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‘Nine’ No Magic Number for Weinstein

Restructuring debt and in need of a hit, Weinstein finds ”Nine“ is not the next ”Chicago“

Restructuring its debt and hoping for the next “Chicago,” the Weinstein Co. is finding disappointment at the box office from its latest Rob Marshall musical, “Nine.”
Even following five Golden Globe nominations — which included best comedy or musical, as well as performance consideration for Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz — box office momentum doesn’t seem to be picking up for the film.
Co-financed with Relativity Media at what Weinstein officials say is a $64 million production budget, the film had only grossed about $14.1 million after two weeks of wide release in just over 1,400 theaters.
And last weekend, it took in just $3.9 million, a 29 percent drop from Christmas weekend — not a steep decline, but nonetheless not the hoped-for result heading into the awards season.
With Oscar nominations and the Golden Globes awards telecast still to come, success could still conceivably happen for “Nine,” a film that reunited Marshall with Bob and Harvey Weinstein for the first time since their Oscar-winning collaboration on “Chicago” back in the Weinsteins’ Miramax days.
But with frosty reviews from critics, and very little buzz since the Globe nominations in early December, salvation appears more distant by the day.
On Tuesday, a Weinstein executive said it was unclear whether “Nine” would lose some of its playdates.
An individual close to "Nine" told TheWrap that the company is protected from financial losses on the film because of $50 million in international pre-sales made over a year ago on the film, as well as a $16 million investment from Relativity staked against domestic distribution.
“At the end of the day, our films are well-positioned, the company is fine, and we’ve met all of our obligations to lenders,” said David Glasser, Weinstein’s president of international, expressing frustration at myriad press reports that he felt erroneously tied the fate of the company to “Nine.”
While a lot of importance has been placed on the performance of “Nine,” the earlier box office play of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” may have counted much more.
Weinstein had a 50 percent stake in that film, which grossed $312.6 million globally.
While company officials say a box office wipeout by “Nine” won’t doom the Weinstein Co., there’s little doubt that it could have used a box office performance closer to that of “Chicago,” which grossed $306.8 million worldwide in 2002.
Currently, the company is in talks with creditors, which include Goldman Sachs, to restructure about $500 million worth of debt. Included in those talks are provisions that would provide immediate cash so that the company can keep acquiring and producing movies — a need, financial industry pundits familiar with Weinstein say, that has become more urgent given the underperformance of “Nine.”
“It’s got to be a major blow to their strategy,” Larry Gerbrandt, principal with Media Valuation Partners, told Reuters. “(Weinstein) really needed this to work. I don’t know if the blow is fatal or not, but this is certainly a setback.”
In its current state, a company executive told TheWrap the Weinstein Co. has more than adequate cash on hand to support Friday’s launch of the Dimension-produced Michael Cera comedy “Youth in Revolt,” which will debut in more than 1,700 locations.
Recently the company has been approached to partner on acquisitions that would add to Weinstein’s slate. The partner would put up cash to acquire the additional films.
Weinstein also has awards contenders “The Road” and “A Single Man” in limited release.
The company’s next slated release, however, doesn’t come until April, when “Piranha 3D” is set to be released wide.
“Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil,” a follow-up to a 2005 animated film that made $110 million worldwide, had been slated for the first six months of 2010, but has been pulled off. No new release date has yet been announced.