I read Edward Jay Epstein's latest Slate piece, about Harvey Weinstein's creative accounting practices whilst at Miramax, when I was in Chicago covering the Festival. The night before, I sat through a screening of The Matador, the Pierce Brosnan/Greg Kinnear buddy comedy that Harvey picked up at Sundance and has plans to release through his new company this fall. On the surface, The Matador seems like an odd acquisition for Weinstein; an indie film in name only, no major studio would have trouble marketing its broad comedy and multiple-quadrant-skewing premise. On the surface, it lacks a certain essence that used to mark a typical pre-divorce Weinstein Sundance pick-up – where's the challenge?

Without touching directly on that acquisition, Epstein puts it in a kind of perspective. Harvey's business at Miramax was apparently based on delaying the release of films that he knew were going to be unprofitable so that those losses wouldn't affect his own bonuses. We've talked much about the Miramax late-summer shelf dump; Epstein says, films like The Brothers Grimm and An Unfinished Life, because they won't be balanced out by Oscar season hits, are such disasters that they're going to eat away five years worth of profits. That model, of releasing prestige and auteur projects at strategic points along the fiscal calendar so that the gems balance out the turkeys, is obviously risky as hell. Maybe The Matador is part of the new Weinstein Company's new strategy: a bad film dressed up as a good one, it seems like a key piece in the Weinstein's transition from a business based on imaginary profits, to one based on films that actually make money, regardless of prestige.
categories Movies, Cinematical