Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media has stepped in to co-finance the $80 million Rob Marshall musical “Nine,” the jewel in Harvey Weinstein’s crown.
Weinstein is also currently seeking a partner for inhouse auteur Quentin Tarantino’s WWII spaghetti Western “Inglorious Bastards,” a longtime passion project for the mogul. Tarantino is determined to finish the film in time for next year’s Cannes festival.
The Weinstein Co. will distribute domestically; Lawrence Bender is producing.
“Nine,” which is set to lense in the fall with Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman toplining, suffered delays due to the writers strike. Javier Bardem dropped out of the project soon after he won the Oscar, and Marshall left his longtime ICM agent amid the stalls.
While backing these two major pictures, there are problems with other units of the company. Among TWC’s recent woes is the decline in value of Genius Products (in which TWC owns 70%).
TWC had some international territories for “Forbidden Kingdom” and co-financed “Rambo.” The company also released “Halloween” and “1408” though MGM and partnered on Sundance pick-up “Under the Same Moon” with Fox Searchlight. Michael Moore’s Oscar-nominated “Sicko” grossed $25 million.
Moore took the deal for his “Fahrenheit 9/11” follow-up to rivals Overture and Paramount Vantage. According to a spokesman for TWC, they had a contract to release the film pre-election, but the company didn’t want the film six months after George Bush had left office. Sources put the production figure at $20 million, which the Weinstein company supposedly balked at.
Among the high-profile misses were the three-hour Robert Rodriguez/Tarantino “Grindhouse”; “The Nanny Diaries”; and would-be Oscar entry “The Great Debaters.” Sundance pickup “Grace Is Gone” was a B.O. no-show.
There have been exec anklings from TWC’s Tribeca offices of late: international prexy Glen Basner, whom the Weinsteins hired from Focus Features Intl is expected to leave at the end of the month, and Matthew Frankel, who came over from Rainbow Media seven months ago, has already left the building. Sources say the parting was mutual.
Recently, TWC pickup “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” from longtime Weinstein Co. filmmaker Woody Allen, drew raves at the recent Cannes Film Festival and Oscar talk for co-stars Bardem and Cruz. The company also has the commercially promising Seth Rogen starrer “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” awaiting release.
As for upcoming pics, TWC purchased North American distribution rights to Gillian Armstrong’s Harry Houdini film “Death Defying Acts” for $5 million at the 2007 American Film Market off a product reel. The movie opens in just two theaters on July 11.
And the John Cusack starrer “Shanghai” was prevented from filming in China by the disgruntled China Film Board, which nixed permits for other films as well. The project is currently filming in Thailand.
Just last month, the Weinsteins announced a slew of deals, including their first-ever TV development slate as well as the hiring of a new domestic distribution head, New Line alum David Spiegelman.
Company also a made a well-publicized shift of its “Project Runway” as well as selling a large chunk of its library to Lifetime. Deal is said to be worth north of $200 million.
(Dade Hayes in New York contributed to this report.)