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Few movies this summer have been as eagerly anticipated in film circles as “Inglourious Basterds,” the bizarrely spelled new film from Quentin Tarantino.

If it succeeds, it will be seen as a return to form for one of America’s most famous auteurs. If it fails, it could bring the film’s distributors Harvey and Bob Weinstein closer to their downfall. As many in the film business see it, this makes for a win-win proposition.

This story first appeared in the August 19, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Monday night, the Cinema Society and Hugo Boss hosted a “don’t call it a New York premiere” screening in Chelsea, New York, and everyone seemed aware the stakes were high. “It is what it is,” Tarantino said when asked how he felt about the perception the future of his distributors was riding on the film’s performance. “That said, I’m very proud of the movie, they’re proud of the movie, so we’ll see what happens.”

How had Harvey Weinstein felt about a 4,900-word piece in Sunday’s New York Times, spelling out the duress he and his company are under? “Fantastic,” he told The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove as he made his way into the theater. (He did not stop to elaborate.)

Lawrence Bender, the film’s producer, said he did not understand the schadenfreude surrounding the Weinsteins. “The business needs them,” he said. Still, he professed not to be worried for his studio or the film. For one, he said, “It’s tracking really well.” For another, he said, with a smile, “The movie rocks.”

After guests piled into the packed auditorium, Tarantino made his way to the front and began riling up the crowd. “Are you ready to see some bastards,” he boomed. “I said, ‘Are you ready to see some bastards f— up some Nazis? Come on New York! I can’t hear you motherf—ers.” Those New Yorkers included Marc Jacobs, Catherine Keener, André Balazs, Gina Gershon, and Chace Crawford, who all made their way over to the Standard Hotel after for a glitzy post-screening party.

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