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Harvey Weinstein Says He'll Probably Lose Money on 'The Master,' Wishes He Had Marketed It Differently

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by Charlie Schmidlin
January 29, 2013 9:45 AM
24 Comments
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With essentially only the Oscars left to lavish praise upon 2012's films, it seems the opaque, askew nature of Paul Thomas Anderson's “The Master” has left voters with just acting nominations to fully commend. Not that Harvey Weinstein hasn't put his entire support behind the picture to garner more; quite the opposite, but according to him, awards recognition is not the only realm the film will come up short.

Thus far, “The Master” has only taken in $24 million worldwide -- nowhere near a runaway success for PTA -- and in a Sundance chat with Deadline, Weinstein confirmed just as much. When asked if the $30 million-budgeted film will make any money for The Weinstein Company or anyone else, he responded, “Probably not, and I just feel bad for [Annapurna Pictures'] Megan Ellison on that. I think it's a great movie and god bless her for bringing these great movies into the world.”

He then admitted he “probably could have marketed it better;” an interesting comment based on the fact that PTA himself cut the striking marketing materials, a move which may have stayed true to the film's tone, but also perhaps a financial detriment as well.

Weinstein also thought audiences “needed to be guided and eased into it,” and reflecting upon his close role in PTA's post-production process, pondered whether “being a devil's advocate instead of a cheerleader” would have brought the film better business.

“I seem to do better when I'm playing devil's advocate,” Weinstein concluded, but I do think the film will stand up and have a long life down the line.” We might stand to agree, but we'll see if “The Master” finds new eyes when its packed Blu-ray hits stores February 26th.

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24 Comments

  • clamsaid | February 6, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    I remember seeing commercials for this movie played during NFL games. The arty trailers that PTA came up with were not the only advertising used for this film. These trailers made it seem like a very mainstream type drama, hocking the big name actors like you would any mainstream movie. The reason this film failed to perform was bad reviews and bad word of mouth.

  • Alan B | February 2, 2013 1:41 AMReply

    Give me a break, Harves. This is a film in which Phoenix masturbates on a beach ... in the opening sequence. There is a ceiling on the film's success that no amount of nifty marketing could have breached.

  • jimmiescoffee | January 29, 2013 11:36 PMReply

    best movie of 2012. harvey fucked up.

  • Yod | January 29, 2013 9:37 PMReply

    The title of this article contains poor English. It should say "...., Wishes He Had Marketed It Differently".

  • Harrison | January 29, 2013 2:09 PMReply

    I had a hard seeing this film, only one theater in my entire area was showing this film.

  • Yod | January 29, 2013 9:35 PM

    Too much information

  • bob | January 29, 2013 12:46 PMReply

    I think in the long run, it will do fine. A bunch of films have done shit in the theaters and have found a much bigger audience on DVD or cable tv. In my opinion, "The Master" is the kind of movie that will be watched and rewatched for years to come. It's not the kind of film that will just make the quick buck back at the box office and then be forgot about a year later. It's more then that!

  • Helgi | January 29, 2013 12:18 PMReply

    Please consider the possibility that the so-called fan-base of PTA is only this big, meaning small. You cannot squeeze certain movies down the throat of the entire population. Different marketing does not change this simple fact.

  • JIMMY | January 29, 2013 12:17 PMReply

    I want the director's edition of The Master.It'd be a masterpiece.

  • JEFTCG | February 6, 2013 12:43 AM

    Wow, P-Dub has unusual conviction to his/her words. I would suggest P-Dub stops taking things so seriously. In the meantime, I will wait for the director's cut of "The Master" before I pay money to see it, I'm sure it's an eye-popper! Until then, the rest of of us lowbrow meatheads will be watching "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" on endless loop.

  • P-dub | January 29, 2013 12:39 PM

    PTA has been and always will be a final cut director. He's never released a single film that wasn't his cut. Even Hard Eight, contrary to popular belief, is his final cut of the film. The only battle he lost with that was he had to change the title from Sydney. The actual film is what he wanted. There is no director's cut of The Master and I don't know why you would assume there is one.

  • Brendan Thomas | January 29, 2013 11:37 AMReply

    The only way this movie would've been a financial success is if it had some Oscar buzz behind it. This could've been achieved by releasing it later and trickling it out slower. So if it had been released in late November or something it'd be fresher in the Academy's minds, and MAYBE they would've nominated it for more awards. Then going wide in January would've had a bigger impact. (not that I'm really complaining--seeing this in early September was an unbelievable treat)

    However, I'm not convinced this movie would ever have appealed much to the Academy, so perhaps it was destined to lose money regardless. I think Harvey's right that it'll have a long life down the road (think most of Kubrick's films, and their releases as opposed to their legacies). And I still think it's the best movie of the year.

  • Ray H | January 29, 2013 11:10 AMReply

    I agree with many of the other comments. It was released too early and lost most of its Oscar momentum and a more gradual release would have helped build buzz and word of mouth. But to be fair, it's a tough movie to sell to audiences. The trailers and advertising were among the best of the year.

  • James | January 29, 2013 10:46 AMReply

    Don't feel too bad for Megan Ellison Harv. Things could, as they say, be worse.

  • Sofia | January 29, 2013 10:40 AMReply

    I think releasing the film too early made it lose steem to the big awards (and let's face it, that's the only thing HW was after since even I knew it wasn't going to be a big crowd pleaser by watching the trailers...) and maybe they thought it would have the performance of There will be blood... It is a difficult (yet brilliant) film and should have been taken with parsimony until it would find its own crowd.

    But they're releasing worldwide now so I do think it's too soon to tell. During the three times I've seen in Brazil (it opened a week ago) the theatres were packed!

  • rodie | January 29, 2013 10:09 AMReply

    I wish Anderson had written it differently. Fantastic performances, cinematography, score and a genuinely interesting concept all wasted because of a sub par screenplay.

  • p-dub | January 29, 2013 12:43 PM

    "He did. Go and actually read the screenplay before putting your two cents in the jar."

    What does the screenplay matter if he didn't film the vast majority of what is in the screenplay? That script that is online is the very early draft that he was going to do with Jeremy Renner and Reese Witherspoon. After the production came apart, he went away and rewrote it into what it is now. He never filmed or intended to film a good deal of what's in that screenplay online. He talks a little about this in his interview with Cigarettes & Red Vines that came out yesterday.

  • spassky | January 29, 2013 11:07 AM

    He did. Go and actually read the screenplay before putting your two cents in the jar.

  • Ahmed | January 29, 2013 10:04 AMReply

    The marketing was fine. Going wide in the second was an awfully dumb decision.

  • Marko | January 29, 2013 11:15 AM

    Isn't that part of the marketing?

  • steven | January 29, 2013 9:57 AMReply

    It might've done better if they stuck with the October release date, too. It seemed lonely coming out in September when the rest of the big guns were out in the months following.

  • oogle monster | January 29, 2013 9:54 AMReply

    I don't think it had anything to do with PTA taking control of the trailer, etc. It has EVERYTHING to do with dumping the film into 700+ theaters after ONE week of limited release. Once again, take a look at the marketing strategy behind The Descendants... EVERY polarizing film could utilize that approach. The Descendants was a shit-filled movie but it had one hell of a marketing strategy. Platform release, Weinstein... PLATFORM RELEASE!

  • I seriously hope you guys ross douthat | January 29, 2013 11:37 AM

    You can only market a film so much. Even people who liked this film (me included) couldn't exactly say to people "yes go and see it". Loads of us ended up seeing we wanted to see it again, but not quite in the way that spreads good w.o.m. More like, "I need to see it again because I didn't get it". The Descendants, though dreadful, was an easier sell by far.

  • BEF | January 29, 2013 11:33 AM

    I think the lesson with The Master was that PTA has big time fans who will line up and see his movie the first weekend. And although the trailers were fantastic, they didn't need to convince the fans because they'd be there anyway (evidenced by the huge four screen opening), it'd have to convince the in between audience, and be released on a platform to build buzz not just hit people with a week of "masterpiece" talk and then dumping it on them and then removing it two weeks later... PTA's films need trailers like QT's have now: they look awful and weird in tone to me, focusing on jokes and explosions and action, but it gets people to go and I go because I know I'll get something more interesting from him than the trailer suggests.

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