By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 16, 2014 at 3:32PM
"Harvey was off his game," observed one attendee at the latest Cannes presentation from The Weinstein Co. It's a Cannes tradition to unveil the latest movies that weren't ready for Cannes at the Majestic. One TWC upcoming release was conspicuously missing: Olivier Dahan's "Grace of Monaco," starring Nicole Kidman, which was scheduled as the opening night film without Harvey's blessing.
Weinstein, who closed a deal to release the movie right before Cannes at a reduced fee, talked to reporters after the event at the Majestic Hotel, saying that he and Dahan will work together on a new cut--a release date is not yet set--and that he couldn't have asked for more publicity on the movie. He made a point that the writer-producer Arash Amel and star Kidman deserved credit for their hard work. And he feels strongly that there's a way to cut the movie--he said he hasn't seen the Cannes cut, as he was in Jordan with his wife Georgina Chapman visiting a refugee camp that may become fodder for a documentary--that will placate the Monaco's royal family, the Grimaldis, who right now are not pleased. Weinstein said he had nothing to do with putting together the Quentin Tarantino Cannes closing night tribute to Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars," but said it would be in 35 mm.
But on to the new slate. The notable news here is that while the footage reveals some commercial potential, especially Dimension's long-awaited "Sin City" sequel "A Dame to Kill For," starring a hot ensemble led by Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba and Joseph Gordon-Levitt under the direction of Robert Rodriguez--Green exited the Majestic before her scheduled appearance--and Christmas release "Paddington," a live-action/animation hybrid based on the children's classic, it looks like Harvey Weinstein may be able to relax during Oscar season.
The other movie at Cannes is Saturday Un Certain Regard entry "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby," which director Ned Benson has, since showing the work-in-progress in Toronto, edited into one film for Cannes, hanging on to the he said/she said structure of the original, with two POVs on a romance gone wrong: Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy are the young lovers, with William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert as her parents and Ciaran Hinds as his father. Benson has committed to writing and possibly directing another TWC film.
COO David Glasser introduced Weinstein partners Worldview, Ron Burkle, Miramax and future Chinese cinema partner Dalian Wanda Group, represented by former Academy president Hawk Koch, who announced ex-Film Society of Lincoln Center executive director Rose Kuo as the new CEO of the Qingdao International Film Festival, designed to form a "bridge between western and eastern cultures," said Koch. Wanda has also hired ex-Turner Broadcasting exec Stephen Mensch as CEO of its Oriental Movie Industrial Park in Qingdao, "expected to be on of the biggest in the world," said Koch. Both are set to launch in 2017. "Expect many co-productions with the Weinstein Co. soon," promised Koch.
Glasser intro'ed Harvey Weinstein, who brought up Naomi Watts, who plays a Russian woman of the night in the upcoming Bill Murray/Melissa McCarthy comedy "St. Vincent de Van Nuys," which looks like a broader version of Clint Eastwood's "Grand Torino," and Ryan Reynolds, who stars in Simon Curtis's true story "Woman in Gold," about Jewish WWII survivor Maria Altmann's rescue of a Gustav Klimt painting stolen during the war. "I was born to play a Jewish restitution lawyer," said Reynolds of the film which starts filming this month with Daniel Bruhl as his opponent and Helen Mirren as Altmann.
Also in the production stage, filming now, is Antoine Fuqua's promising fighter flick "Southpaw" starring Jake Gyllenhaal in awesome physical condition.
Of the movies coming up in the near term for TWC, there are two more World War II period dramas: "The Imitation Game" stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, working to break codes with Matthew Goode and Keira Knightley, which looks like a smaller release, and Weinstein regular Michelle Williams stars opposite Matthias Schoenaerts as a friendly Nazi in World War II heart-tugger "Suite Francaise," based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky, which shows more gravitas. Kristin Scott-Thomas and Sam Riley also star.
Knightley also appears in John Carney's retitled "Begin Again," which already played in Toronto as "Can a Song Save Your Life" and closed Tribeca; the movie looks like a fun romance between a fired record executive (Mark Ruffalo) and his singer discovery, Adam Levine's jilted lover Keira Knightley. Hailee Steinfeld is his daughter. But it's unlikely Oscar material.
Neither is Philip Noyce's "The Giver," slated for an August 15 release, which is based on Lois Lowry's bestselling young adult novel and looks too-similar to another dystopian thriller, "Divergent." This time, long-haired Meryl Streep is in the Kate Winslet Fascist leader role and Jeff Bridges plays an older wise man much like the one he played in "Tron Legacy." Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes co-star.
The most likely Oscar contender if it comes out FABULOUS is Justin Kurzel's Shakespeare drama "Macbeth" starring Michael Fassbender in the title role as the future King of Scotland, but the black-and-white trailer did not show much scale or scope. Marion Cotillard plays Lady Macbeth.
Tim Burton's "Big Eyes," developed by indie producer Lynette Howell and written by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, shows potential but this early trailer was hard to judge. Based on a true story, it shows sexist credit grabber Christoph Waltz refusing to admit that his wife (Amy Adams) created the signature "Keane" paintings. This looks like a return to idiosyncratic indie form for Burton, and never count out Waltz and Adams, but again, this needs to be seen in full to be appreciated.