It's a big day for Harvey Weinstein: Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds had its first public screening today at Cannes. The movie is shaping up as a make-or-break proposition for the Weinstein Co., which can't shake rumors that it's insolvent. The Wrap suggests that it's too late anyway.
The Weinsteins seem to have lost the rights to a sequel to Sin City owing to lack of capital, and the Wrap says rumors are swirling that the company doesn't have enough cash on hand to mount its slate of fall releases:
The company, say the rumormongers, has run out of capital. There is no cash to release fall movies like "Youth in Revolt." Weinstein has been serially seen in the company of billionaires, desperate to raise more funds to replenish the $1.2 billion he has raised — and apparently spent so far, without a blockbuster hit in sight.
Even Weinstein company executives acknowledge the rumors are rampant.
Still, the Weinsteins kept up a appearances, hosting an appopriately extravagant penthouse party and showing reels from Nine, the new musical from Chicago's Rob Marshall, that the Wrap says has "boosted the company's confidence."
But wasn't Inglourious Basterds supposed to boost the company's confidence? Isn't it a replay of Pulp Fiction, the cheap and unstoppable monster that conquered Canne in 1994 and made both Tarantino and the Weinsteins what they are today?
The movie played for the press overnight, and early reviews are mixed. The Hollywood Reporter says it "merely continues the string of disappointments" at this year's festival—it's boring, there's too much talking, and it's crazy because the heroes [Spoiler redacted because you thought we were jerks for mentioning what was in lots of the reviews] at the end, which didn't actually happen. The Daily Telegraph says it's "not so much inglorious as undistinguished." Other people liked it, but it sure doesn't sound like the eye-popping, buzz-generating fare that the cash-strapped company needs. Of course it's not the critics who will be paying at the box office, and Brad Pitt's presence on screen combined with Tarantino's fanbase could be a potent combination.
So maybe Inglourious Basterds will still be a massive hit and save the Weinstein Co.! Or not:
"This is a thumbs-up, thumbs-down year for the company," said a senior executive from another independent film company. If ‘Basterds' does well, it won't be a new lease on life, but it will be proof of concept. By New Year's, it will be ‘pop the champagne,' or else — the reverse."
Another rival film executive was more skeptical: "If ‘Inglourious' is a misfire, it'll hurt them ... If it's a hit, I don't know if it'll save them."