Contrary to a UK tabloid article that pronounced the Madonna-directed W.E. a mess after a test screening that left Harvey Weinstein “thunderous and sour,” The Weinstein Company has dated Madonna’s directorial debut for Dec. 9. That means that it will be one of the pictures Weinstein pushes during Oscar season. Weinstein, who made Truth or Dare with Madonna, is bullish on the picture, I’m told. There was certainly a test screening. Weinstein was hardly demonstrative, especially since the woman sitting next to him incognito in black hat and sunglasses was Madonna. They’ve been working on the movie for some time, together. We’ll see how it all comes out. Just as intriguing is how Weinstein is going to handle the Oscar volume this year. Potentially, he’s got Oscar contenders in the black-and-white silent film The Artist that he bought right before the Cannes Film Festival, before the film became a rave on the Croisette; he’s got Iron Lady, with Meryl Streep playing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, also bought at Cannes; and the John Hillcoat-directed The Wettest County in the World, which is expected to be platformed for Oscar and released in early 2012. They will push Michelle Williams for her work as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, and there are also talks about The Weinstein Company acquiring This Must Be The Place, the Paolo Sorrentino-directed drama that would put star Sean Penn in the Oscar hunt. All those pictures were bought in Cannes. Here’s the W.E. announcement:
New York, NY, June 29, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that it will release Madonna’s “W.E.” on December 9, 2011 in New York and Los Angeles. The film will expand to additional markets in December, with wide release anticipated by mid-January. Madonna’s narrative feature directorial debut, W.E. is co-written by Madonna and Alek Keshishian, produced by Madonna and Kris Thykier and executive produced by Scott Franklin (BLACK SWAN). It stars Abbie Cornish (LIMITLESS), Andrea Riseborough (NEVER LET ME GO), James D’Arcy (MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD), Oscar Isaac (DRIVE), Natalie Dormer (“The Tudors”), Richard Coyle (PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME), James Fox (SHERLOCK HOLMES) and Laurence Fox (“Inspector Lewis”). The announcement was made by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and TWC President of Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment Erik Lomis.
“Madonna beautifully interweaves past and present in W.E. It’s a very smart film, and a stunning feature directorial debut,” said Weinstein. “I’m incredibly excited about this movie and I wanted to give it a prominent release date.”
Madonna is represented by CAA and managed by Untitled Entertainment.
W.E. looks at the fabled romance between American Wallis Simpson and Britain’s King Edward VIII, who famously gave up the throne to marry the woman he loved. More than six decades later, their story enthralls a young woman named Wally Winthrop, who thinks she sees in their devotion a stark contrast to her own unhappy marriage – and an example to follow as she searches for the meaning of true love. The cast features Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, James D’Arcy and Oscar Isaac.