The Weinstein Co.’s debt load is being restructured and the media handicappers are taking shots. Things may not be as dire as they seem but Harvey and Bob clearly need a hit — a big one. But there’s nothing that looks all that hot and heavy on the release horizon until…neighhhhh!!…Rob Marshall‘s Nine comes thundering into town on horseback some five and half months hence. Talk about a dramatic make-or-breaker.

Inglourious Basterds, trust me, is no bonanza-waiting-to-happen. Even if director-screenwriter Quentin Tarantino succumbs to pressure to trim it by 40 minutes (The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxman reports that Harvey Weinstein and Universal are both pushing for this) it still won’t do more than decent to fairly good business. It’s basically a talkfest with one really good scene in the beginning (i.e., Col. Landa and the French farmer).

Nine, which the Weinstein Co. will open on 11.25, is obviously the big potential rainmaker — a film that will either make things right for the Weinsteins or not. It would obviously really help if it wins the Best Picture Oscar, or at least is nominated. My gut tells me this will probably happen.

I can’t see Rob Zombie‘s Halloween II (8.28) doing monster business, although good horror always brings in a decent haul. I don’t know anything about Shanghai (9.4) with John Cusack and Chow Yun-Fat . John Hillcoat‘s The Road (10.4) has been highly praised in Esquire and is clearly a potential award-calibre prestige release but without much chance of being a mass hit. (Why didn’t the Weinsteins show it to Cannes? At least on a small, no-hoopla basis?)

Miguel Arteta‘s Youth in Revolt with Michael Cera don’t have a date (the Weinstein Co. site just says “fall 2009”). And then there’s Piranha 3-D with Elizabeth Shue and Richard Dreyfuss next March. Plus Tim Story‘s Hurricane Season and Marcus Raboy‘s Janky Promoters.

It’s the summer of ’74, and the 27 year-old Dreyfuss is having trouble sleeping during the filming of Jaws. Tossing and turning, talking to himself. He suddenly awakes and see a filmy white ghost hovering over his bed. “Hello, Richard,” the ghost says. “Don’t be alarmed. I’m here as your friend and comforter. Well, not really. Because I’m telling you that 35 years from now you’ll make a movie called Piranha 3-D and…well, perhaps you need to prepare for this.”