Harvey Weinstein talks US-Franco filmmaking cooperation at Champs-Elysées Film Festival in Paris.

Harvey Weinstein gave out some unexpected advice to France during a round-table on cooperation between the US and French film industries on Thursday: “Don’t give us an independent co-production treaty”.

“I know it’s crazy for an American to say this,” Weinstein told the panel hosted by the Champs-Elysées Film Festival in Paris. “Here’s my feeling. We already impose our culture too much. I come to Paris. I put on the television and I see John Wayne in French 20 times a day. Enough already.”

“When we start showing Jacques Rivette movies on NBC instead of American Idol then give us a co-production deal,” he continued. “Trust me, it will never happen. This is not the style of the United States. We like to sell our culture. Protect yourselves. There won’t not be a French movie industry if you give us a treaty.”

France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC) has signed some 60 co-production treaties since its creation including with key filmmaking territories such as China and India, but not with United States. 

Weinstein was talking at a roundtable on how French and U.S. producers can cooperate.

Some 20 top French industry figures attended, including Sammy and Victor Hadida of Metropolitan Filmexport, whose more recent U.S.-based co-productions include Andrew Dominik’s Cannes screener Killing Them Softly; TF1 International managing director Daniel Preljocaj, who is steering the group towards producing more U.S.-style fare, and Fabrice Denizot, chief marketing officer at Paris-based Europacorp, which recently announced a U.S co-production deal with Relativity Media.

If Weinstein was suggesting the French should safeguard its film industry, the French producers, for their part, seemed to have no qualms about adopting America’s free-market approach.

“When you work with Americans… you have to work with an American mentality. It is completely different from working here,” commented Sammy Hadida. “You have to stop thinking about what will get you the subsidy and rather what will work with the audience… you have to get into the spirit of the market.”

Weinstein is guest of honour at the inaugural edition of the Champs-Elysées Film Festival in Paris, which kicked off on Wednesday (June 6).

The 60-year-old industry veteran has become a household name in France follow his engineering of The Artist and lead actor Jean Dujardin’s Oscar triumphs earlier this year. Following the Academy Award victory he was awarded France’s Legion of Honour.

There is a talk that Weinstein is now hoping to achieve the same success with Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s Untouchables (Les Intouchables), which The Weinstein Company has launched in theatres in the United States this month.

Weinstein confirmed on Thursday that director Paul Feig and actor Colin Firth remained attached to a project for an English-language remake of the film. He added that he was also discussing other projects with The Artist producer Thomas Langmann as well as the Untouchablesproducers at Quad.

Talking generally about producing and distributing independent films on either side of the Atlantic, Weinstein said producers had to remain “disciplined” to make smart films with audience appeal and then innovative and organised in their promotion of a production once it was made.

Referring to the motto of his former company Miramax he said, “It’s taken from a novel by Kurt Vonnegut. It reads ‘Good can triumph over evil if the angels are as organised as the mafia’. The angels at Metropolitan and Wild Bunch are as organised as the mafia… today you have to work and be innovative and make things happen, if you want to succeed.”