wrote.

To bolster their finances, the Weinsteins received a bridge loan of about $75 million from Ziff Brothers Investment a few months ago, the paper reported, citing two people familiar with the loan.

“People have been predicting the Weinsteins’ demise ever since they started in the business, and they’re still here and still going strong,” a spokesman for The Weinstein Company said.

He declined to confirm the Miller Buckfire hire or the Ziff Brothers loan.

But Harvey Weinstein hinted the company could face major difficulties if it does not get a hit soon, the Times wrote.

“The ship’s riding on the slate,” the Times quotes him as saying. Otherwise, he said, by February, “I’ll be driving you or making cheap hamburgers or selling trailers or refrigerators or something. If the slate works, we’re right back to plan.”

Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Richard Chang, Gary Crosse

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