Among the surprises at yesterday morning’s Golden Globes nominations were the combined eight nods for the Weinstein Company’s The Reader and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, vindication, of sorts, for the recently embattled studio. So, when we were offered a brief phone interview with Harvey Weinstein himself last night, it was hard for us to say no. Harvey talked to Vulture about Vicky’s Best Picture odds and the Weinstein Company’s new blog-outreach program.
Hey Harvey. How are you?
I’m feeling pretty good today, I’ll tell you that much.
I can imagine. Congratulations on your strong showing this morning. What were you doing when you found out?
I was on the set of Nine in London, making a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, and Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, and Judi Dench. It was very fun to be clapped by your cast and Rob Marshall, the director, so the whole, you know, everybody broke into spontaneous applause when we got Best Comedy and Best Drama.
For some people, The Reader’s success was a surprise. Everybody expected Kate Winslet to be nominated for Supporting Actress, but maybe not Stephen Daldry for Director and the film for Best Picture. Why do you think it did so well?
You know the New York Times was not a great review, but the L.A. Times was solid, Time magazine was great, Newsweek was great, Rex Reed was great, Roger Ebert was great … Every one of the people I just said called it one of the best pictures of the year. I think the bloggers have a tendency to, you know, slant the news and say okay it got a bad review in the New York Times, and as a result, whatever, are they forgetting that it got 25, you know, there are 25 people so far who called it one of the best pictures of the year, who are important critics? And then on top of that, two days before, it was nominated for a Broadcast Critics Award, which is judged by 250 broadcast critics across the United States. So that wasn’t a surprise to me. It’s very moving, it’s a very emotional film. I was never in doubt, because I knew the movie was strong, and I knew that it was just a bunch of silly bloggers looking to make a story out of nothing.
It’s funny you mention that, because we had an interview with Daldry on Wednesday, and now we’re talking to you. For a movie like Reader, with such a notorious prehistory, Websites don’t usually get this much access. Is blog outreach a new Oscar strategy this year?
I don’t think I’ve done that many blogs, but obviously that’s an important factor in our industry, and it’s better to have good stories than negative ones. So I think an outreach has to include it, and I try to be open and we’ll try to be in the future.
For Vicky Cristina Barcelona, what are your Oscar hopes, besides Penélope Cruz for Supporting Actress?
Listen, that could be a factor in Best Picture. I mean, certainly I think we’ve got to concentrate like hell on the Golden Globe, you know, we’ve got to try to win that thing. Everybody across the board seemed to love that movie. I can tell you Rebecca Hall was a surprise. I think the movie showed strength. We thought it might have a good chance. That was a total lock. We knew the movie would get in because of the reaction, they loved the movie, and also the critics were so strong on it. Now all of a sudden, people are telling me, “Hey maybe you oughta go for the double header.” With Vicky coming in as a sleeper, and just push The Reader.
Is Inglourious Basterds still on target for a Cannes Film Festival premiere?
We are in day 50 of shooting, and it’s gonna go right through next Saturday, I think. And then we’ve got three more weeks of January, so yeah, that’s the idea.
Last August on Vulture we made an offer to any studio that optioned Evan Kuhlman’s graphic novel, Wolfboy, that we would not make fun of them for a period of six months. The Weinstein Company did, and we kept our promise. Would you possibly be able to give me a status update on the project? If you can tell us on the phone that it’s been green-lit, we can give you another six months of positive coverage.
Well, I can tell you that Chris [Parker] wrote an incredible script. It’s his third draft, and it’s a keeper. We love it, Irwin Winkler loves it, and I’m sure that that movie will get made. It’s a beautiful script. Six months, hey, I love that.