By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 2, 2011 at 6:46AM
As if The Weinstein Co. didn't have enough going on right now--with a plethora of releases hitting theaters inside the crowded awards season corridor, including The Iron Lady, Coriolanus, W.E., The Artist and My Week with Marilyn --the company is rereleasing summer movie Sarah's Key, clearly hoping for some awards attention.
It's been a while since the Weinsteins released Oscar-winner The King's Speech ($138 million domestic). TWC has released some underwhelming films this year, including that $30-million animated flop Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil ($10 million), plus pick-ups The Company Men ($4.4 million), Miral ($337,000), Submarine ($467,000), Our Idiot Brother ($24.7 million), Apollo 18 ($17 million), I Don't Know How She Does It ($9.6 million) and Dirty Girl ($51,431).
So why expend more energy and money on putting World War II drama Sarah's Key ($7.1 million) into 300 stateside screens on November 4? TWC distribution chief Erik Lomis cites the film's emotional impact and historic importance as a reason to try and unlock more audiences: "We know there’s an even bigger audience for the movie, and that’s why we’re re-releasing it now, in a wider pattern, and just in time for awards consideration.”
Harvey Weinstein has a good nose for what Golden Globe and Oscar voters will respond to, and that often includes holocaust dramas. (TWC proclaims in their release that "Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, calls Sarah's Key 'One of the most important movies of the year.'")
But I question the math here. Is the cost of a rerelease worth the potential added value to the movie's ancillary performance? (The DVD comes out November 22.) While critical reaction was solid (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), this sort of middlebrow film is unlikely to wind up on year-end ten best lists.
The other possibility is that Weinstein is doing a favor for friends, either the filmmakers or the lead actress, Kristin Scott Thomas, hoping to use her in future projects. She is always a possibility for the Oscar zone. This is presumably why Weinstein is pushing Madonna's W.E. so hard, in the face of near-universal rejection by critics at various festivals (its tomatometer ranking is 33 %). He must believe that the the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will have stars in their eyes.
Based on the Tatiana de Rosnay best-seller Sarah's Key, which was published in 40 countries, the film tells the story of an American journalist living in Paris (Scott Thomas), who researches an article about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in 1942 in France and finds connections to her own family. The novel was on the New York Times Bestseller List for 138 weeks, pushed by the movie over the summer.
Sarah's Key is directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner and based on the novel "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay. Written by Serge Joncour and Gilles Paquet-Brenner, the film stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frédéric Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Dominique Frot, Gisèle Casadesus, Aidan Quinn and Natasha Mashkevich.