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Harvey Weinstein spent more time talking about his just-concluded trip to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan than tub-thumping for his upcoming movies, as he hosted The Weinstein Co.’s annual preview of its coming attractions at the Majestic Hotel on May 16.
Speaking of the visit he made with his wife, Georgina Chapman, under U.N. auspices, he said, “I read some funny things that [it was] because of the Grace of Monaco screening, but the trip was planned long before Grace was going to be the opening night at Cannes.” Instead of revisiting that subject, he focused instead on the plight of the 400,000 refugees, the Jordanians who have taken them in, and the kids he met who were excited to talk movies with him. “We’re going to make a little documentary about that and the bravery of the Jordanian people,” he promised.
While Weinstein has used past presentations to talk up specific Oscar contenders, this year he let a reel of trailers speak for him. The movies on display ran the gambit from the musically themed Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, to the The Giver, a futuristic tale of teens confronting their future in a dystopian society. The lineup also included the animated movie Underdogs and live action/animated hybrid Paddington; the love story The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which is playing in Un Certain Regard; Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; the Bill Murray comedy St. Vincent; The Imitation Game, in which Benedict Cumberbatch stars as mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing; and Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. Undated releases include a new Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender, the World War II drama Suite Francais, the boxing pic Southpaw, Tulip Fever and Women in Gold.
Conspicuously absent from the reel was Grace of Monaco, which The Weinstein Co. will release in the U.S. after a noisy battle with the film’s director Olivier Dahan. Waylaid by reporters as he made his exit from the presentation, Weinstein called the director a “nice guy.” Admitting that the Monaco royal family, which has objected to the film, has a “legitimate problem” with the movie, he suggested there is an unspecified scene he would like to add back into the movie that would address their concerns.
Also on hand for the formal part of the presentation were Naomi Watts, who appears in St. Vincent as what Weinstein jokingly called “a Russian woman of the night. It was typecasting,” to which Watts responded, “I got to play a different character. It was not typecasting at all.”
Ryan Reynolds, who will star in Woman in Gold, about efforts to reclaim a painting by Gustav Klimt, offered up a joke of his own, saying, “I think I was born to play a Jewish restitution lawyer.”
The presentation also included some footage from Southpaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker and directed by Antoine Fuqua. “Making a boxing movie has its challenges, especially when Martin Scorsese set the bar — and Sylvester Stallone, too,” Weinstein admitted.
“After you get back from a trip to Jordan and you see 10 kids talking about all of the movies they love, even though they’re living through terribly tough times, it makes me proud to be, with you all, part of this industry,” Weinstein concluded.
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