An Assist for Weinstein’s ‘Mandela’

December 7th, 2013

LOS ANGELES — Harvey Weinstein is a master at making use of publicity to create excitement about his videos, no matter whether that indicates ginning up a controversy or concocting a cultural tie-in.

Keith Bernstein/Weinstein Business

Idris Elba, remaining, and Tony Kgoroge in the new “Mandela: Extended Walk to Flexibility.”

This time the PR came to him.

The demise of Nelson Mandela on Thursday night time eerily coincided with the Weinstein Company’s launch of the biopic “Mandela: Prolonged Wander to Independence.” The movie was getting its London premiere — attended by two of Mr. Mandela’s daughters — when information shops 1st documented his death. And in the United States, some Oscar voters located in Thursday’s mail a “for your consideration” DVD of the movie. “Long Wander to Freedom” arrived in 4 theaters previous weekend and will increase nationally on Christmas Day. An advert marketing campaign is in total motion television spots, for instance, ran for the duration of Thursday night time basketball on TNT.

As significantly prospect as Mr. Mandela’s demise presents “Long Walk to Liberty,” it also could complicate plans Mr. Weinstein has for promoting the film, possibly as a should-see movie or as an Oscar hopeful. A famously unsubtle impresario, Mr. Weinstein has a refined line to walk: nurturing his investment decision but not looking as if he have been making an attempt to income in on the loss of life of a beloved historic determine.

Considering that Mr. Mandela’s demise, the Weinstein Organization has turned down requests from theater homeowners to pace up the launch of the film, a spokeswoman said.

Mr. Weinstein said in an electronic mail, “Our release plan has not modified from the working day we established it in March to now.”

Sudden worldwide fascination in Mr. Mandela’s lifestyle previously would seem to be assisting “Long Walk to Freedom” at the box workplace. The on-line ticket vendor Fandango.com mentioned progress sales accelerated soon after the previous South African president’s loss of life.

And it may also give the film a increase on the Oscar path. The movie, which was in improvement for far more than fifteen a long time and was in the end directed by Justin Chadwick, has received sharply combined reviews. Nevertheless it is a conceivable contender in the categories of very best actor, best supporting actress and greatest tune, “Ordinary Love,”by U2.

“Voters only have time to watch so numerous of these videos,” stated Scott Feinberg, a longtime Oscar prognosticator who writes for The Hollywood Reporter. “In terms of motivating Academy customers to at minimum see the film, this can only aid.”

Mr. Feinberg included: “An argument will be made that a vote for ‘Mandela’ will be a vote for the individual. I’m not saying that is necessarily legitimate, but I’m particular that argument will be created.”

Film historians could not remember a minute of this sort of morbidly uncanny timing. “Nothing, definitely absolutely nothing, comes to head,” explained the writer and critic Leonard Maltin. The closest example some cinema historians could offer you was the demise of Ray Charles a couple of months right after the theatrical release of “Ray” in 2004, supplying an inadvertent improve to its DVD.

“Long Wander to Freedom” is just the most recent in a string of movies that have explored Mr. Mandela’s life and occupation. Based mostly on Mr. Mandela’s autobiography and starring Idris Elba, the motion picture attempts to distinguish alone by such as some of his early, not-so-good habits. Naomie Harris plays Mr. Mandela’s fiery ex-spouse, Winnie.

Snarky comments about the timing of Mr. Mandela’s loss of life and the launch of “Long Wander to Freedom” immediately began circulating in Hollywood, the place Mr. Weinstein’s publicity instincts are the two admired and scorned. In an indicator of the tightrope he faces, a mini-controversy broke out on Twitter after a blogger, Nikki Finke, tweeted a comment linking Mr. Mandela’s dying with the movie.

Some Hollywood insiders have speculated that Mr. Weinstein purchased the legal rights to “Long Stroll to Freedom” in February partly simply because he noticed an prospect in Mr. Mandela’s failing well being. “Not at all,” a Weinstein spokeswoman stated on Friday. “When we observed the footage, we all fell in love with it.”

In a phone job interview, the director, Mr. Chadwick, stated marketing and advertising for his movie would not modify based on Mr. Mandela’s death. He remaining open up the possibility that he may well add a handful of terms to the end of his movie, acknowledging Mr. Mandela’s dying, but said that he was leaning towards leaving it alone.

“This movie honors his legacy, so I consider it stands as it is,” Mr. Chadwick mentioned.

He stated he spoke to one particular of Mr. Mandela’s daughters, Zindzi, on Friday and questioned her, “What do we do now?”

“She instructed me,” he additional, “ ‘Be happy of the film that you manufactured and carry on to share it with the entire world. My father would want that.”

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