Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said Thursday he believes the low Oscar-nomination count for “Cold Mountain” was due in part to stories in the U.S. press attacking the moviemakers’ decision to shoot the U.S. Civil War drama in Europe and not America.
Weinstein, who jetted in to support the Anthony Minghella-directed story, which opened the Berlin International Film Festival, hinted that there had been a whispering campaign against the production because the filmmakers chose to shoot largely in lower-cost Romania.
Said Weinstein: “I’m proud of ‘Cold Mountain’ being a European film. The movie has done $80 million at the U.S. box office so far and is on its way to $100 million. But I think it (being shot in Romania) did hurt us with the Academy (voters).”
Weinstein stopped short of calling it a boycott by voters but said negative press may have resulted in “a move to deny the movie awards.” The film received seven Oscar nominations, but not in the key best picture and director categories.
Said Minghella: “There has been a reaction in America and a real campaign to stop movies leaving America to shoot.”
While Minghella said he understood the criticism, he defended his decision to shoot in Romania on economic terms. “It was a choice between making the movie (outside America) or not,” he said. “We still spent nearly $20 million in the U.S.”
Weinstein also attacked what he called American “discrimination” against European films and cited an example of how few are seen in the United States.
“We believe in European quotas because European movies are discriminated against in America,” Weinstein said. “The major networks in America have not shown one single European movie in 25 years.”
Stars were no showsThe news conference saw Weinstein face down a question on why the movie’s three principal stars — Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger — failed to travel for the evening’s gala.
He said Law and Zellweger are shooting movies in London, and Kidman had returned to Australia because of a “family situation.”
Weinstein said he had offered to buy out the production of “Closer,” which Law is shooting, in order to secure the actor’s presence in Berlin.
“You know my reputation,” Weinstein joked. “If I couldn’t get them out (to Berlin), nobody could.”
He played down any suggestion that the stars weren’t supporting the movie’s European rollout, which begins Monday on a release tour of the continent’s capitals. Law and Zellweger will be traveling with the film, while Kidman is gearing up to do satellite interviews upon her return to New York.
Other attendees at the news conference included the movie’s Philip Seymour Hoffman and Brendan Gleeson.