Weinstein Co. standing behind 'Nine'

Won't cut screens despite lackluster boxoffice

The studio behind the star-studded musical "Nine" said it has no plans at this time to pull the movie out of any theaters after disappointing box office and lackluster reviews.

The Weinstein Company said that "Nine" would play in 1,412 screens in the United States this coming weekend, the same number as last weekend.

"At this moment in time there has been no plan between us nor the theater chains that we deal with to cut any theaters," David Glasser, an operations executive for the independent Weinstein Company told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We are going to hold our theaters as planned. The movie is working."

Glasser told Reuters on Tuesday that the movie was performing very well on about 890 key screens but not as strongly in some smaller cities. He said the studio expected "Nine" to perform well in the weeks ahead.

"Nine" was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and cost an estimated $64 million to produce. But it finished eighth at the North American box office on its second week last weekend with a modest $5.5 million in ticket sales.

The poor showing came despite five Golden Globe nominations for the Federico Fellini-inspired song and dance spectacular whose cast includes Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman.

Harvey Weinstein, who earlier this year sought restructuring advice for his cash-strapped independent Weinstein Company, has long made a strategy of turning awards show buzz into box office success.

Movie industry watchers had expected "Nine" to finish in the top five over the Christmas holiday weekend in a crowded field that included action films "Avatar" and "Sherlock Holmes."

"Nine" opened in limited U.S. release on December 18 and expanded widely on December 25.

"It's got to be a major blow to their strategy," said Larry Gerbrandt, principal with Media Valuation Partners.

"(Weinstein) really needed this to work. I don't know if the blow is fatal or not, but this is certainly a setback," he said of the box office figures.

The film, based on an award-winning Broadway stage musical, follows an Italian movie director through a mid-life career and personal crisis and his entanglements with women.

Two weeks ago it got five Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild nominations. But it left movie critics unimpressed, earning a meager 37 percent approval rating at review aggregating website rottentomatoes.com.

Movie goers have been kinder. Show business buzz tracker Fizziolo.gy reported nearly 50 percent of the 12,500 messages posted online about "Nine" fall into the "positive" category.

Success at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards shows in January is widely seen as a precursor to an Oscar nomination in February.

But Pete Hammond at the Los Angeles Times awards show tracker "The Envelope" wrote that "Nine's" poor box office could hurt its chances for a best picture Oscar nod.

"It may take all of Harvey Weinstein's considerable magic touch with Oscar to pull this one out of the hat," Hammond wrote.