Times continue to be tough for Harvey Weinstein and his Weinstein Company. Already suffering shrinkage and hobbling away from the shoulda-been-as-big-as-Superbad bust Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the company is now forced to watch as its big Oscar-hope flick The Reader fails to resonate with critics. Weinstein, who has been touting the holocaust tale as the film that would save his company, had waged a bitter war with producer Scott Rudin to get it into theaters in time for eligibility. Big things were hinged and waged on this, and the returns look to be diminishing.
The estimable New York Times didn't like it, nor did the fussy New Yorker. More importantly though, the movie has been shut out of most of the early critics' association awards. There's still hope that tomorrow's Golden Globe nominations announcement will be kind to the Stephen Daldry-directed chamber piece, but right now that seems unlikely.
The Reader was always an awards longshot. But big attention-getting, laudatory awards season circle jerks have long been the butter (if not the bread, too) of the Weinstein business plan. Without such a fervor this all-important year, they could be going pretty hungry in 2009.