Many supporters of the #MeToo movement that Mr. Weinstein’s accusers helped ignite are looking to see whether the legal system can deliver justice for victims. Lawyers for Mr. Weinstein, who lost his company, his reputation and his marriage, are arguing that the case is proof that #MeToo has gone too far. At the courthouse, media from around the world, demonstrators outside and spectators in packed galleries will be watching.

But for all the expectations about the high-profile trial, the jurors will be hearing a narrow legal case, with an already-fraught back story and a highly unpredictable result.

While prosecutors intend to call several female witnesses to show a pattern of misconduct, the charges rest largely on two women. Mr. Weinstein is accused of forcing oral sex on a film production assistant and raping another woman, who is still anonymous, her story not publicly known. Most of the other allegations against Mr. Weinstein dated too far back to be prosecuted, fell outside New York’s jurisdiction or involved abusive behavior that was not criminal. Other accusers were unwilling to participate, convinced the personal toll would be too great.