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Weinstein Company Braintrust On How Tom Sherak’s Mentorship Launched Miramax

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 4:18pm PST
Mike Fleming

FWho knew that Tom Sherak touched this many people? Here is a note that was penned by Harvey Weinstein for Deadline, describing what the former Fox exec and Academy president meant to him, his brother Bob Weinstein, and COO David Glasser and distribution chief Erik Lomis. Weinstein was moved to write in reaction to Bill Mechanic’s words.

Related:
Tom Sherak: Remembering A True Hollywood Star
Tom Sherak: “It’s About Love”

“Tommy We Hardly Knew Ye:

When I was a boy I read a beautiful memoir called Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye about JFK which his long term buddy Kenneth O’Donnell wrote. This is the best way to describe my, my brother, Erik Lomis and David Glasser’s feelings about a man named Tom Sherak. The first time Bob and I met Tom was over 30 years ago – we were just two rock promoters born in New York City hating every minute of the Rock n Roll existence. Fancying ourselves as movie producers, we came up with the novel idea of booking two movies, one called White Rock The Olympic Experience and the other, The Genesis Concert Movie and coming up with a marketing handle called Sensasia, the movie experience. Who the hell were we kidding and how the hell were we going to get theaters to play these two movies we put together and decided we would start distributing with no distributing background whatsoever? So we tried it out in our backyard and lo and behold it worked but there was an entire country to play and at that time the general cinema ruled the waves and ocean and the man in charge of booking theatres in general cinema was a warmhearted ebullient soul named Tom Sherak. He must have looked at us with complete and utter bafflement- just two shaggy guys with afros. We looked like we got off the Grateful Dead road bus and there we were with our dream of conquering the US distribution system with two 45 minute movies. Theater by theater, state by state, city by city, Tom Sherak took these 2 knuckle heads and helped them form a company called Miramax. That’s how it started: rock n’ roll movies with Sherak renting us theaters, booking us theaters, and guiding us. We knew nothing except we had an instinct and a flair for promotion and the movies weren’t half bad. Through the course of our lives he would always be there whether he was mentoring or mediating and trust me, David and Erik would testify we needed a mediator or two, but more importantly a mentor. Read More »

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PGA Win: Is ‘Argo’ Now Oscar Frontrunner?

Pete Hammond

It’s starting to get serious. This wild ride of an awards season may not be predictable, according to conventional wisdom. But in the end the winner of the Producer Guild’s Best Picture award Saturday night was completely predictable in my opinion. After all, Warner Bros’ Argo features a key role for a Hollywood movie producer who rises to the occasion and helps make a difference in the world, winning the hearts and minds of a group of producers. Imagine that. This is the first guild to weigh in so we have a tentative frontrunner in Argo now for the Academy Awards’ Best Picture. Had producer/director/star Ben Affleck not been snubbed for a Best Director Oscar, the word “tentative” wouldn’t even be used. When I talked to Affleck  in the Beverly Hilton ballroom moments after his picture won, he still seemed to be reeling from the roller coaster ride he’s been on, but clearly happy. (Co-producer Grant Heslov suggested they should call their fellow producer George Clooney in Berlin and tell him the good news.) “When I didn’t get the Best Director nomination after everybody told me I would, I was depressed. But then that same day I won at Critics Choice which was really torturous because everyone kept asking me all night how I felt,” Affleck told me. “Then we win at the Globes.” Argo was also named the year’s Best Picture at the Critics … Read More »

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Harvey & Bob Weinstein To Receive Producers Guild Milestone Award

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 23, 2012) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that legendary filmmakers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, co-founders and Co-Chairmen of The Weinstein Company, will be honored with the 2013 Milestone Award. The award will be presented to the Weinsteins at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The Milestone Award is the Guild’s highest honor recognizing an individual or team who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry. In the past, the Producers Guild has paid tribute to such industry leaders as Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, James Cameron, Ron Meyer and last year’s 2012 recipient Leslie Moonves, among others.

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Shawn Christensen To Write ‘The Man From Nowhere’ Redo For Dimension Films

By | Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 11:25am PST

The Man From Nowhere Dimension Films UPDATE, 4:33 PM : Dimension Films acquired the rights for The Man From Nowhere from CJ Entertainment. The deal was negotiated by Ted Kim for CJ Entertainment; Andrew Kramer, President of Business and Legal Affairs and Adrian Lopez, VP of Business and Legal for Dimension Films. Keith Levine, VP of Production and Development found the project and will oversee with Matthew Signer, SVP of Production and Creative Affairs.

11:25 AM, EXCLUSIVE: Bob Weinstein and SVP Matthew Signer acquired rights to the South Korean action thriller The Man From Nowhere this year and will supervise development of an English-language remake. Weinstein personally sought out Shawn Christensen after reading the spec draft of the writer’s Abduction, which Lionsgate bought last year after a bidding war. Directed by Lee Jeong-beom, the original Nowhere follows a quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past who takes on a drug- and organ-trafficking ring to save the child who is his only friend. The film opened No. 1 at the Korean box office in August 2010 and held the top spot for five weeks in a row, becoming that year’s highest-grossing Korean film.

Christensen recently won the International Audience Award for Curfew, which he wrote, directed and starred in, at the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival in France, one of the world’s most important short film events. Lionsgate will soon release Enter Nowhere, which he co-wrote with Jason Dolan. He previously … Read More »

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Sundance: Weinsteins And Ben Silverman Plan Giants-49ers Game Bash For A-Listers

By | Saturday January 21, 2012 @ 1:28pm PST
Mike Fleming

Back by popular demand, Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Ben Silverman will be hosting a big A-list party at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley tomorrow to watch the NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. I’m told Weinstein didn’t plan to stage a party, like he and Silverman did last year at the same place when his beloved New York Jets played. But they decided to do it at the last minute. Let’s hope the outcome is different than last year, when the Jets were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Robert Katz Leaving Dimension Films Prexy Post

By | Tuesday November 1, 2011 @ 3:31pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Katz is about to begin discussions to exit as president of Dimension Films, a job that is proving tough to fill for the long term. Katz, a well regarded exec who had been Film Department’s president of production and before that exec veep at Yari Film Group, took the job in late July following Brad Luff’s exit after less than a year. I’m told that the exit is fairly amicable and that it came down to a difference in vision between Katz and his boss, Dimension head Bob Weinstein, who has always been a challenging guy to work for. I’m not sure that Katz really had an opportunity to get on track in such a short time, but clearly the chemistry wasn’t right. Dimension last released Apollo 18, the $5 million budget “found footage” genre thriller that grossed $17.6 million domestic.

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42West Partner And Oscar Strategist Cynthia Swartz Leaving To Start Own PR Firm

By | Wednesday August 10, 2011 @ 11:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Cynthia Swartz, who became a partner at PR powerhouse 42West six months after Leslee Dart exited PMK to form her own company in late 2004, is negotiating her exit. Swartz, who spent 13 years working for Harvey and Bob Weinstein at Miramax before joining 42West in May 2005, is an important Oscar-season strategist and skilled launcher of independent film campaigns. Last year, her Oscar-season clients included The Social Network. Swartz is working with the 42West brain-trust to come up with a workable exit plan so that she can form her own PR shingle. I’m told that her longtime partners are being supportive and that it is expected they will collaborate on future projects. The exit should happen shortly, and we’ll have more on this as it unfolds. The timing is interesting, since awards season gears up again with the Telluride and Toronto festivals.

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Dimension To Develop ‘Scanners’ TV Series

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: David Cronenberg’s science-fiction horror classic Scanners may be headed to the small screen. The Weinstein Co.’s Dimension Films is developing a drama series adaptation of the movies about a group of people with telepathic and telekinetic abilities, with The Hills Have Eyes writer-director Alexandre Aja signed to executive produce the series and potentially direct the pilot.

Dimension was not involved in the original 1981 Scanners film or its sequels, but acquired the rights to the franchise in a development deal several years ago. The original plan was to mount a theatrical remake, with David Goyer tapped to write two drafts, and Rene Malo, Clark Peterson and Pierre David signed as producers. But with the recent resurgence of genre TV dramas like AMC’s monster hit The Walking Dead, Dimension started also considering a small-screen adaptation. According to insiders, it was Dimension principal Bob Weinstein and Aja who conceived of the plan to transform the Scanners property into a TV show. Malo, Peterson and David remain attached as executive producers on the series, while Goyer is no longer involved. Dimension is already in talks with potential showrunners to create and run the series. Aja is repped by WME and Industry Entertainment.

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Robert Katz New Dimension Films President

By | Wednesday July 20, 2011 @ 10:16am PDT
Mike Fleming

NEW YORK, NY (July 20, 2011) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced that Robert Katz has joined the company as President of Dimension Films. In this position, Katz will be involved in all aspects of theatrical releases, including development, production, acquisitions, distribution, marketing and publicity of theatrical motion picture products released by Dimension Films. The announcement was made today by Bob Weinstein, Co-Chairmen of The Weinstein Company.

Katz was most recently the President of Production at Film Department and previously the EVP of Production at The Yari Film Group where he was in charge of production on films including CRASH, THE ILLUSIONIST and THE PAINTED VEIL. Katz will begin his new position in TWC’s Los Angeles office, reporting to Bob Weinstein.

“We are thrilled to have Robert join us at Dimension. He is a great addition to the company and I look forward to a long successful relationship with him in his position as President of Dimension Films,” said Bob Weinstein.

“I am excited to be part of the Dimension team and honored to support Bob’s vision,” said Katz.

ABOUT ROBERT KATZ
Robert Katz has more than 23 years experience in worldwide film production, development and finance and substantial access into the motion picture executive and creative community. He has worked with veteran and award-winning writers, directors and actors. His feature film credits include; Law Abiding Citizen, which grossed over $126 million globally, Academy Award-winning Crash, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil, One Hour Photo, Academy-Award-nominated Seabiscuit and

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Dimension’s Matt Stein Moves To Producing Role

By | Tuesday July 19, 2011 @ 2:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Dimension Films exec veep of production Matthew Stein is becoming a nonexclusive producer for the company after 12 years as an exec there. Stein had been exec veep. This comes shortly after Brad Luff left the production president post of Dimension. Bob Weinstein will have a new executive in place shortly to run his division. Here’s the official word on Stein.

NEW YORK, NY (July 19, 2011) – Dimension Films announced today that Matthew Stein, EVP of Production, is moving from his role after 12 years of service at the studio to transition into a non-exclusive producing relationship with Dimension Films.

Besides executive producing such films as Rob Zombie’s remake of HALLOWEEN, as well as SCREAM 4, and the upcoming APOLLO 18, Stein has been instrumental in the development and production of such varied films as SPY KIDS 4, PIRANHA 3D, YOUTH IN REVOLT, 1408, SCARY MOVIE 4 and many more.

“I am looking forward to getting involved in movie projects outside my role as a studio executive at Dimension Films. The past 12 years have been incredibly rewarding, and I cannot imagine having had a position in which I could have gained more industry knowledge and hands-on movie-making experiences,” said Stein.

“Stein has been a loyal and talented executive for over a decade. He has been my go-to guy on issues in production and development, and was involved heavily in all other aspects, such as marketing. I wish him luck in all his future endeavors – both

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Dimension Lands French-Language ‘Livid’

By | Tuesday July 12, 2011 @ 8:08am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Dimension Films has acquired rights to the French-language horror film Livid, a move that reteams Bob Weinstein’s company with directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, who helmed the horror thriller Inside that Dimension released back in 2008. The latest deal was made with SND (Groupe M6). Livid is a horror fairy tale set on Halloween night, when three youths decide to burglarize an old lady’s desolate house, which turns out to be no ordinary abode. The film is produced by Vérane Frédiani and Frank Ribière and co-produced by SND, Plug FX and La Ferme. The deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by COO David Glasser, SVP Business Affairs and Acquisitions Michal Steinberg and VP Acquisitions Dan Guando, and for the filmmakers by SND’s Lionel Uzan, Marie-Anne Hurier and Charlotte Boucon.

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No ‘Crow’ Lawsuit: Weinstein Vs Relativity Sent To Arbitration Over Reboot And ‘Nine’

No decision yet on the merits of either side’s legal argument. But Relativity Media prevailed over The Weinstein Company in court today, according to Relativity’s legal representation. “The Court agreed with Relativity that TWC’s lawsuit against Relativity was improper and violated the parties’ arbitration agreement. TWC must now defend itself in the ongoing arbitration proceeding filed by Relativity. In that proceeding, Relativity claims damages in excess of $20 million against TWC for its egregious mishandling of the movie Nine and seeks rescission of the parties’ agreement with respect to The Crow. Today’s ruling demonstrates that TWC’s efforts to misuse the court system as a means of intimidation against Relativity failed. Relativity expects to prevail on all of its claims against TWC in arbitration.” I love lawsuits between the most controversial indie movie moguls.

To remind, Bert Fields is repping Harvey and Bob’s The Weinstein Co against Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media seeking injunctive relief and claiming there’s “a written contract signed by everybody” which gives the Weinsteins exclusive worldwide distribution rights on The Crow reboot and that Relativity can’t sell those rights to anybody else. The original film was distributed by the Weinsteins at Miramax back in 1994 and grossed $50.6M domestic. Relativity has been working to put Edward R. Pressman’s The Crow reinvention of the James O’Barr comic book series together.

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Brad Luff Exiting Dimension Films

By | Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 12:49pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Dimension’s president of production Brad Luff has left the company. He’d been appointed last October after leaving his job as senior vice president of the Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group last fall to manage the development slate for Bob Weinstein’s genre label. Sounds like it wasn’t a good fit. Luff had been at SPWAG since December 2008 and before that he was president of production for The Mayhem Project and Morgan Creek Productions. He broke through at Original Film. Developing.

 

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CANNES: Weinstein Company And Miramax Films Team On ‘Amityville Horror’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

In the first of what will be multiple co-productions between The Weinstein Company and Miramax on sequels of films that the Weinsteins produced at their old haunt, Dimension Films and Miramax are teaming on the production of The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes. The film is based on a script by Casey La Scala and Daniel Farrands, who will direct a film that will shoot this summer for release Jan. 27, 2012. The deal was announced today by TWC co-chairman Bob Weinstein and Miramax CEO Mike Lang. Read More »

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CANNES: Miramax Plots Content Play Through Acquisitions And Inherited Scripts By The Likes Of Anthony Minghella And Stephen Colbert

Mike Fleming

Miramax Films chief Mike Lang came into Cannes determined to dispel the notion that his backers handed $660 million over to Disney simply to manage a film library. Lang met me at the Majestic Friday alongside Rob Lowe, the strategic advisor and an investor in the Miramax deal, one of several he and Colony Capital’s Tom Barrack are planning. Lowe has taken an active hand in poring over a trove of screenplays left behind by Harvey and Bob Weinstein when they exited Disney to form The Weinstein Company. Lowe and Lang feel that the best of those scripts—50-75 of 650 are make-able. Fresh productions, coupled with a plan to soon hire an executive to spearhead film acquisitions and development, positions Miramax to make a content play that Lang and Lowe said will replenish the library and keep it viable.

Describing the process of poring over projects that Disney didn’t seem to care about after the Weinsteins left, Lowe said it was “a lot like that final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the warehouse with all those crates stacked up. Boxes and boxes of scripts and material, none of it catalogued. We’d get five from the bottom of a box, and find a script by Anthony Minghella that he and Sydney Pollack were working on before they died. It’s called The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, it’s a great script, and if it was good enough for Minghella and … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Weinstein Vs Relativity Lawsuit Over Distribution Of ‘The Crow’ Remake; Relativity Calls Bros On ‘Intimidation Antics’

EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE with Relativity reaction below): My day was just made. Right now, there’s a lawsuit being carried to the courtroom clerk in Los Angeles filed by one of the most controversial indie movie moguls against still another most controversial indie movie mogul. Don’t you just love when this happens? Bert Fields is repping Harvey and Bob’s The Weinstein Co against Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media seeking injunctive relief and claiming there’s “a written contract signed by everybody” which gives the Weinsteins exclusive worldwide distribution rights on The Crow reboot. The original was distributed by the Weinsteins at Miramax back in 1994 and grossed $50.6M domestic. The Weinsteins and Kavanaugh went back and forth on “a number of issues” before the lawsuit was filed this afternoon. “Mr. Kavanaugh was not going to honor that contract. Apparently, he’s going to sell these rights to others. He made a bunch of threats,” Fields tells me. “Some people may submit to that kind of arrogant conduct, but we’re not going to do it. If anybody tries to buy these distribution rights in The Crow, they are buying nothing but a lawsuit and they will get sued.”  (The photo above is from Ryan and Harv in happier days…) 

Needless to say, Relativity Media really laid into the Weinsteins in this reaction statement: 

“This is yet another typical litigation stunt from the Weinsteins who have a long history of threatening law suits with the sole purpose of intimidation. If served, Relativity will seek immediate dismissal. While we expect these types of antics from the Weinsteins, we are shocked that a lawyer of Mr. Fields’ caliber would make such false, reckless and intentionally harmful statements to the press about Relativity and Mr. Kavanaugh. We intend to seek appropriate remedies for this misconduct. Clearly this is a feeble attempt to create a press stir and a malicious effort to interfere with Relativity’s development of the project.” 

When I asked Fields why Kavanaugh Read More »

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Weinstein Co Hires MGM’s Erik Lomis As Prez Of Theatrical Distrib & Home Entertainment

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The Weinstein Company has confirmed Deadline’s scoop on Erik Lomis. His hiring gives the company a strong distribution executive who was rusting at MGM. (Release is below)

EXCKUSIVE, 12:20 PM: The Weinstein Company is closing a deal with Erik Lomis to become its President of Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment. He’ll oversee releases generated through both the TWC and Dimension labels. Lomis has been in talks for several weeks, but the issue has been time remaining on his contract at MGM, where he has been President of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution, Home Entertainment & Acquisitions. MGM is in the process of remaking itself with an emphasis on production and not distribution, so it’s not surprising that Lomis would be looking to leave. He had just under a year left on his deal, but I’m told those hurdles have been cleared and his appointment is imminent.

Lomis takes the job at a time when TWC is about to release the Julian Schnabel-directed Miral and Dimension is releasing Spy Kids 4, as well as the Timur Bekmambetov-produced “found footage” thriller Apollo 18, the Sundance pic My Idiot Brother, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus and the Miley Cyrus-starrer So Undercover, among others. It becomes the latest move in TWC’s restructure under Harvey and Bob Weinstein and David Glasser. That restructure has seen Donna Gigliotti become TWC production president, former Miramax production vet Meryl Poster returned to the Weinstein fold as President of Television, and former … Read More »

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Producers File Lawsuit Against Weinsteins Who Are Quick To Hit Back

Mike Fleming

Protocol Pictures partners Tony Leech and Brian Inerfeld filed a 60-page legal claim today against The Weinstein Company in New York State Supreme Court. The $50 million suit is over their removal from the animated film Escape From Planet Earth, and it is a colorful document containing a litany of volatile charges ranging from the assertion that Harvey and Bob Weinstein were out of control, and tried to hush up the plaintiffs by giving them $500,000 to keep quiet the complaint until the Oscars were over. Most of these kinds of battles get settled in arbitration, but you can read the entire complaint here:

The Weinsteins, who are in a dispute with Michael Moore over profits he said he’s owed on Farhenheit 9/11, were quick to hit back in the stereo effect of two high-powered attorneys. Said Bert Fields of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger LLP: “This is a completely frivolous lawsuit.  The pleading contains little more than false, gratuitous, slanderous, preposterous and totally irrelevant personal attacks on TWC and its principals.  Plaintiffs were let go after they refused to make the picture which TWC wanted.  They were paid in excess of $2,000,000 which is what was called for by their contract.  They then threatened to “go public” with false assertions about TWC’s principals unless they were paid money to which they were not entitled.  Their conduct has been unethical and reprehensible.  I can’t wait to get them under oath.”

Added David Boies … Read More »

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Weinsteins Land Timur Bekmambetov’s Surprise Alien Pic ‘Apollo 18′

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: I’m told that WME client Trevor Caewood is directing Apollo 18, and that 3 Arts/CAA client Brian Miller wrote the script. So Timur Bekmambetov is producing only.

EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company won a bidding battle that went past Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning for Apollo 18, an extraterrestrial  film that is being creatively spearheaded by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. The picture, which is well into production and will be released March 4, 2011, shapes up as the next in a line of films that use a tinge of reality to launch into thriller story lines. Others include the Paranormal Activity films, the upcoming Oren Peli-directed Area 51, and the JJ Abrams-directed Super 8.

Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought worldwide rights to the film, agreeing to fully finance the picture. Bob Weinstein met several times with Bekmambetov before making a deal that came after Bekmambetov presented film footage purported to have been shot by the crew of Apollo 18. That  moon mission from the early 70s was officially canceled by NASA, but according to urban legend, it actually happened. Timur’s footage shows signs of alien life, and the events of the mission are built into a thriller story line. The film so far has been a well kept secret but would have to be well underway to be ready for release five months from now. … Read More »

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