The battle over ‘The Reader’

Posted by · 10:13 am · September 23rd, 2008

Cover of Bernhard Schlink\'s The ReaderThe news that Scott Rudin and Harvey Weinstein are in a tug-of-war over the release date of “The Reader” isn’t really news at all.  We were talking about this over a month ago, back when it seemed Rudin had won the debate.  But the pieces slowly fell into place and a 2008 release became a reality, so here we are.

The problem: the film isn’t finished yet.  That’s all well and good.  Neither is “Revolutionary Road” or, last I checked, “Milk.”  The issue with “The Reader” is that it likely won’t be finished by the time Weinstein wants to release the film, and that is where the efforts of those involved could go to waste at the whims of an awards-hungry big-wig desperate for a major Oscar contender for the first time in four – count ’em – four years.

What’s worse — or at least could be perceived as worse — is the notion floating out there that Weinstein is banking on good will for “Reader” producers Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack.  Both filmmakers passed away earlier this year.  Steven Zeitchik aludes to this in his Hollywood Reporter piece.

Zeitchik has a lot of smoke but not much fire, though, since both Weinstein and Rudin declined commen.  And he’s likely peddling anonymous quotes from publicists on one side or the other — sentiments we’ve all heard, and probably from the same publicists.

My guess, at the end of the day (and as one of Zeitchik’s sources concludes), is that Weinstein wins the battle.  He’s proven recently enough that he’ll push something down the collective AMPAS throat if he doesn’t have the goods (Sienna Miller in “Factory Girl.”)  It’s that insatiable awards appetite.  The tragedy this time around isn’t that he won’t have the quality, though, but, more likely, that he’ll have an incomplete product that could have been better serviced.  We’ll see how it turns out, but here’s a look at Zeitchik’s collection of a month-and-a-half’s worth of rumors:

Weinstein is pushing for a December release for the movie, which director Stephen Daldry is working on in post. The romance set in postwar Germany and based on Bernhard Schlink’s novel already has buzz from strong test screenings, though there are post elements left to be completed…

Rudin, however, has been lobbying hard for a 2009 release. The producer already has two Oscar candidates — “Revolutionary Road,” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Winslet as a married couple in the 1950s, at Paramount Vantage, and the Broadway transfer “Doubt,” toplining Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, at Miramax — and a third would mean he is vying heavily against himself.

The producer faced a similar scenario last year when his “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” competed against each other for Oscar kudos.

The fact that Winslet stars in both “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader” would mean the actress too could wind up competing against herself.

The rest.

→ 9 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

9 responses so far

  • 1 9-23-2008 at 10:23 am

    Patrick said...

    I don’t think Daldry will let it out this year if it’s genuinely not finished.

    Weinstein can battle for it all he likes, but if the team aren’t happy with letting it go they won’t. It’s not Rudin that’s the block for Weinstein, surely it’s Daldry.

    It really depends what type of state the film is in, and whether Daldry makes a last dash to finish it or holds out.

    I think it’s 50/50 at the moment, but I’m leaning towards 2009 (I’ve always thought we wouldn’t see it this year).

  • 2 9-23-2008 at 10:34 am

    Andrew L. said...

    Seems a bit morbid; Weinsteins rushing it in order to bank on the “fresh” sentimentality of Manghella and Pollack’s death.

    (BTW, I think you mean Sienna Miller in “Factory Girl”)

  • 3 9-23-2008 at 11:11 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I do indeed. They blend together. Thanks Andrew.

  • 4 9-23-2008 at 11:49 am

    Mr. F said...

    could the same thing be happening with “the road”? the movie comes out in two months and there has been no teaser or posters!

  • 5 9-23-2008 at 12:13 pm

    Joshua said...

    I loved the book and I still can’t wait to see the film. I think Daldry is gonn ado a fantastic job and do justice the the book, but if it’s not ready then I don’t see why it couldn’t be pushed to 2009.

    I’m also wondering what’s happening with The Road, Mr. F. Last I heard, it was still coming up with the score of the film. That’s another adaptattion I’m waiting to see.

  • 6 9-23-2008 at 12:32 pm

    mike said...

    Mr F.:

    Some photos for the Road was released at USA Today in Aug, Kris posted a link:

  • 7 9-23-2008 at 3:21 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    When will they release it if not this year? It’s too highly anticipated to be dumped in march or april even.

  • 8 9-24-2008 at 1:22 am

    Ger said...

    David Poland is saying that Kate Winslet has said she’ll refuse to do publicity for The Reader if they release it in competition with Revolutionary Road….

  • 9 9-24-2008 at 2:15 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    They should wait until 2009. If it’s not really special, it’ll get lost in the crush with a December release.

    That said, if it is really special … what about Cannes?