If Harvey Weinstein didn't exist, someone would have to invent him. One week his garbage gets recycled into source material for The Village Voice, the next he and his brother Bob cut a 95-film, multi-year deal with Showtime and resurrect Scream. And then he gives a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter which includes his explanation for why The Weinstein Co. created Third Rail Relasing, a new distribution label. Is it to showcase undiscovered independent gems? Introduce the world to global filmmaking talent?
No, it's for dumping the garbage. He told THR: "We should have had Third Rail two years ago, t's a good way of differentiating between what we really believe in, and what has been for ancillary value."
Third Rail recently released Death Defying Acts, with Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones, admittedly only to fulfill a contractual obligation. Other barely there releases this year include music doc Lou Reed's Berlin, Hong Kong action flick Flash Point, and Aussic croc thriller Rogue. (I really liked the latter two, by the way.) The widest release (48 theaters, per Box Office Mojo) was George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, which made just under one million dollars. But I guess Harvey didn't "really believe" in any of them.
I understand movie executives have to be ruthless nowadays in evaluating the commercial prospects of films they acquire. For all I know, Harvey Weinstein might have personally loved the films he dumped to video. I suppose he can also be described as honest for saying he didn't really believe those particular films would do well in the crowded theatrical marketplace. Still -- and this may be unfair on my part -- it just rubs me the wrong way.
One thing is clear: he is happy for the money that comes in from DVD sales. "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." One reason we haven't written about The Reef, an animated film that sounds an awful lot like the bastard child of Finding Nemo and Shark Tale, is because it never got theatrical distribution in the US under its original title, Shark Bait. Frankly, I'd never head of it until now, but I'll be sure to check it out now.[ Thanks to indieWIRE for highlighting the money quote. ]