The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Weinstein Co. is facing a serious cash squeeze, and needs a fresh capital infusion or successive box-office blockbusters to ease the growing pressure.
Here are the upcoming movies that need to perform:
The Road (Nov 25)
Based on Cormac McCarthy’s bleak best-selling novel about a boy and his father trying to survive in post-apocalyptic America, “The Road” is undoubtedly the toughest sell in the Weinstein Co’s slate. Viggo Mortensen delivers a penetrating performance that’s already garnered rave reviews on the festival circuit, but the film’s unremitting grimness may not exactly translate to ticket sales. Possibly too arty for the horror crowd and too horrific for the art-house audience, “The Road” faces a difficult path ahead. The film’s best chance at success is an early 2010 boost from potential award season accolades.
Nine (Nov 25)
Rob Marshall’s “Nine” exemplifies the type of film the Weinsteins know how to make into a significant fall movie event. With more Academy nominees and winners than the Vanity Fair Oscar party (it stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren), this screen adaptation of the Tony-Award-winning 1982 musical — itself inspired by Federico Fellini’s foreign classic “8 ½” – is an attempt to repeat the success of the Weinsteins’ 2002 blockbuster “Chicago.” That film, also directed by Rob Marshall, grossed more than $300 million worldwide and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. There’s no way to tell whether “Nine” can match its predecessor; musicals are always risky (see “Australia”), but the hot-blooded song-and-dance numbers of the source material could be just thing to draw audiences looking for something big and sexy.
A Single Man (Dec)
The toast of the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, where the Weinstein Co. acquired the movie among fierce competition, “A Single Man” tells the story of a gay British college professor in the 1960s coping with the death of his lover. Starring Colin Firth, who won the Venice festival’s best actor prize, and the directorial debut of fashion maven Tom Ford, the movie is a strong contender for award-season spots and a likely curiosity for fashion buffs. Early reviews have been strong, with Variety calling it “luminous and treasurable” and Time magazine saying Firth’s performance “will win audience’s hearts.” Despite such acclaim, the film’s basic premise- involving homosexuality and grief -– may limit broad appeal.
Youth in Revolt (January 15)
This quirky teen comedy, starring rising star Michael Cera (”Superbad,” “Juno”), premiered in Toronto, drew no shortage of avid followers and comparisons to Cera’s previous successes. Based on C.D. Payne’s 1993 cult novel, the film chronicles the exploits of Nick Twist, a horny, awkward teenager who employs a bad-boy alter-ego, along with all manner of illegal hijinks, to win over the girl of his dreams. Hollywood Reporter predicted “word of mouth” would “drive strong business.” But the film’s October release date was pushed back to the nether-regions of January, typically home to urban fare and Oscar-run expansions, not for this sort of picture. The movie’s R rating may also give parents pause about letting their young teens attend.
Hoodwinked 2 (January, tentative)
With 2005’s “Hoodwinked,” an irreverent CG-animated riff on “Little Red Riding Hood,” TWC saw its first major hit, with more than $51 million in domestic ticket sales. This sequel, calculated for repeat business, features the return of supporting players (Glenn Close, Andy Dick), creative forces (screenwriter Cory Edwards) and a tongue-in-cheek detective plot, specifically fashioned for the enjoyment of both adults and kids. If the company can stay out of the away of other animated family films (i.e. Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”), the second outing could prove the adage: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
“Piranha 3-D” (April 16)
Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films has always provided the reliable cash cows to keep TWC in the black, and this horror re-make has been engineered for just such purposes. Directed by Spanish horror maven Alexandre Aja (”The Hills Have Eyes”), the film updates the original film’s premise of murderous flesh-eating piranha fish with a more contemporary target: July 4th drunken revelers (horror auteur Eli Roth appears as a Wet T-shirt contest emcee). But in today’s day and age, there are no safe bets: The company’s late summer release of “Halloween II” ($32 million) won’t even come close to their original 2007 “Halloween” reboot ($58 million). Then again, if the kids come out looking for horror-filled fun, Dimension could have another potential franchise on their hands.
No release dates
“All Good Things” – Andrew Jarecki (”Capturing the Friedmans) directs this detective drama starring Ryan Gosling (”The Notebook) and Kirsten Dunst (”Spider-Man”).
“Shanghai” – Set in Shanghai before the attacks on Pearl Harbor, this romantic thriller stars John Cusack as an American who investigates the murder of a friend and encounters love and conspiracies along the way.
“Nerveracker” – Robert Rodriquez (Dimension’s “Spy Kids”) directs this futuristic thriller about a special agent working to prevent crime in a supposedly perfect society.
“Nowhere Boy” – A British film about the early life of John Lennon.