A little over a week ago, it seemed like the Best Picture chances for The King’s Speech were dimming in the face of The Social Network’s unstoppable awards juggernaut, but now that Speech has pulled out unexpected wins at the PGA, DGA, and SAG ceremonies, the old-fashioned movie looks poised to triumph. Still, producer Harvey Weinstein is not going to leave anything to chance, and that’s why he cleverly debuted all of Speech’s new, post-nomination talking points in a new chat with Deadlne’s Mike Fleming. Though Weinstein appeared to be generous and vaguely conciliatory toward Oscar rival The Social Network, Vulture went through and parsed the interview to figure out what he really meant. Here are the five stealth narratives that Weinstein is trying to advance.
The Social Network is an expensive bully.
“The King’s Speech cost $14 million. How can we compete against movies that cost three times what we spent?” asks Weinstein, not even bothering to go bigger with his comparison by pointing out megabudget Best Picture nominees like Inception and Toy Story 3. Nope, the wealthy bully in this race is the $40 million-budgeted The Social Network, though Weinstein notes, “We haven’t even gone really wide yet. We will overtake The Social Network. The movie will outgross The Social Network.” So you see, The King’s Speech is a more profitable movie, too.
Don’t let critics tell you whom to vote for.
Remember that ubiquitous Peter Travers pull quote for The Social Network: “This film is better than the movie of the year. The Social Network also defines the decade”? Why, Harvey Weinstein is offended that you would even go there, Mr. Travers. “Putting tags on these movies, or finding the zeitgeist, is an insult to Academy members,” Weinstein said, effectively placing all the other critics’ groups who toppled for The Social Network on blast, too. “And I’m hearing the backlash and them say, ‘I’m sick of being told what is relevant or what will get ratings for the network special.’” Instead, “We just have to give Academy members permission to vote their heart, as opposed to what somebody else is voting.”
Instead, let movie stars tell you whom to vote for.
Watch out, Harvey, you just dropped a name: “John Travolta said it best — I don’t know if he’s allowing me to say this — but he said the reason I’m voting for The King’s Speech is because it inspired me and we need inspiration.” In fact, Weinstein has so many A-listers on retainer that he brags, “I once asked Warren Beatty to judge between Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan, because everyone said we were outspending them. He did something phenomenal, counted the ads. And, not by much, but Private Ryan did outspend us.” Really, just give Weinstein the Oscar for the visual of Beatty peering over his reading glasses at ads his assistant clipped from two months’ worth of Variety.
You’re too smart to listen to this appeasement thing.
In recent weeks, there’s been chatter that the titular king of The King’s Speech wasn’t quite as Nazi-averse as the movie portrays him to have been. “I think the Academy is so sophisticated that when those kinds of whispers happen, everybody yawns, and moves on,” says Weinstein. “It doesn’t mean anything. When we did The English Patient, they said the guy has Nazi sympathies. We weren’t making a documentary. We had a story that came from a novel … It’s clear to them that’s a publicist scraping the bottom of the barrel. And then it just goes away.”
At least he’s nicer than Scott Rudin.
Lest you think that Weinstein is still feuding with rival producer Scott Rudin, he would like to assure you that it’s not the case. “Scott and I have worked this whole thing out,” Weinstein joked. “I’ve gone to dinner with him three times this week … I said, ‘Scott, you win the critics’ awards. I’ll win the big one.’” But if you’re wondering which one is meaner, perhaps you recall a very specific acceptance speech Rudin gave for The Hours back in 2003? “Scott left me out of the Golden Globe acceptance speech that year, but I’m sure that was unintentional,” says Weinstein. “At least, I’d like to think so. I’m hoping. He told me it was. Maybe he got nervous.”
OSCAR: Harvey Weinstein Q&A [Deadline]