Weinstein weathering storm

'We're fortified with enough cash to keep this business going,' exec says

"We're not going anywhere — not willingly, at least," Weinstein Co. co-chairman Bob Weinstein joked Wednesday at the Media and Money conference in New York.

The exec was assessing his company's stability in the hurting indie film marketplace, but his statements also spoke to rumors of financial troubles that swirled around the Weinstein Co. even before the recent economic downturn.

"If we were trying to raise money right now, it would be difficult," Weinstein said, "but we're fortified with enough cash to keep this business going."

Harvey Weinstein originally was slated to appear on the "Indie Present and Future" panel with his brother but bowed out for personal reasons, according to a spokesperson.

The panel's moderator, THR deputy editor Andrew Wallenstein, raised a question about Stephen Daldry's "The Reader," the upcoming film that has been a source of contention between Harvey Weinstein and producer Scott Rudin. Rudin removed himself from the project last week, partly because of pressure from the Weinsteins to speed up postproduction on the film for an Oscar-qualifying Dec. 10 release.

Asked if Rudin's departure could hurt the film's Oscar chances, Bob Weinstein said, "Perhaps it will for some of his other pictures" — a reference to Rudin's "Reservation Road" and "Doubt" — "but I think this film is terrific."

With COO Lee Solomon by his side, Weinstein cited his company's Asian Film Fund, Latin Film Fund, international boxoffice and strategic partnerships as main sources of strength, along with TWC's new pay TV deal with Showtime. He acknowledged the dwindling DVD market and a "35% across-the-board haircut" on pay TV payouts as factors hurting the industry but said the library of films he's amassed would benefit from a future DVD-style explosion in the digital market.

The second annual Media and Money conference, which wrapped Wednesday, was presented by Dow Jones and the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter. (partialdiff)