By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 24, 2010 at 4:25AM
Signaling that they are still in the acquisition game, The Weinstein Co. closed its pick-up of U.S. rights to writer-director John Wells' directorial debut The Company Men, a timely film about corporate downsizing starring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones. The movie played well at Sundance (trailer on jump).
CAA set up financing for the film (IM Global sold some international territories before Sundance) and closed the deal with TWC, which plans to release the film in theaters "later this year" (a tad vague because TWC is still working out talent schedules), with a guaranteed seven-figure P & A commitment. TWC also acquired Sundance doc The Pat Tillman Story (August 20) and Blue Valentine (December 31), starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. But another Gosling project acquired by TWC, All Good Things, long on the shelf due to releasing issues, was bought back by director Andrew Jarecki, who is seeking another distributor. (TWC retained the film's international and basic cable television rights.)
Under pressure from investors, the Weinstein Co. has pared back to a leaner meaner version of its former self--more like the indie distributor it was in the first place, with a focus on its core business. 2010 will tell the tale. While the Weinstein brothers were spared disaster by taking on financial partners for Nine, they also shared the upside on Inglourious Basterds with Universal, which made out handsomely on the foreign side. After homevideo distrib Genius shuttered, TWC recently made a deal with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group to release their DVDs through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Weinstein Co. has plenty of films to bring to market, including the long-delayed Shanghai, starring John Cusack (still undated due to a ban in China--the company plans to open in Asia first), and Brit John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy (October 18), which they pushed back from 2009 to 2010 release; the fest vet will be strictly a small-scale play.
As always the Weinsteins tend to go after two kinds of movies: commercial and Oscar-bound. Clearly, with a December 31 release date, Blue Valentine is the latter, and I've added Gosling and Michelle Williams to my new 2010 Oscar predicts chart, along with Tom Hooper's The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth as a stuttering King George VI (November 26).
TWC's bread-and-butter will continue to be such Bob Weinstein genre films as Alexandre Aja's sanguine Piranha 3D (August 27) and in-the-works 2011 sequels such as Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids 4 and Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven's Scream 4. The Weinsteins will have to wait until 2014 for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 3, which he always planned to deliver ten years after Vol. 2. He will presumably gear up to do something else in the meantime.
The Playlist has assembled a handy Weinstein Co. release schedule--which could change at any time.