- Associated Press - Thursday, November 24, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - While Harvey Weinstein has no plans to roar like the MGM lion before each of his movies, the Oscar-winning producer wants to turn the film studio bearing his family’s name into a recognizable brand. His wish list includes branding on par with Facebook’s F, Twitter’s T and Apple’s, well, apple.

While he says he will continue to use the “the black and white logo that looks like it’s from high school in 1954,” he’s letting his films this week do the talking _ or at least one of them.

Already in theaters is “My Week with Marilyn,” starring two-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. It’s based on the writings of Colin Clark, who spent a week with the iconic actress in 1957 while she was filming “The Prince and the Showgirl” in the United Kingdom.

Weinstein, who heads The Weinstein Co. with his brother, explained the subject matter’s appeal to him.

“I wanted to be that 23-year old boy and spend a week with Marilyn Monroe and go skinny-dipping,” Weinstein said Wednesday. “Haven’t we all dreamed of being with someone that gorgeous?”

But this is not another Monroe biopic. Weinstein calls it “a snapshot movie about one episode in her life.” He equates the film’s tone with his 2010 Oscar winner for best picture, “The King’s Speech,” about a speech therapist who helps King George VI.

With production credits in such Broadway hits as “Billy Elliot,” “The Producers” and “God of Carnage,” Weinstein always has his eyes on Broadway. He admits it’s a dream to bring “My Week with Marilyn” to the great stage in “five to 10 years.” And when that happens, he has his heart set on seeing Monroe played by singer Katy Perry, whom he met while taking his daughters to the annual Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden last year.

“I think Katy would be perfect to play Marilyn Monroe,” Weinstein said, adding: “She would knock it out of the universe.”

Weinstein’s other new film, “The Artist,” which comes out Friday, is a modern homage to the silent film era and was the darling of the Cannes and Toronto International film festivals. It was shot in black and white using the original 4:3 aspect ratio.

While the film is not your typical studio release, Weinstein doesn’t concern himself with such things.

“With a script or a book I try to do what would appeal to me,” he says proudly. “I’m not here to do the mainstream movies.”

And the results are promising. Weinstein likes the buzz both films are getting, but his source isn’t what you’d expect: It’s the RottenTomatoes.com website, which compiles reviews and assigns percentage scores based on the average.

“I just go to Rotten Tomatoes to check on who’s writing, and I read some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes,” he said. “I like the site. It’s fun. I like the interviews on the site.”

Weinstein was proud to report Wednesday the Monroe film was at 85 percent. And “The Artist” was trending a bit higher, based on reviews going back to April, when it played at Cannes.

“I wish I could brand the movies in a way so they would just look at the page and trust me rather than a critic or anything else,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein has been seeking advice from firms like Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton about how consumers recognize their products. Oddly enough, he’s not expecting to recreate that Columbia Pictures lady with the torch. The iconic Leo the Lion has become synonymous with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Weinstein says that while the lion is a powerful symbol, he’s not seeking that type of message. Nor is he shy about the brand.

“The thing about MGM and why it doesn’t work at the end of the day is because they would make great musicals and then they would make Andy Hardy movies, or they would make Tarzan movies, so you never know what you got at MGM.

“I’m pretty consistent, at least on my side of the fence, with making a certain, you know, they call it artistic, it’s really not, but something that is just a little more literary in its approach.”

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Online:

http://weinsteinco.com/

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John Carucci covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/jcarucci_ap