90s nostalgia as Weinsteins and Miramax reunite for 'Shakespeare in Love' sequel

Posted by · 2:15 pm · December 16th, 2013

New Year’s Eve is rapidly approaching, and over at Harvey Weinstein’s, people are getting ready to party like it’s 199– well, 1998 actually, with all due to respect to Prince. In what is surely the oddest film news of the day, The Weinstein Company appears to have entered a realm of pure Nineties nostalgia: not only have the Weinstein brothers built new bridges with their former company, Miramax, but they’re using that alliance to develop sequels to Best Picture Oscar winner “Shakespeare in Love” and, er, “Rounders.”

The retro action doesn’t stop there: the alliance will also hatch TV series based on Gus van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting” and David O. Russell’s “Flirting With Disaster.”

What’s going on, exactly? Mike Fleming at Deadline has all the businessy details, but here’s the gist. When the Weinsteins finally bailed on the Disney-owned Miramax to go their own way, they left behind a sizable library of creative property that they had cultivated in their time at the high-end studio. Now, The Weinstein Company has fixed a 20-year deal with Miramax’s current guardians, Colony Capital, that will allow them to develop and domestically distribute a range of properties — including film, TV and stage productions — while Miramax handles financing and international distribution.

First on the docket, apparently, are those aforementioned sequels. The lyrical ending to “Shakespeare in Love” wasn’t exactly crying out for a follow-up, though the film has endured enough that I imagine people may be curious to see another chapter. The “Rounders” sequel has actually been on the cards for a while, though it’s still a bit of a puzzle: the John Dahl-directed, Matt Damon-starring poker thriller was a neat little genre film that has acquired a niche following over the years, but it grossed only $23 million on release Stateside — they may have good creative reasons to return to that well, but “overwhelming demand” is not among them.  

Weinstein explains: “I personally have never made a sequel, but I will make ‘Shakespeare In Love’ as one. I”ve always wanted to do that and now we have the impetus to. There is so much intellectual property, and we”re in an age where, for however long it lasts, content is king.”

No script or casting details are mentioned for the project. Will Gwyneth Paltrow be lured from her Macrobiotic Empress perch to return as an older, wearier muse to the Bard? Will Joseph Fiennes play Will Shakespeare again, once a search party locates him? Or will this be a next-generation deal? We can have fun guessing for the moment.

Weinstein is a little more forthcoming about the “Rounders” project: for starters the film’s original leading men will return. “I”ve discussed making ‘Rounders 2’ with Matt Damon and I would say that”s going to be instantaneous. The guys [writers David Levien and Brian Koppelman] have a great idea, a way to make it more international where you start the card game in Paris, that”s all I want to say. There might be a certain beautiful Parisian actress involved in it, and then we”re off to the racetrack and Vegas with Matty and Edward Norton, and a new supervillain to replace John Malkovich.”

Robert De Niro is reportedly in the frame for that role, while we’re left to speculate on the French actress in question. Cotillard? Seydoux? Either way, it doesn’t sound like great news for poor Gretchen Mol.

Also in the pipeline, reports Fleming, are a Stephen Colbert-scripted comedy, “The Alibi,” about a service designed to assist unfaithful spouses, and “The Ninth Life of Louis Drax,” a script that was in development with the late Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella — both longtime allies of the Weinsteins. (You may recall that they were posthumously Oscar-nominated for producing “The Reader.”) 

More nitty-gritties here, but it’s hard not to focus on the “Shakespeare in Love” news. Are you eager for a sequel, or do you think Harvey should leave well enough alone? And when was the last time you thought about “Rounders?” Share your thoughts in the comments.

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