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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Baby Dragon Dynasty: Weinsteinco faces East

baby dragon49265.jpgNo word on what it means for the unreleased product from Miramax days such as Tears of the Black Dragon, or the recent acquisition of distrib rights to the Tartan USA Asian-themed catalog, QTpie-eyed237408.jpgbut Weinsteinco’s introduced at Cannes a whole new pile-up of a label they’re dubbing “Dragon Dynasty,” “the dynamic new label under which all The Weinstein Company’s Asian titles will be released,” Forty-three titles come from Fortune Star Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation‘s STAR Group, “which owns the world’s largest contemporary Chinese language feature film library,” fifty Shaw Brothers productions, as well as John Woo’s The Killer, Hardboiled, Bullet in the Head, and A Better Tomorrow and A Better Tomorrow 2. And wouncha know? “Quentin Tarantino, who is well recognized for his passionate interest and broad knowledge of Asian cinema, will actively work with the Weinsteins in all aspects of brand development for Dragon Dynasty.” [A slightly edited version of the P.R. is below.]

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (May 23, 2006) – Continuing their passionate dedication to bringing Asian films to American audiences, Bob and Harvey Weinstein are proud to announce the unveiling of Dragon Dynasty, the dynamic new label under which all The Weinstein Company’s Asian titles will be released, including “Ong Bak 2,” “The Protector” (aka “Tom Yum Goong”), “Born to Fight,” “SPL,” “Seven Swords,” and “Dragon Squad,” as well as a package of high profile titles, which was licensed from Fortune Star Entertainment: the distribution division of News Corporation’s STAR Group which owns the world’s largest contemporary Chinese language feature film library.
The 43 Fortune Star titles, together with a special collection of 50 classic Shaw Brothers’ movies and a number of independent acquisitions, including John Woo’s seminal productions, “The Killer,” “Hardboiled,” “Bullet in the Head,” and “A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2,” combine to make The Weinstein Company the leader in Asian Cinema in North America.
Quentin Tarantino, who is well recognized for his passionate interest and broad knowledge of Asian cinema, will actively work with the Weinsteins in all aspects of brand development for Dragon Dynasty.
The Weinstein Company’s Dragon Dynasty library already includes films starring some of Asia’s hottest actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh and Sammo Hung, as well as titles from legendary filmmakers John Woo, Yuen Woo-ping and Corey Yuen Kwai, amongst others. The company has ambitious plans to continue building the library, and will be acquiring titles across all genres of Asian film such as contemporary action, martial arts, epic swordplay and hi-octane thriller. The titles selected for theatrical distribution will be released by The Weinstein Company, and all home video output will be managed by Genius Products, Inc. (OTCBB: GNPI).
The Weinsteins originally acquired the collection of Shaw Brothers’ movies during their tenure at Miramax Films and brought the titles with them to The Weinstein Company as part of their settlement agreement with the Walt Disney Studios.
The Weinstein Company will redefine the presentation of Asian Cinema on DVD, and is developing a number of Special Edition packages for its new brand, including 2-Disc Platinum Editions of Jet Li’s world-acclaimed “Fist of Legend” and “Tai Chi Master”. Each Dragon Dynasty DVD will possess a unique and carefully crafted identity, and will include many groundbreaking, informative and exclusive special bonus features such as rare behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, out-takes, and specially commissioned documentaries and interviews featuring cast members, filmmakers and celebrity enthusiasts of Asian film.
Peter Poon, General Manager of Fortune Star, stated, “Fortune Star is excited to work with TWC and their specialized team in bringing our popular titles at the highest quality for DVD release to the US market. The launch of Dragon Dynasty will be a tremendous boost to the Asian Cinema as it will now have a more powerful access to the American audiences.”
Donnie Yen stated, “I’m delighted that my film SPL will be one of the lead titles for Dragon Dynasty. Harvey has put a great team together for the brand, and I look forward to collaborating with them on the upcoming release of Seven Swords. Finally, we Asian action film-makers have a proper platform to present our work to the international audience.”
Sammo Hung stated, “I hope this new label brings more fans to our films, so that we have an even bigger audience in the future. I’m very happy to see SPL, Dragon Squad and some of my older films released by Dragon Dynasty. I’m a heavy hitter myself, and its good to see TWC throwing its weight behind our industry!”
Harvey Weinstein stated, “Bob and I are extremely passionate about Asian Cinema and have always been enormous fans of Asian filmmakers from Akira Kurosawa to John Woo. We started building a library of Asian titles years ago and hope to continue adding to it for years to come. Bob and I are proud to launch Dragon Dynasty and hope to continue bringing Asian cinema the recognition it deserves. Alan Bergman and the Disney team have been incredibly cooperative with the collection of Shaw Brothers’ movies.”
Brian White stated, “I am really excited to be building the Dragon Dynasty brand with Harvey and Bob. Their passion and dedication to the genre is really quite extraordinary, and our collective goal is to produce imaginative, visually-dynamic, feature-laden DVD titles, which are designed to take the presentation of the genre to a new level of excellence, and bring to the widest possible audience all that is special and unique in the World of Asian Cinema.”
The Weinsteins also announced today that Brian White has been named Director of Asian Brand Management and Post-production for The Weinstein Company’s Dragon Dynasty. Brian White will work closely with Hong Kong based Executive Vice President of Asian Acquisitions and Co-production, Bey Logan, on all Asian acquisitions, on identifying projects for Dragon Dynasty, and will be charged with overseeing all aspects of the new brand. White will also be responsible for all creative aspects of the development and construction of the Dragon Dynasty DVD titles. White is based in London, and will report to both Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
Prior to The Weinstein Company, White served as Brand Manager and DVD Producer at Contender Entertainment Group and with Medusa Communications & Marketing Ltd. As brand architect, White played a pivotal role in the creation of the acclaimed Hong Kong Legends label in 1999 with Medusa Communications & Marketing Ltd, before launching sister label Premier Asia, a brand dedicated to the cinema of Japan, Korea and Thailand, in 2003. As a Brand Manager, he was instrumental to the ongoing commercial success of Hong Kong Legends and Premier Asia, spearheading the acquisition, marketing and PR strategies, and creating a unique ‘positioning strategy’ for the brands, which generated millions of units sold. As a DVD Producer, White has produced over 120 DVD titles for Hong Kong Legends, Medusa, Premier Asia, and Contender Home Entertainment Group. Beginning in 1999, working with the team at Medusa, he also pioneered a restoration program for the classics of Hong Kong Cinema, including the Golden Harvest Bruce Lee titles, thus creating a new benchmark standard for the presentation of Asian Cinema titles on DVD.
The Weinsteins have been involved with many highly acclaimed and financially successful Asian titles in the past including the record box office hit “Hero,” the Academy Award nominee “Farewell my Concubine,” “Iron Monkey,” the animated hit “Princess Mononoke,” the Japanese version of “Shall we Dance,” Jet Li’s “The Master,” “Twin Warriors,” “The Enforcer,” “The Legend of the Swordsman,” “The Legend,” “The Legend II,” and “Fist of Legend,” Shaolin Soccer,” starring Stephen Chow, “The Accidental Spy,” “The Legend of Drunken Master,” “Twin Dragons,” “Operation Condor,” “Supercop 1 and 2,” all starring Jackie Chan, along with “Temptress Moon,” and “Chungking Express,” among many others.
Fortune Star Entertainment is the feature film and television programming, production, and distribution division of STAR, Asia’s leading media and entertainment company. Fortune Star distributes the world’s largest contemporary Chinese language feature film library, including over 600 titles featuring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and renowned filmmakers John Woo, Yuen Woo Ping and Ronny Yu. Fortune Star also distributes STAR’s television library of over 20,000 hours of top-rated Indian and Chinese programming. Fortune Star produces feature films and high-definition movies and will be developing new content businesses including wireless platform. Some of the titles acquired for Dragon Dynasty from Fortune Star includes “Police Story”, “Police Story 2”, “Crime Story,” starring Jackie Chan, “Royal Tramp 1” and “Royal Tramp 2,” starring Stephen Chow (“Shaolin Soccer,” “Kung Fu Hustle”), “Millionaires Express,” starring Sammo Hung (from the television show “Martial Law”), “Righting Wrongs / Above the Law,” directed by acclaimed action-director Corey Yuen, and “Love Asia,” Fortune Star produced with and starring Maggie Q (“Mission Impossible 3”).
The Celestial Shaw Brothers’ library encompasses approximately 760 films, including the world’s largest collection of Chinese-language motion pictures and many classics of Hong Kong cinema, which have all gone through a state-of-the-art digital restoration process. Many of the world’s most famous Chinese actors and directors worked at Shaw and the library represents the legacy of legendary impresario Sir Run Run Shaw. Some of The Weinstein Company’s Shaw Brother’s titles include “36th Chamber of Shaolin,” “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter,” and “Heroes of the East,” all starring Gordon Liu (“Kill Bill”), “King Boxer,” the first Hong Kong movie ever to be a worldwide theatrical hit, “Martial Arts of Shaolin,” a classic title from Jet Li, “Come Drink With Me,” starring Cheng Pei-pei (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).
Genius Products, Inc. (OTCBB:GNPI), produces and distributes an ever-expanding library of home entertainment products including DVDs and CDs. Sold in retail outlets nationwide under such well-known brands as Wellspring, Sundance Channel Home EntertainmentT, NBC News, and Baby Genius®, the company’s products are distributed through the Genius Products Branded Distribution Network, an extensive, proprietary distribution network that extends throughout the U.S. to mass, drugstore, supermarket and specialty retailers. Genius Products recently released on home video The Weinstein Company smash hits, HOODWINKED, the animated family comedy which ranked #1 in consumer sales in its debut week, DERAILED, starring Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen, which ranked #1 in rentals in its debut week, and WOLF CREEK, an Australian horror film, DOOGAL, a comical animated adventure with the voices of Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and William H. Macy; as well as the Oscar nominated film, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins.
Genius Products boasts a premiere management team comprised of seasoned executives, formerly with major Hollywood studios, who have steered the company into the forefront of the industry through their landmark exclusive distribution deal with The Weinstein Company.
Upcoming films planned for release by Genius Products include films by The Weinstein Company such as THE MATADOR, starring Pierce Brosnan; TRANSAMERICA, starring Felicity Huffman; David Zucker’s hilarious new sequel, SCARY MOVIE 4; and THE LIBERTINE, starring Johnny Depp. Potential new releases include a sequel to SIN CITY, SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS, CLERKS II and the highly anticipated film BOBBY.
The Weinstein Company (TWC) was created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films Corporation in 1979. TWC is a multi-media company that officially launched on October 1, 2005. Dimension Films, the genre label that was founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, is also included under the TWC banner.
Since launching on October 1, 2005, The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films have released “Derailed,” “Wolf Creek,” “Transamerica,” “The Matador,” “The Libertine,” “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” “Hoodwinked,” “Doogal” and “Scary Movie 4.”
“Lucky Number Slevin,” a Weinstein Company presentation, was released on April 7th by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM).
Upcoming Weinstein Company films to be domestically distributed in theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) are; “Clerks II,” the sequel to writer/director Kevin Smith’s 1994 Sundance favorite “Clerks;” “Stormbreaker,” based on the 1st book in the Alex Rider teenage superspy series by best selling author Anthony Horowitz; “Bobby,” the political-culture drama with an all star ensemble cast; “Breaking & Entering,” by Academy Award winning director Anthony Minghella, starring Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn and Vera Farmiga; “Killshot,” from Academy Award winning director John Madden starring Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson, and Johnny Knoxville; and “Miss Potter,” the Beatrix Potter biopic.
Other upcoming films to be released by The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films include: “Pulse,” a remake of a Japanese horror film starring Kristen Bell, Christina Milian, and Ian Somerhalder; “DOA: Dead or Alive,” based on Tecmo’s best-selling “Dead or Alive” videogame franchise; “School for Scoundrels,” a hilarious remake of the classic 1959 comedy directed by Todd Phillips and starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder; “Superhero!” a spoof on the latest trend of comic-book inspired films; and “Grind House,” a groundbreaking film that will unite two of the world’s most legendary filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
During the Weinsteins’ tenure at Miramax Films the company released some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful independent feature films, including fifteen Best Picture nominations and three Best Pictures of the Year for “The English Patient,” Shakespeare In Love” and “Chicago.” The films, which received 249 Academy Award® nominations and won 60 Oscars®, have generated billions of dollars in worldwide box office receipts and billions more in home video sales. In its history, Dimension Films has released some of the most successful franchises including “Scream,” “Spy Kids” and “Scary Movie.”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon