Weinstein maintains a muscular presence at Cannes

Posted by · 9:21 am · May 21st, 2012

It’s fair to say The Weinstein Company is pretty high on the value of Cannes this year. And tonight will be all about their upcoming films as they pull the old “let’s show some footage, stir the interest pot and steal a little bit of thunder” trick.

The Weinsteins came to the fest with two heavily anticipated films already in tow (John Hillcoat’s “Lawless” and Andrew Dominik’s “Killing Them Softly”). But they’ve maintained a muscular presence in the market as well, acquiring light touches in Christian Vincent’s “Haute Cuisine” and Wayne Blair’s “The Sapphires,” as well as political angles on Muammar Gaddafi (“The Oath of Tobruk”) and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden (“Code Name Geronimo”).

They grabbed market title “Quartet” in advance of the fest, which could pop up as an Oscar play from first-time director Dustin Hoffman, while there is speculation that James Gray’s “Low Life” starring Joaquin Phoenix could come off the table and into their pocket soon enough, too. And speaking of Phoenix, he’s front and center in the new trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” one of three films the company will be teasing at tonight’s shindig.

Naturally with Anderson, the film is shrouded in mystery. But come on. We all know it’s pouncing on Scientology and Philip Seymour Hoffman will be playing a cipher of L. Ron Hubbard. And of course an early draft script has been knocked around for quite some time. I guess I understand not wanting to ruffle the feathers of that massive beast too much in advance of the film’s release, but the coy stops today with the trailer and the Cannes thing.

Guy won’t be at the event (“No ticket.”), but Drew McWeeny will be so there will be HitFix coverage of whatever pops up. It’s going on as I type, actually. And of course, it’s a dicey move.

Just a few years ago when Paramount brought a reel of David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” to Telluride, the press corps — particularly the net-based folks — turned on it something fierce. That whiff of taint stayed with the film somewhat throughout the season, I think.

Quentin Tarantino is certainly no stranger to the Croisette, having been a welcome face and part of the family ever since he came to town in 1994 with a dazzling ensemble of stars for eventual Palme d’Or winner “Pulp Fiction” (which, speaking of Scientology, featured John Travolta). His latest, “Django Unchained,” will also be previewed and maybe give us some indication of how things are going on that one.

Finally, there’ll be a taste of David O. Russell’s latest, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” which is already in the cutting room. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro and, again, could be an awards season player. Word is De Niro is finally doing more than phoning something in and is quite good in the film, while Lawrence could be positioned for a lead actress bid, capitalizing on her new-found “Hunger Games” stardom and opening Jacki Weaver up for a supporting run.

If I’m not mistaken, that’s every single Weinstein film so far in play this season. Certainly it’s most of them. Summed up in one post. About Cannes. Hmmm.

Yes, last year the Weinsteins grabbed “The Artist” early at Cannes, saw it play in Competition and delight the masses, walk away with a Best Actor prize for the affable Jean Dujardin and, well, we certainly know the rest. A few years prior, things were slightly different with Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” which didn’t exactly light the Croisette on fire but eventually caught its stride and had a solid awards season showing.

So is Harvey just doubling down on Cannes? There has been a “throw it all at the wall and see what sticks” strategy in his bag of tricks for years, as well as a tendency to take things off the table so they don’t interfere with bigger plans for other films down the line. And certainly he’s banking on stories like this one to drum up attention and exposure.

Whatever the case, the Weinsteins have a considerable presence at the fest this year, mining for gold on the French Riviera. What will they turn up? We’ll know soon enough.

If you haven’t seen the new trailer for “The Master,” check it out below, as well as the recently unveiled teaser poster for “Killing Them Softly.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oZDKFoCqAw&w=640&h=360]

Killing Them Softly

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