According to the Washington Post, the production budget for The Weinstein Company’s “Burnt” is $20 million. That, however, doesn’t include the distribution and advertising costs involved in dropping it into more than 3,000 theaters over the weekend. What costs $20 million to produce can cost another $30 to $50 million to distribute. After theatre owners take a cut, “Burnt” will probably have to clear more than $70 to $100 million just to break even.
Regardless, on paper, until about three weeks ago, 2015 had to look pretty good to Harvey Weinstein, no matter how bad the rest of the year went. To qualify for the Academy Awards, “The Hateful Eight” hits theaters December 25 before going into wide release in early January. What Weinstein had here was a no-brainer box office sensation courtesy of Quentin Tarantino, one of the most famous and successful directors working today.
But now that sure-thing is not so sure.
And it is all due to an unforced error by the film’s biggest star: Quentin Tarantino.
Two weeks ago, in New York City, Tarantino joined a anti-cop hate rally where he smeared law enforcement officers as “murderers.” Since exposing himself as a cop-hater, the roof has caved in on what was supposed to be a carefully calibrated promotional roll-out of Tarantino’s three-hour Western. Weinstein’s secret sauce has always been his Oscar campaigns, but this campaign is being stomped on and over-shadowed (to say the least) by his director’s objectively appalling anti-police comments.
As one major police force and organization launches a “Hateful Eight” boycott, Weinstein is said to be “furious” over Tarantino’s comments.
Now that he’s about to take another huge bath in red ink with “Burnt,” Weinstein’s anger and anxiety must be red-lining. He’s bet $80 to $100 million on “The Hateful Eight,” and as of right now that bet is looking shakier than anyone imagined possible.
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