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."