All the drama affecting David O. Russell's new film Nailed settled down a bit Monday when production resumed on the South Carolina set. But while the producers squared away their money issues with SAG, which shut shooting down last Friday, our own suspicions about precariously-budgeted distributor ThinkFilm got another look from Variety yesterday afternoon:
ThinkFilm is known to owe substantial amounts to media outlets, among others. Sources say the company was going to announce an acquisition from Senator Entertainment this week but then canceled its press meetings. ...
Though the company saw an $18 million worldwide gross from Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, further problems emerged Thursday when ThinkFilm execs suddenly discovered there was no money for Friday newspaper ads for Then She Found Me. The following day, SAG pulled the plug on Nailed, telling members not to work due to the lack of required funds in accounts designated to pay the film's actors.
Yeah, that's a bit of a problem. As we noted Monday, all signs point to David Bergstein, the schmogul whose Capitol Films bought Think in 2006: Nikki Finke has another round of films affected by Capitol's cash drought, and Variety also notes squabbles with filmmaker Alex Gibney, who reportedly "threatened to take ThinkFilm into bankruptcy after the company failed to pay him his fees — including his Oscar bonus" after his Taxi to the Dark Side won this year's Best Documentary award. We've heard similar stories from the aftermaths of indies from Half Nelson to Off the Black to Murderball.
Additionally, around this time last month, we heard ThinkFilm was temporarily banned from holding press screenings at Chicago's Lake Street Screening Room when it fell five months behind on rental fees. (It has more debts in New York, where Think president Mark Urman recently complained to The Hollywood Reporter in an unrelated story,"It costs $700 to $800 to schedule a screening for one critic, and sometimes they don't make it.")
The Capitol deal was supposed to free ThinkFilm to acquire and push films more aggressively in the congested indie marketplace; we've seen hints and flashes, but the inconsistency can't be helping as they hit the market at Cannes. But at least Russell is back to work! A carefully timed, videotaped meltdown between him and Jake Gyllenhaal could be all Bergstein and Co. need to set the ship right.
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