Harvey Weinstein's back in the hunt

'Reader,' 'Barcelona' land him eight Globes noms

When Harvey Weinstein landed scattered awards nominations during the past few years, some -- especially Weinstein himself -- touted a comeback.

This time, it's more real.

With eight Globes noms between "The Reader" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Harvey and Bob Weinstein scored their best post-Disney performance and bested all specialty units and mini-majors. (Miramax and Fox Searchlight had seven noms apiece.)

Now what?

Weinstein typically would capitalize on a slew of Globes nominations with aggressive campaigns and heavy spending. While the company certainly doesn't have the war chest it did at Disney or even in its early days, most believe money for this campaign won't be a concern.

"Now that Harvey is buoyed by the Globes, he's got to campaign 'The Reader' and see how far he gets," one insider said.

The company will, however, face some issues. It likely won't be able to push Kate Winslet as much as it normally would; she's expected to campaign heavily for husband Sam Mendes' "Revolutionary Road," for which she also earned a nom.

And Weinstein had best motion picture drama nominees the past two years at the Globes ("The Great Debaters," "Bobby") that didn't materialize into Oscar noms. "Harvey understands the HFPA demographic better than anyone," one film veteran said. "That doesn't necessarily carry over to the Academy."

Still, the company will have advantages, including a movie with stronger word-of-mouth than past candidates and the poignant backstory of two of the movie's producers, Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, passing away in the past year.

Awards attention offers more than just bragging rights for the Weinstein Co. "Reader" is a potentially crucial revenue stream, and the Globes noms will be an essential marketing element as the movie opens this weekend.

Weinstein wants to use the film to create financial momentum as it goes into a 2009 that will see it release such big bets as Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Bastards" and Rob Marshall's "Nine" and a 2010 in which it aims for "August: Osage County."

While the company has had awards-oriented movies in the past, Weinstein used the noms Thursday to describe a new chapter centered on the Weinstein staple of prestige movies. "For the first 21⁄2 years, we were so busy building infrastructure that the notion of doing something for the Golden Globes wasn't even on our minds," Weinstein said. "We're now taking a firm stance at our company. We want to make movies that win awards."

He added, "The best use of my time is we can find more talented people to run (other businesses such as home video and TV deals). The talent I have is to foster these movies."

With the awards attention for "Barcelona," the company also will reopen it this weekend in 20 markets; the company has taken back distribution from MGM for a theatrical run ahead of the film's January DVD release.

No matter how the "Barcelona" and "Reader" sagas unfold, the noms provide a measure of vindication for Weinstein, who had pushed director Stephen Daldry to finish "Reader" in time for an 2008 release while former producer Scott Rudin pushed back.

"The big reason to have it out this year is that I thought it was ready," Weinstein said, adding, "Anthony and Sydney were two of the most popular and generous people in the business. This is the year they should be uppermost on people's minds."
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