It was another busy Friday afternoon in Hollywood as news broke on a number of different fronts, but most surprising was the “resignation” of Tom Ortenberg as president of theatrical films at The Weinstein Company. Overseeing distribution and marketing for both TWC and Dimension Films, Ortenberg had only been at TWC for eight months after 12 years in a similar position at Lionsgate where he helped grow the company from a small distributor to a major player.
Ortenberg told Indiewire he asked to be released from his contract and that he would have an “additional announcement” in the near future. Considering the financial woes that have plagued the Weinsteins this year its hard to believe his “resignation” wasn’t a cost cutting move. With reportedly more layoffs in the near future at TWC, it’s hard to see how they will adequately release the three remaining films on their 2009 slate including “The Road,” “A Single Man” and “Nine.” Ironically, the news comes less than a day after brother Bob touted Dimenson’s sequel laden 2010 slate including new “Scream” and “Spy Kids” flicks. Where the talented Ortenberg goes from here is unclear, but his services will no doubt be sought out.
Another company wishing it was 2010 is MGM. The studio’s one release this year, “Fame,” received dismal reviews and all parties will be anxiously awaiting to see the weekend box office. The remake was budgeted at only $18 million and was split with Lakeshore, but a theatrical disappointment won’t help the perception the company is in trouble. In fact, MGM had to deal with a major fire yesterday when Deadline Hollywood Daily sensationalized the news of a contentious call with the company’s bond holders.
Former MGM CEO Harry Sloan resigned this summer and he didn’t leave the company in a good place. DHD reported the company told it’s bondholders it needs $20 million for short term cash flow and $150 million to keep upcoming films such as “The Hobbit” (a co-production with Warner Bros.) in the fold. Sources within MGM say this completely overstates their financial position. In fact, MGM is still in the middle of production on the “Red Dawn” remake and has two films in the can for first half of next year. They will no doubt need a cash infusion, but to say they are close to bankruptcy, as DHD insinuates, is a bit ridiculous. Plus, bankruptcy would only force the copmany to give up long standing properties such as the Bond franchise and it’s claim on “The Hobbit.” Still, the MGM peeps are no doubt counting the days till the media spotlight focus back on Disney CEO Bob Iger and his choice for a new head of the motion picture studio which was last Friday’s bombshell.
In other news, CineVegas is taking 2010 off because of economic troubles. After 11 festivals, the organization is hoping to revive the event once the recession has passed. Certainly a worrisome trend for festival fans across the country.
As for specific Oscar buzz, InContention reports that Sony Pictures Classics has decided not to release their Toronto Film Festival pick up “Get Low” this calendar year. The drama was heralded for Robert Duvall’s strong performance and the veteran was considered a strong best actor candidate. However, with a busy slate including “An Education,” “The White Ribbon,” “Broken Embraces” and “A Prophet,” SPC is deciding to release in 2010 to give the film the attention it truly deserves. Honestly, it’s the best move for all parties involved.
And with that, Hollywood wipes its brow and hopes the town cools down both literally and figuratively this weekend.