A range of problems persist this morning for movie distributors large and small, with the Weinsteins predictably suffering the karmic retribution for Fraggle Rock: The Movie and another round of threats, invective and spin making the rounds elsewhere. As such, we're spending a little time this morning cleaning up our Imploding Film Industry Scorecard. Tell us if your results vary:
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY: Nikki Finke has spent the last two days trying to make something out of the Weinsteins reportedly falling two months behind on their residual payments to the Directors Guild of America. Gasp! Or something: An anonymous, "prominent Hollywood helmer" notified Finke that arbitration could start within "twenty days" if the matter isn't resolved. Harvey Weinstein himself followed up to say he knew nothing about it and that he was looking into the third party that handles the payments. The DGA itself acknowledged the delinquency Wednesday, and it didn't quite sound like the meltdown Finke was praying for:
"The DGA has had a long and productive working relationship with The Weinstein Company and its predecessor. It is sometimes the case, with various companies, that residuals payments are late. We are working directly with TWC to resolve this issue and see that our members receive prompt residuals payments."
So! Scandalous! Now Finke is actively soliciting dirt on other studios who've fallen behind: "I would like to shame them into paying up," she wrote Wednesday. But don't call her a gossip. SCORE: We doubt Harvey Weinstein has ever "honestly misunderstood" anything in his career, and we certainly don't doubt his financial woes. But if the DGA's happy, we're happy.
THINKFILM: Its corporate parent CapCo may have staved off its SAG woes on the set of Nailed, but blogger AJ Schnack issued a "breaking" (if vague) news alert Wednesday that the troubled distributor should brace itself for a flurry of non-payment lawsuits from numerous directions. Variety followed up today with specific litigation in the works and a spirited defense from CapCo boss David Bergstein, who's introducing a new European sales arm in Cannes as we speak:
"I come from a distressed asset background, not the film business," Bergstein said. "When you're dealing with any distressed asset, whether it's a single film or a company, it takes you the first year just to straighten out those issues. You can't have problems for five years and expect them to go away in five minutes."
Variety also notes Bergstein is staying in Cannes on a yacht — named Pegasus. SCORE: Just another schmogul. We love ThinkFilm, but it's not looking promising.
PICTUREHOUSE/WARNER INDEPENDENT: Still dead, but as observed by a deeply skeptical Patrick Goldstein, Warner Bros. president Alan Horn is still trafficking in primo denial about his studio's outlook for specialty film distribution:
"We haven't thrown in the towel. ... If there is a specialty movie that interests us or we find something we want to buy, we'll still do it. But marketing is marketing is marketing. I don't think you need a specialty label to market a specialty picture. The tools just aren't that different. Take Juno. In my view, its success wasn't a function of whether it was at Fox or Fox Searchlight. What made it a hit was the movie itself, not the marketing."
Wow. Like, WOW. We presume Horn is thinking of his own low-budget hit Michael Clayton, which succeeded despite a marketing effort worse than Crystal Pepsi's. Apply the same logic to WB's bomb Speed Racer, though, and he's kind of on to something. SCORE: We're with Goldstein — stick to the franchises, fellas.