The Weinstein Co. on Tuesday canceled Friday’s release of its transgender drama “About Ray” just three days before it planned to roll out the film starring Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon.
“About Ray,” which played to mixed reviews last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, was seen as a potential awards contender. It will most likely instead be released later this year, and still qualify for Oscar and award consideration.
The mixed Toronto reception and the presence of another transgender awards contender, Focus Features’ “The Danish Girl,” may have driven the decision. The Eddie Redmayne drama won raves from critics at Toronto for his portrayal of pioneering transgender artist Lili Elbe.
TWC acquired “About Ray,” originally titled “Three Generations,” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for a relatively steep $6 million. In Gaby Dellal’s film, Susan Sarandon plays a lesbian grandmother and Naomi Watts is mom to a 17-year-old teenager transitioning from female to male, played by Elle Fanning.
As TheWrap reported last month, questions have been swirling in Hollywood about TWC’s cash situation. Multiple vendors have complained about not being paid, and TWC earlier pushed two August releases — “Underdogs” and “Shanghai” — just days before they were to debut.
Company co-founder Harvey Weinstein told TheWrap this was a temporary issue because of the cash demands of releasing multiple movies in a row in the first half of the year.
“I’ve been dealing with this for 30 years. Put six films out together for an independent film company, there will be a moment with tough cash flow,” he said.
But Harvey and his brother and co-chairman Bob are due for new contracts and also negotiating with the board of directors, while at the same time dealing with the loss of several key executives. COO David Glasser announced in August that he was leaving, but reversed himself recently and will stay.
But the company has recently lost Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, the heads of the niche unit Radius as well as production VP Julie Rapaport, president of production and acquisitions Dylan Sellers and president of television Meryl Poster.
Despite all that, TWC’s awards lineup look solid.
The tale of a troubled chef, “Burnt,” starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, will open on October 23. And “Carol,” Todd Haynes‘ lesbian romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, debuts on November 20. “Macbeth,” starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, debuts on December 4.
But the best bet for commercial success, and possibly awards consideration, will be director Quentin Tarantino‘s Western “The Hateful Eight,” which is set for Christmas Day.