I read this New York Times story on the successes and failures of The Weinstein Co. and didn’t know what to think. On the one hand the studio has definitely had its share of bombs, that’s undeniable. But I think there’s a bigger problem at work.
If memory serves, The Weinstein Co. started off with the brothers Weinstein buying from Miramax the library of films they had produced while running that shingle but which had never gotten released. These films made up the lion’s share of the company’s initial slate of offerings as it dumped movies like The Libertine and The Gathering into theaters. They hit screens with little in the way of marketing support and even worse buzz from critics.
There were a few successes to be sure but they weren’t enough to offset the disappointments. And, as the NYT story says, there were a lot more distribution houses for prestige films then there were in the heyday of Miramax. So Weinstein couldn’t always attract the best films. The few times they venture out from niche fare and try for a broader audience like they did with Grindhouse, it winds up being a film that should have stayed in the niche.
I actually think the Weinstein Co. needs to get out of their model of making or distributing arthouse films that star marquee talent. Think English Patient and Shakespeare in Love, Nanny Diaries and others. Just stop. They’re essentially trying to have the best of both worlds, but that doesn’t always work. But this is what brought them initial success and a lot of Oscars so they’re sticking with it.
Instead try to go really indie. Stop competing with Universal and start competing with THINKFilm for scripts and completed films that are on the market. And stop putting all of $57 into the marketing. The websites for some of TWC’s initial films were more than a little embarrassing. Go guerrilla, with lots of social-media friendly online assets and mainstream ads that effectively target the appropriate niche.
That’s just my opinion, but I think TWC needs to rethink who it is and what it’s going to try to be in order to survive for much longer if the rumbling the story says is happening is real.