LOS ANGELES, April 11 — As last weekend’s box-office take for the heavily promoted “Grindhouse” tumbled in at just $11.6 million, a chilly realization came with the numbers: Not all is well with the Weinstein Company.
A scene from “Death Proof,” part of “Grindhouse.”
Indeed, the namesake entertainment boutique founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein as they acrimoniously left Miramax and the Walt Disney Company two years ago has seen its highly visible movie operation suffer humiliations that might have sunk a less tenacious start-up.
Marquee filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, with “Grindhouse,” and Anthony Minghella, with “Breaking and Entering,” have tanked. Michael Moore has yet to unveil “Fahrenheit 9/11.5” and “Sicko,” a pair of films that were supposed to yield tens of millions of dollars in profit by now.
Meanwhile, “Factory Girl” and “Shut Up and Sing” had plenty of media sizzle as last year’s awards season got going, but they missed the Oscars and sold barely $3 million in tickets between them.
“It could be better, obviously,” said Bob Weinstein, speaking by telephone from New York. “Our drive and ambition are to be better than perhaps we’ve been.”
Yet Mr. Weinstein was also markedly buoyant, insisting that the ministudio had not so much failed in its aims as succeeded in ways not widely understood. If “Grindhouse” had people asking “ ‘Wow, what’s going on with the Weinstein Company?’ ” he said, “I’ll use the opportunity to say, ‘Wow, the kids are all right.’ ”
More to the point, Mr. Weinstein described a strategic shift that, only shortly after its birth, began transforming the Weinstein Company. Instead of acting as a minor league film producer and distributor, exposed to market risk and filmmaker whims, the brothers are trying to create a somewhat less minor media conglomerate, one that may be equipped to survive the vicissitudes of show business.