May 03, 2006


The heated war of words between CITY OF GOLDEN ARMOR producer Zhang Weiping and an unnamed producer of Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE keeps heating up. Welcome to round two.

The PROMISE producer intially said that Zhang Weiping's comments about how THE PROMISE had ruined the chances of other Chinese movies was a publicity stunt. But in his official statement he gave the following sequence of events for why the Weinsteins dumped THE PROMISE. He claims that the Weinsteins wanted to give THE PROMISE a release similar to CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. But the Chinese production company felt that THE PROMISE is very different from CT, HD and want to give it a very different kind of release and the two amicably parted ways.

Zhang Weiping responded by saying that he had met Harvey Weinstein who personally told him that he and Chen Kaige had been editing THE PROMISE for four weeks and they still couldn't agree on a version Harvey liked so even though he knew his company would lose $900,000 if they dumped it, Harvey dumped it. Zhang adds that Zhang Yimou and Jet Li would both back up his version and that if he's so desperate for publicity why is Steven Spielberg visiting his set?

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who keeps sending in reports from the front)

May 3, 2006 at 09:10 AM in News | Permalink


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here's the thing Grady: WHY WERE THE WEINSTEINS EDITING A FILM -- NO MATTER HOW BAD THEY THOUGHT IT WAS -- FROM A DIRECTOR OF THE CALIBER OF CHEN KAIGE? Did Hollywood re-edit Truffaut for American tastes? Christ. You can't praise Chinese cinema and then butcher it. *That* is the central arrogance on display. Yeah, the Promise sucked. That's not the point. Directors get final say -- NOT THE DISTRIBUTORS! WTF?

Posted by: glenn | May 3, 2006 10:21:49 AM

"Yeah, the Promise sucked."

I think you answered your own question.

Beyond that, you're missing the actual process here. Weinstein bought the picture, the Chinese producers accepted the money, with conditions. One of those conditions was that they (ie. the Chinese filmmakers) were to do a edit for the U.S. The two parties couldn't come to an agreement on that edit, so Weinstein dropped the movie. Note that no one forced the Chinese producers to take the money. If they didn't like the conditions, they were free to say "no." Simple as that.

Posted by: Scott | May 3, 2006 11:48:22 AM

For those of you who don't know, I heard Harvey Weinstein has an editing suite in his office, and has been an "editor" for some time now. The Promise was a joke, that's why the "Steamed Bun" was so popular, and Harvey paid almost a million to have it go away. Zhang Weiping was right about how "The Promise" could drag his film down the gutter, after all, people are already getting tired of the wuxia epic genre from China. Chen Kaige should lick his wounds, stop crying like a baby, and make a better movie, like "Steamed Bun".

Posted by: so funny | May 3, 2006 7:15:47 PM

well the problem is even if the Promise deserved to be edited, it is not the first time the Weinsteins decide to edit something -- as if Americans are just too dumb and we need them to make something palatable for us. I'm sick of this crap. I grew up on in the days when foreign films were granted some respect as well as foreign directors. I'm sick of stuff being rescored, retitled, reedited, redubbed, etc. I don't see it happening to many French films -- they just get remade. It smacks of racism and contempt for the intended audience. The point is not the quality of the Promise -- hey, lots of American movies suck and if the Chinese edited them for their audience, the US companies would be in an uproar.

Posted by: glenn | May 4, 2006 6:49:02 AM

The Weinsteins started by mashing together two docs to make THE POLICEMAN'S OTHER BALL and have only become bolder and more confident in their ability to 'make things better' over the years. Most studio people screw with scripts until they are bled clean of any spark of originality, whilst the Weinsteins are only too happy to wade in and 'fix' films that have already been completed.

Instead of a CTHD-like release (classic platform, NY/LA, slow but steady expansions as the initial returns supported), THE PROMISE will go out on about 200 screens in the US from a company (Warner Independent) that just lost its head (Mark Gill) this week.

For all its dunderheaded silliness, THE PROMISE looks glorious on the big screen. Well, except for that thundering herd...

Posted by: Peter Martin | May 4, 2006 8:33:23 AM

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