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Sundance 2011: Harvey Weinstein again goes celebrity

January 25, 2011 | 10:22 pm

Details
When the screening of Tobey Maguire's "The Details" ended last night, Harvey Weinstein could be seen in the lobby of the Eccles Theater making a beeline for the film's producers. It was a similar reaction  to the one he had after the screening of Paul Rudd's "My Idiot Brother" on Saturday --  a film that, like "The Details," he wound up buying for a pretty penny.

The Weinstein Company on Tuesday acquired worldwide rights to "The Details," a black comedy from Jacob Aaron Estes, for a sum estimated to be between $7 and $8 million. It's a similar deal to the one Weinstein made for "Brother" -- in both, Harvey dug deeper into his pockets than distributors have dug for a long time, agreeing to a significant marketing commitment as well as a minimum guarantee for the right to distribute a star-heavy movie.

For a while it looked like Harvey's resurgence on the awards circuit -- "The King's Speech," which garnered 12 Oscar nominations on Tuesday, has grossed $58 million -- would embolden him to do more in that world. Awards films are, after all, how he made his name. But at Sundance a different picture is emerging: that of a Weinstein Company using its newfound riches on more conventionally commercial movies. (On this you can also toss in "I Don't Know How She Does It,'" a Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy the company is currently shooting in New York.)

It remains to be seen whether "Idiot" or "Details" will prove successful in the wider world beyond Sundance. But when it comes to the next phase of the Weinstein Company, it's looking to be as much about contemporary comedies as it is period dramas.

--Steven Zeitchik, reporting from Park City, Utah

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 Photo: 'The Details.' Credit: Sundance Film Festival

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