'Amelie' Director Questions Whether The Weinstein Co. Plans to Release His New Film

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet - H 2013
Jan Thijs

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet - H 2013

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's award-winning 3D drama The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, which was released in Europe in the fall of 2013, hasn't opened yet in the U.S., and the director is blaming The Weinstein Co. co-head Harvey Weinstein.

TWC acquired U.S. rights to the new film by the director of Amelie, which Weinstein also distributed back when he was running Miramax Films, in May 2013.

Speaking at a Jan. 26 screening of T.S. Spivet before the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society in Los Angeles, Jeunet said, "If the film is not yet released in the U.S.A., it's only because Harvey Weinstein bought it, and of course Mr. Weinstein wants to re-edit it." He continued, "Luckily I have the final cut because I'm French and it's a French and Canada co-production. … But he put the pressure, for a question of power, to cut it. Maybe Harvey Weinstein won't ever release the film. It's just a question of power."

But a spokesperson for TWC said the distributor plans to release the film — as is, not edited — in the U.S. this spring. "We think T.S. Spivet is a beautiful, artistic film and a great family-friendly film. We did have some concerns over some of the scenes that, while they may be family-friendly in France, may not be seen that way in the U.S. But when Jean-Pierre and the producer said they wanted to leave those scenes in, we were 100 percent fine," TWC said in a statement. "We worked with Jean-Pierre on Amelie and have nothing but complete respect for his talent and artistic vision, and look forward to working with him on this film."

Jeunet will be honored with the Harold Lloyd Award — whose previous recipients have included James Cameron and Ang Lee at the International 3D Society's Creative Arts Awards on Jan. 28, and his new film has already earned accolades, including the best 3D feature award at Camerimage and best cinematography at France's Cesar Awards.

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Spivet is a rare example of how 3D can be used effectively to tell a dramatic story. The Hollywood Reporter's original review of the film said: "The film's greatest achievement is in the way the accomplished 3D treatment — this is Jeunet's first foray into the format — emerges entirely naturally, as the precise expression of a gifted child's vivid imagination."

"I don't think 3D is good for action movies. When it's fast, it's just painful," said Jeunet. "It's much more for quiet movies."

During the evening, Jeunet also expressed concern about the use of 3D, saying Hollywood "uses 3D only to make more profits, and basically they don't care about the quality. ... Especially the owners of the theaters. It's very dark, and they don't care about the quality of the lamps. It's a fight for every screen."

Jeunet asserted that 3D photography won't break the bank. He said Spivet was made for a lean $33 million "and all of the 3D, including postproduction, was $1.5 million; it's not so much."

Spivet was lensed in 3D by cinematographer Thomas Hardmeier, with stereo supervision by Demetri Portelli (Hugo).

Asked about this year's Oscar nominees, Jeunet (who earned a 2002 Academy Award nomination for the screenplay of Amelie) admitted he's not eligible to vote because "I forgot to pay." While he has not seen all the best picture nominees yet, he said he loved Whiplash. "I would vote for Whiplash, even if I haven't seen the other ones."

Next up for Jeunet is a pilot for a Casanova series for Amazon.

E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA