Awards Season Launch: The Best Picture Race

Can Harvey Weinstein score a hat trick?

For the past two years, the Weinstein Co. has nabbed the best picture Oscar with “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” At the most recent Academy Awards, company received a remarkable 16 Oscar nominations and eight wins — more than any other individual company. With strong contenders this year such as “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Master,” “Django Unchained,” “Killing Them Softly,” “Quartet” and “The Intouchables,” Harvey and Bob Weinstein could face another banner year at the 85th Academy Awards.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The industry may have written off the Weinsteins for a few years, between 2005, when they started their new company, and 2007, in which they had just one nom for “I’m Not There.” As TWC COO David Glasser admits, “We were unfocused at what we did best.”

These days, however, the company has recovered its awards season mojo in a major way. “Now we’re focused and we’re out there,” says Glasser, who praises Harvey Weinstein’s “gut” sense for tenaciously going after and marketing Oscar-friendly movies. Indeed, since the siblings started in the film business in 1979, their films have received 303 Academy Award nominations and won 75 statuettes.

This year, David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” a film that TWC produced, could very well be the movie to beat. Ratcheting up audience awards from Toronto to the Hamptons, the comedic drama follows in the footsteps of several previous best picture winners, from “Slumdog Millionaire” to “The King’s Speech.”

But the Weinsteins must also juggle campaigns for such high-profile entries as Paul Thomas Anderson’s critics fave “The Master” and “Django Unchained,” the latest from Quentin Tarantino, whose previous “Inglorious Basterds” received eight noms. “There is a lot of methodology that goes into this,” says Glasser. “You’ll notice that the films don’t sit on top of each other. We won’t take on too much for the fourth quarter.”

While sometimes there’s overlap, “It’s not like one child is getting more love than the other,” Glasser claims. (That said, TWC doesn’t appear to be supporting either Sean Penn starrer “This Must Be the Place” or VOD-led theatrical release “The Details” with campaigns.)

Given the Weinsteins’ track record, Glasser admits they have “a knack for looking at a great movie and figuring out how we can position it critically and commercially.

“But,” he adds, “we can never mix the potion and say, ‘This is going to be an award winner.'”

Award Season Launch: The Best Picture Race
Oscar’s dating game means business | New rules tweak song, foreign, vfx categories | Inside H’wood tales flatter Acad voters | The Weinstein Co has more in store | ‘Lincoln’ on ticket for Disney | Mature themes offer robust alternative to four-quad fare
Award Season Calendar 2012 – 2013: November – December | January – February

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