5 - 1
Perhaps no filmmaker before or since has tussled with Weinstein and “won” like Billy Bob Thornton. Desperate for something to guarantee his end of the year Awards season showing, Harvey ‘overpaid’ for this Southern Gothic classic, then immediately got nervous and was struck with a massive case of “buyer’s remorse.” He demanded 20 minutes be taken out, but Thornton had already negotiated final cut.
An epic standoff ensued, with Sling Blade eventually going out unaltered and winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Some who saw Weinstein’s ‘secret’ revision of the final film, however, reluctantly admit that it might actually have been better than Thorntons.
Asian auteur Stephen Chow was a relative unknown when Miramax bought this brilliant martial arts sports comedy cartoon special effects mash-up. Fewer got to see the filmmaker’s final cut once Harvey and his typical “20 minutes” mandate started interfering. In fact, many believe that said stated time frame is a go to move for the man looking to “please Peoria”. As a result, some subplots were excised and the film redubbed into English.
While it was a minor hit in America, Shaolin Soccer would soon be surpassed by Chow’s masterful Kung Fu Hustle, which would also be edited (not by Weinstein, however) for home video release.
Otherwise known as Harvey’s revenge. Thanks to an option in his deal for Sling Blade, Miramax had a stake in Billy Bob Thornton’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s acclaimed All the Pretty Horses. While Columbia was actually the main studio involved, Harvey’s hands were in the mix, as well.
When Thronton delivered a near four hour cut, everyone went ballistic and Weinstein stepped in to “support” the filmmaker. Then he got his payback, citing a clause in the contract that make it clear that Thornton’s “final cut” could only be two hours or less. The final version is 116 minutes and is considered a travesty by all involved.
Wong Kar-wai is considered a major international movie figure. His films 2046, Chungking Express, and In the Mood for Love are often hailed as modern classics. So naturally his movies would make it to the big screen without Weinstein’s meddling, right? Wrong.
After viewing the director’s 130 minute edit and then a 123 minute version that played at the Berlin Film Festival, Harvey hacked away, turning the narrative more linear and adding explanatory text for ‘clueless’ American audiences. Wong went on the defensive, saying he just wanted what was best for the movie, but critics complained that Weinstein’s “watered down” version destroyed the original’s vision.
After the one-two punch of Goodfellas and Casino, audiences were eager to see Martin Scorsese return to his crime film roots. So when Gangs of New York was announced, everyone got excited. Then they learned it was an epic period piece about the influx of Irish immigrants to New York in the mid-19th century and the political corruption of the time.
After delivering a staggering three hour and 36 minute cut to Weinstein, the battle ensued. Release dates were missed and negative buzz began building. Harvey eventually hacked an hour out of the run time, feeling vindicated when the movie went on to earn ten Oscar nominations. However, it didn’t win a single one.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.