Harvey Weinstein is throwing in the towel on the lavishly produced movie “Nine,” making it one of the biggest bombs of 2009 after the musical finished in eighth place during its second week out in the face of mediocre reviews.
The film follows an Italian movie director through a mid-life career and personal crisis, due largely to his entanglements with various women. Two-time Oscar winner Day-Lewis plays the film director Guido Contini.
It opened in limited U.S. release on Dec. 18 and expanded to 1,400 screens for Christmas.
But in the wake of its poor performance, the Weinstein Company says it will pull the movie out of almost half its theaters, leaving it to play on 800 to 900 screens in mostly big cities.
“The movie’s doing well in those areas and obviously in some smaller cities, it was not doing as well,” David Glasser, an operations executive for the independent Weinstein Company told Reuters. Glasser said he is hoping for a better showing in the weeks a head.
“Nine” was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and cost an estimated $64 million to produce. Its failure is likely to keep Hollywood tongues wagging for some time to come.
Weinstein was forced to restructure his cash-strapped independent production company earlier this year and had a lot riding on the movie.
The film scored some early award nominations and even won the blessing of talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who did a special on her show that featured most of the stars.
Typically an endorsement from Oprah is box office gold, and Weinstein has had a knack for spinning early award nominations into success for previous projects.
But the Rob Marshall adaptation of Maury Yeston’s Tony-winning musical of the same name, was a stinker. It finished eighth in North America on its second week out last weekend with a modest $5.5 million in ticket sales.
What’s more, the box office declined by 8 percent nationwide as the weekend progressed. It also failed to finish in the top five over the Christmas Holiday weekend as many movie industry watchers had predicted.
Fantasy sci-fi film “Avatar” topped the box office followed by Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes.”
The poor showing came despite five Golden Globe nominations and two Screen Actors Guild nominations. But critics had a field day with the picture. It scored a 37 percent approval rating at rottentomatoes.com, which rates films based on reviews.
Given its track record on Broadway, the movie also seemed like a sure winner in the mold of “Chicago,” a Broadway musical that became a big screen success in 2003.
Nine premiered on Broadway in 1982, starring Raul Julia, Anita Morris and Karen Akers, and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. A 2003 revival with Antonio Banderas, Chita Rivera, Jane Krakowski and Mary Stuart Masterson, also won two Tonys.
“It’s got to be a major blow to their strategy,” said Larry Gerbrandt, principal with Media Valuation Partners. “[Weinstein] really needed this to work. I don’t know if the blow is fatal or not, but this is certainly a setback.”