The three-year distribution match made in the mildly optimistic spirit of convenience between MGM and the Weinstein Company was set to expire at the end of this year, but the Lion isn't waiting around to box up the furniture. A day after Kevin Smith's associates blogged that MGM had yanked its logo from the marketing materials for Zack and Miri Make a Porno — one of the few remaining titles it planned to distribute for the Weinsteins — new reports have surfaced saying that MGM has dumped everything but the Sam Jackson/Bernie Mac effort Soul Men back on Harvey's lap. And yes, that includes The Reader, which Harvey wants for Dec. 12 despite his mortal mogul Scott Rudin's insistence otherwise. Gasp! What now?It's fairly speculative for now, with MGM reportedly acknowledging the break-up to The Business Sheet and TWC staffers cranking the Muzak lest they hear the press ringing their phone ringing off the hook. (Or, more officially, Weinstein reps were not available for comment.) What we do know is that Harvey isn't capitalized enough to market and distribute Porno, The Reader and any of the five films in between — The Road, Killshot (a recent shelf-rescue capitalizing on star Mickey Rourke's Wrestler buzz), Fanboys, Crossing Over and Shanghai — without some outside help. And that's not counting the putative Oscar campaigns planned for at least The Road and The Reader, the latter of which film's embattled '08 release (it's not even finished, for Christ's sake) is looking decreasingly likely by the day. We're also tempted to wonder what kind of hand Rudin might have had in pulling MGM's plug, but let's face it: He's too busy for sabotage, and the fraught MGM/TWC relationship didn't need him to push it over the cliff when Harry Sloan and Harvey were disintegrating just fine by themselves. Moreover, MGM has its own December delivery to worry about with UA's bumped-up Valkyrie — even more potential awards-season fodder (or so it hopes) that didn't need competition from Kate Winslet's own WWII Nazi drama. And its not like these were blockbusters; MGM did all right collecting its cut from joint releases like the $70 million sleeper 1408, but what does it lose hacking off The Road or Zack and Miri — an R-rated comedy with stick figures on the poster — at the knees? Answers are forthcoming, believe us. For know, all we really know for sure is that this totally screws up our bold prediction for Harvey's return to supremacy.
- MGM Showing First Signs Of Weinstein Breakup [The Business Sheet]