Last Friday, very very quietly, the Weinstein Company hired a financial consultant to help them restructure their finances and get out of a heck of a lot of debt. Even though the studio ran a successful Oscar campaign for both The Reader and Vicky Cristina Barcelona last fall, prompting announcements of "Harvey is back in the game!", the studio hasn't had a substantial hit in years. Oscars don't come with cash prizes.

Now Nikki Finke has written an article summarizing what everyone pretty much assumed: the Weinsteins really, really need Inglourious Basterds to be a hit. But things might be so bad for them that they don't even have the money to properly promote the movie. Finke reports that the Weinsteins are meeting with Universal, which is distributing the film internationally, to talk about ways to finance a marketing campaign for the film.

The Weinstein is already delaying the release of other films it had slated for the summer and fall, including All Good Things and Shanhai, presumably to pool all its resources for Basterds. Everyone is still operating under the assumption that the Weinsteins can come up with the $30 million or so that it will cost to market Basterds. But Universal may have to be poised to take things over if it gets too bad.

The lukewarm response out of Cannes doesn't suggest that Basterds will be a giant hit, but it does have Tarantino and Brad Pitt going for it. The two of them are going to have to equal a huge box office response, though, if the Weinsteins plan to dig themselves out of this hole. Harvey and Bob haven't been a giant force in the industry since they left Miramax. Could this be the end at last?

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