After weeks of contract renegotiations, the Weinstein Co. is about to sign a new deal to retain the U.S. distribution rights of “Grace of Monaco,” Variety has learned.
Under the pact, reached with the film’s producers on Wednesday, the same day “Grace” is scheduled to premiere as the opening night film at Cannes, Harvey Weinstein has agreed to acquire the rights for $3 million — which is $2 million less than he had originally intended to fork out under a previous contract. But there will be incentives built in based on box-office performance.
The version of the film screened in the United States will be Dahan’s cut. If any changes are made, they will be mutually approved by Weinstein and Dahan working together, according to the new contract. Even though “Grace of Monaco” doesn’t have a U.S. release date yet, it will likely open at the end of the summer or early fall.
The Nicole Kidman biopic about Grace Kelly has been long delayed and has been the subject of continuous off-screen drama. Weinstein and the filmmakers had initially discussed a November 2013 window, but subsequently set a mid-March launch for the sophisticated adult drama.
When Weinstein saw a rough cut of director Olivier Dahan’s version last year, he thought the story was too dark. He wanted the film to emphasize the romantic backstory of how the beautiful actress became a princess — essentially capturing her life and relationship as more of a fairy tale.
“I like to collaborate,” Dahan said in an interview with Variety earlier this month. “From my point of view, the room was always wide open for (Weinstein), but I never really met him. I sent him different versions of the work in progress, but I never received any feedback.” The director spent nearly a year in editing, trying to find the right balance for the film’s many layers: glamour, romance, political intrigue and female empowerment.
Still, Weinstein pushed for the version of the movie that he envisioned, believing it would be far friendlier to U.S. audiences — not to mention Oscar voters.
“When Harvey created the idea of going for the Oscars, suddenly we were in a hurry and had a double rhythm,” said French producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam in an interview with Variety. “I guess that’s where the problems started.”
Tensions mounted when Dahan disagreed with Weinstein’s changes, and publicly aired his concerns, creating a standstill between the two sides.
Weinstein was then blindsided by an announcement in the spring that the film had landed a deal for the director’s version of the film to debut at Cannes. “Grace of Monaco” opens Wednesday, May 14 in France, and has summer release dates in more than 20 countries, including England, Greece, Spain and Australia.
In the spring, Kidman met with Harvey and TWC chief David Glasser and strongly expressed her desire for their company to support her movie in America, according to a knowledgeable source. Consequently, in recent weeks, Weinstein and the producers resumed discussions in hopes of resolving their differences and striking a new distribution deal. YRF Entertainment CEO Uday Chopra, who financed the film, played a key role last week in easing tensions between Weinstein and Dahan.
Weinstein will not be attending the Cannes premiere of “Grace” due to a prior commitment.
“My wife, Georgina, and I have been in Jordan visiting two Syrian refugee camps, Al Zaatari yesterday and Azraq today,” Weinstein said in an exclusive statement to Variety. “This was a long planned trip with the UNHCR and our friend Neil Gaiman to bring attention plight of refugees who have been forced to flee Syria and the incredible work of UNHCR.
“I’m wishing Olivier, Nicole, Pierre Ange and Uday and the ‘Grace of Monaco’ team all the best for the screening in Cannes tonight.”