The company’s recent forays into the film business cast a shadow over the gathering of producers, but Weinstein welcomed the company’s encroachment.
Of course, he has a vested interest in the streaming service’s success. Weinstein is producing a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” that will premiere simultaneously on Netflix and on Imax.
“The reason why [Netflix is] winning is they have a vision,” Weinstein said. “Most executives love money, they don’t love movies … they love movies,” he added.
Theater chains were in an uproar when the deal leaked, and major exhibitors such as Regal, AMC and Cinemark are boycotting the release. They claim that offering the film online at the same time it hits the bigscreen cannibalizes their business.
Weinstein said he was surprised by the outcry because “honestly, we thought Imax had that in hand.” He said it remains to be seen whether or not some theater chains will relent and screen the martial arts sequel, but that his personal preference would be to see the film in Imax.
The deal was about giving consumers choice, he argued, but for the Weinstein Co., it was also about securing a $60 million budget for a massive action film — the kind of picture the indie label rarely gets to make.
“They gave us a big canvas to paint on,” Weinstein said, one that included “all the toys and candy.”
The outspoken, often abrasive producer of such classics as “Pulp Fiction” and “The King’s Speech” also took aim at directors who say he is overly involved in the production of their movies, particularly the time spent in the editing bay. He has earned the moniker “Harvey Scissorhands” for the control he exerts on a movie’s final cut.
Most recently, Weinstein clashed with Korean director Bong Joon-ho on the release of the futuristic adventure “Snowpiercer.” Weinstein said he felt the film was muddled and would benefit from a tighter run-time. Bong was furious and refused to make the changes.
“To me it needed some straightening out,” said Weinstein, before adding that he showed it to five director friends who suggested cutting 40 minutes of the film.
Bong’s cut was eventually released simultaneously on demand and in theaters, becoming one of the year’s most popular VOD releases.
“We kept his original vision and it worked out for everybody because it became a celebrated movie,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein went on to note that directors such Giuseppe Tornatore, who released unedited versions of their films, have found that the altered editions he demanded played better. Roger Ebert argued that Weinstein’s truncated version of Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso” was an improvement on the director’s cut.
“I love directors cuts … they make me look like a genius,” Weinstein joked.
At 62, Weinstein shows no signs of slowing down.
Asked if he’d ever retire, the indie mogul quipped, “I would like to run a small Caribbean nation. Something with a military.”