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December 29, 2005

WEINSTEINS DUMP THE PROMISE

Weinstein Co. dumps THE PROMISEIt's a little like a John Hughes movie gone wrong. The ugly duckling gets herself all pretty - she takes her nose out of her schoolwork, lets down her hair, takes off her glasses, puts on some make-up, maybe even gets a little cosmetic surgery - and comes down the stairs in a prom dress like a vision in taffeta. The jock stares open-mouthed, gulps and then the two ride off to the prom to be crowned Homecoming King and Queen.

Now imagine she's coming down the stairs, the jock stares open-mouthed, gulps, and says, "You know what, I think I'm going to the prom with Heather VonEaterupper anyways. See ya."

That's what's happened with Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE and the Weinstein Company. After cutting the movie by about 20 minutes, paying for an intro written by Anthony Minghella, and changing the title to MASTER OF THE CRIMSON ARMOR, the Weinsteins have dumped THE PROMISE and the North American, Australian and UK rights have reverted back to Moonstone Entertainment and the China Film Group.

The story according to Variety is that Moonstone and CFG wanted the Weinsteins to push THE PROMISE for a bunch of Oscar categories, and TWC was busy pushing those two big hits TRANSAMERICA (what?) and MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS (huh?) instead, so they amicably parted ways. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Moonstone and CFG wanted the Weinsteins to give the movie a wide release (2000 + screens) a la HERO, whereas the Weinsteins wanted a "limited release" so they have amicably parted ways.

I smell a rat. The Weinsteins have never amicably parted ways with anyone, especially not someone whose movie they have ruined. Ruined? Yep - THE PROMISE was red hot at Cannes earlier this year, but it decided to walk down the aisle with the Weinsteins. One of the things it was holding out as a deal sweetner was that the movie was doing a virtually simultaneous global release on Dec. 16. Now the movie has come out in China and Hong Kong, DVDs will be sure to follow in short order, it's been panned by critics in both countries, and is tagged as a stinker that the Weinsteins dumped.

Also, aren't things like release patterns and Oscar campaigns one of those things that get worked out in distribution deals? So either the deal was a loosely worded general agreement, or someone welched.

So when Harvey Weinstein says, "We have thoroughly enjoyed working together for the past seven months," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. "We have tremendous respect for Chen Kaige, Etchie Stroh and (producer) Han Sanping and are all rooting for them as they go forward releasing this film."

I hear, "Lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. "Lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie (producer) lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie releasing this film."

December 29, 2005 at 09:33 AM in News | Permalink

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