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Two or Three Things I Know About Harvey Weinstein

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 26, 2011 at 10:34AM

Harvey Weinstein amuses me. When I first met him in 1987 in Cannes, he was a hungry indie distributor on the rise hawking Lizzie Borden's Working Girls. I've tracked him and interviewed him and annoyed him over the years--and the video interview below reveals some of the things I know about him.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein amuses me. When I first met him in 1987 in Cannes, he was a hungry indie distributor on the rise hawking Lizzie Borden's Working Girls. I've tracked him and interviewed him and annoyed him over the years--and the video interview below reveals some of the things I know about him.

1. He likes to live in the past.
That's because he has so many past triumphs to dine on--from Scary Movie, Inglourious Basterds and The King's Speech's worldwide grosses, to having trained half the execs in Hollywood. "The problem with our business is you have to have people who love movies in the business," he says. Ideally, yes.

2. But he knows he has to adjust to the present.
"We have to build a model beyond Oscar," he says. Why is he so obsessed with it? "It gets an audience to see a movie."

3. He's a pitchman.
He can't help himself--he's promoting Submarine, Sarah's Key and Our Idiot Brother as summer counter-programming (full Weinstein Co. slate here). The Wrap's Sharon Waxman can barely get a word in edgewise.

4. He's still gung-ho about indies.
There's still a market, he says. "It's just a question of the right movie. Sometimes there's too much of a good thing." The market can sustain a sensibility like True Grit, he points out. And having five indie distribs is better than twenty.

5. He's looking at the digital world, but his heart belongs to theaters.
VOD is good because it winnows out the field, he says, leaving more room--screens, newspaper, review, ad and editorial space--for more robust theatrical entries. Folks have an insatiable appetite for VOD, and he likes the idea of cable ads sending viewers out to theaters to watch the movies BEFORE they hit cable. (That doesn't work for premiere VOD releases ahead of theatrical.) But Weinstein doesn't want Direct TV or collapsing windows to hurt theaters. "If it weakens exhibition, that's a mistake."

This article is related to: Independents, Video, Exhibition, Weinsteins


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.