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|Birth Place:||Queens, New York, USA||Profession:||executive, screenwriter, producer, director|
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The younger, quieter half of the Weinstein brothers who, as co-chairs of Miramax Film Corporation, have flourished amid a flurry of filmic fanfare surrounding their distribution of controversial cinema. While Harvey ("Mr. Outside") makes the deals and manages the three-ring circuses of publicity often surrounding Miramax product, Bob ("Mr. Inside") manages the company's expenditures and revenue, which, at $55 million in 1990, made it the largest of the independent distributors.Starting the company (named from a combination of the names of their parents, Miriam and Max) in 1979 with money they made distributing a stray film acquired at the Cannes Film Festival, "The Secret Policeman's Ball," the Weinsteins have successfully handled both quiet quality films (the Oscar-winning "My Left Foot" 1989) and more provocative fare ("sex, lies, and videotape" 1989; "Truth or Dare" 1991) larger distributors consider too risky. In 1990, two films distributed by Miramax, Pedro Almodovar's "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" and Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," received X ratings from the Motion Picture Association of America. The Weinsteins sued and while the case was dismissed, it forced the...
The younger, quieter half of the Weinstein brothers who, as co-chairs of Miramax Film Corporation, have flourished amid a flurry of filmic fanfare surrounding their distribution of controversial cinema. While Harvey ("Mr. Outside") makes the deals and manages the three-ring circuses of publicity often surrounding Miramax product, Bob ("Mr. Inside") manages the company's expenditures and revenue, which, at $55 million in 1990, made it the largest of the independent distributors.
Starting the company (named from a combination of the names of their parents, Miriam and Max) in 1979 with money they made distributing a stray film acquired at the Cannes Film Festival, "The Secret Policeman's Ball," the Weinsteins have successfully handled both quiet quality films (the Oscar-winning "My Left Foot" 1989) and more provocative fare ("sex, lies, and videotape" 1989; "Truth or Dare" 1991) larger distributors consider too risky. In 1990, two films distributed by Miramax, Pedro Almodovar's "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" and Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," received X ratings from the Motion Picture Association of America. The Weinsteins sued and while the case was dismissed, it forced the MPAA to review their policies and create a new NC-17 rating. The following year, both Jennie Livingston's acclaimed study of the gay drag balls in Harlem, "Paris Is Burning," and Peter Richardson's satirical farce, "The Pope Must Die," were condemned by various religious organizations. Making the most of the free publicity attending these scandals, Bob and Harvey Weinstein have expanded the power base of Miramax and the variety of films distributed worldwide.
Miramax was purchased by Disney for $80 million in 1993, with the Weinsteins kept on. The influx of money into the company more than made up for any disagreements the two companies may have had. The mid-1990s were slow ones financially for Miramax, though the foreign films like P J Hogan's "Muriel's Wedding" (1994) did phenomenally well. The company's brilliant marketing strategies were best exemplified by its successful campaign to earn 1995 Oscar nods for Michael Radford's "Il Postino (The Postman)" (1994). Things picked up considerably in 1996 with such critical and/or box office hits as Alexander Payne's "Citizen Ruth," Anthony Minghella's "The English Patient" and Jerry Zaks' "Marvin's Room."
In 1992, Bob Weinstein formed an offshoot of Miramax, Dimension Films, which concentrated on medium-budget action and horror films. The first release, "Supercop," did not do terribly well, and for a few years the label languished. But eventually Dimension began showing a profit with such films as Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996) and particularly Alex Proyas' "The Crow" (1994), which grossed in excess of $50 million. Wes Craven's "Scream" (1996) proved to be a surprise hit, grossing in excess of $100 million.
In 1996, both Weinsteins signed seven-year deals with parent company Disney, described by Harvey as "more about ownership and less about salary."
Along the way, the company developed early pacts with some Hollywood's most promising emerging filmmakers--including Quentin Tarantino (Miramax distributed all of Tarantino's films from 1994's "Pulp Fiction" on), Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Smith and Minghella--and developing onscreen talents including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Billy Bob Thornton and Renee Zellweger. Miramax also developed an enviable reputation for mounting highly effective Academy Awards campaigns, effectively wooing Oscars voters and earning multiple nominations and trophies for its films and performers, including "Good Will Hunting" (1997), "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), "The Cider House Rules" (1999), "Chocolat" (2000), "In the Bedroom" (2001) and "Chicago" (2002), "Cold Mountain" (2003) and "Finding Neverland" (2004). Between 1993 and 2004, Miramax amassed 220 Academy Award nominations, winning three Best Pictures and 53 total Oscars, and the company's canny marketing efforts produced 11 films that grossed over $100 million domestically. Meanwhile, Dimension also proved profitable, with hits including the "Scary Movie" and "Spy Kids" franchises.
Although Miramax struggled to expand into television, it did score major promotional points with its unscripted Matt Damon-Ben Affleck-produced series "Project Greenlight" (2000 - ), which depicted the behind-the-scenes struggles of untested, undiscovered filmmakers to shoot a movie ultimately to be distributed by Miramax (while the premise made for compelling television, the resultant films never made a critical or commercial impact). A spin-off model search series, "Project Runway" (Bravo, 2004- ) hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, also proved a modest success. The company's publishing effort, Miramax Books, was profitable with 20 bestselling titles as of 2005, but the 1999 attempt to launch Talk, a high-profile magazine helmed by former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, was a prominent flop after only three years of publication.
Harvey aggressively courted legendary director Martin Scorsese by helping him pursue a long-planned project, "Gangs of New York" (2002), the story of the New York immigrant riots of the late 19th century. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis , the movie went through a series of set-backs, budget problems and a year-long release delay as Scorsese reportedly wrangled with Weinstein over various details before its fall 2002 release. Nevertheless, with his relationship with Miramax repaired by the time of the film's release, Weinstein began stumping for an Academy Award nomination for the director with one of his famously shrewd award campaigns and the results were fruitful: not only did Scorsese take home the Golden Globe award as Best Director of a drama, he also scored an Oscar nomination for "Gangs." Defying the hype surrounding the difficulties of bringing "Gangs" to the screen, Scorsese readily re-upped with Miramax and re-teamed with DiCaprio for "The Aviator" (2004), a lavish biopic of the legendary billionaire Howard Hughes. Powered by Miramax's now legendary promotional muscle, "The Aviator" won the Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture Drama and earned multiple Oscar nominations and awards.
The Weinsteins also found themselves wrangling his studio's relationship with its golden boy Quentin Tarantino--who had been in some way involved with 10 Miramax productions--over his latest opus. Although initially set as a $42 million movie, "Kill Bill" ballooned into a $60-plus million, three hour opus that took 155 days to shoot--some insiders beleived this was the writer-director's movie meltdown, equivalent to Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," but Tarantino kept forging forward until the film was finished. Miramax was impressed with the quality of the footage yet unsure of an audience's ability to endure such levels of relentless violence. In a shrewd movie both financially and hype-wise, the studio decided to issue the film in two parts just months away from each other as "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003) and "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" (2004)--although Weinstein did have to haggle with Tarantino and Lawrence Bender to give up some of their compensation in order to provide for increased marketing costs and star salaries (rather than budget overages), at least until the studio saw a profit returned. It was a profitable gamble, creatively and commercially: one of the most graphically violent films ever released--with an R rating, no less--"Kill Bill, Vol. 1" proved to be every bit as critically polarizing as each previous Tarantino effort, with many critics calling it brilliant cinema and others decrying its gut-wrenching scenes. And like many other Tarantino efforts, "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" spun the already established formula on its head when it scaled down the action in favor of unexpected character moments and the writer-directer's characteristically absorbing dialogue.
In 2004 Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11"--focusuing on the U.S.-Middle East relationships and events (particularly the long-term links and feuds between the Bush and bin Laden families) contributing to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks on America and the subsequent fallout--fanned the flames of controversy: Disney CEO Michael Eisner decreed that distributing the film via Miramax would harm the company's negotiations for favorable treatment for its Florida theme parks from Governor Jeb Bush; the Weinsteins instead bought back the film rights and distributed it independently (teaming with Lions Gate and IFC Films), thus relieving Disney of any corporate responsibility for the film (Disney even donated the buy-back fee, estimated at about $6 million, to charity). The pre-release furor only heightened interest in the film, and that interest subsequently skyrocketed when "Fahrenheit 9/11" won the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes International Film Festival almost two months prior to the film's release, resulting in the film becoming the first documentary in history to debut as its opening week's top-grossing film, netting $21.8 million.
The rift over the Moore film appeared to be the beginning of the end of the relationship between Disney and the Weinsteins: the former appeared tired of defending Miramax's risky film output to its conservative, family-friendly investors, while the brothers clearly resented any interference from their corporate parent. The clashes included Disney chafing at the Weinstein's desire to make larger, more costly films and vetoing the Weinstein's proposal to buy independent studio Artisan Films and a stake in the cable channels Bravo and IFC. Disney also turned down idea of Miramax producing Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" films (although the brothers had producing credits on the films, ultimately made by New Line). The constant disagreements stifled the brothers' entrepreneurial spirit, according to the Weinsteins, who--after monhs of speculation--formally severed their pact with the Mouse House after a dozen years in March 2005 following long, arduous but reportedly amicable negotiations. Disney retained the Miramax name, the library of more than 550 films and the publishing wing, while the Weinsteins received an estimated $130 million cash payout (minus their "Farenheit 9/11" profits and fees to buy back the rights to some 40 Disney projects)and kept Dimension Films (the two companies would retain the rights to co-finance and co-produce certain film, TV and stage projects, including Dimension sequels and a planned Broadway production of "Shakespeare in Love").
The Weinsteins immediately announced the creation of a new company provisionally called "The Weinstein Co.," with an advisory board including various investment bankers and media executives as well as Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The company planned to release 15 to 20 films a year, including co-productions with Disney and would include other components, including the Internet and publishing ventures.
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Made Chevalier de L'Ordre Arts et Lettres by the French government in 2001.
"The Weinsteins have considered a public stock offering for Miramax which would double its capital base from $50 to $100 million." --From The Hollywood Reporter, July 24, 1991
In order to promote the film "The Pope Must Die," Miramax eventually decided to retitle the tale of a corpulent pontiff "The Pope Must Diet." Some newspapers had been advertising the film as "The Pope Must..." while in Yugoslavia the movie was being sold as "Sleeping with the Fishes."
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