The reports of The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy, as relayed by TWC itself, were greatly exaggerated. Was it really almost a Chapter 11 or a bargaining maneuver? We may not know fully for some time, but news broke late Thursday evening that The Weinstein Company will be sold after all to an investment group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet. Further the $500 million deal that will give the Contreras-Sweet Group a majority stake in TWC is supposed to save about 150 jobs, as well as potential restitutions for victims of Harvey Weinstein’s predation.
The news caps a dramatic turnaround after the TWC board announced this past Monday that the deal had collapsed and they were going to file for bankruptcy due to having “no choice.” The tumultuous process had been some months in the making, as Contreras-Sweet, a former ProAmérica bank executive and member of the George W. Bush administration, and Dallas-based billionaire Ron Burkle, had rallied together a group of private investors and venture capitalists in a bid to save the failing studio (as well as enter the Hollywood system).
However, a dramatic (and presumably needed) roadblock was encountered when New York State Attorney General Erick Schneiderman filed a civil suit against The Weinstein Company and its founders, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, in order to make sure the deal did not prevent Weinstein’s victims from seeking and procuring damages. Further, Schneiderman accused TWC’s then-COO David Glasser of failing to stop Weinstein’s alleged abuses. Glasser was quickly fired from TWC, but he has since begun suing his former employer for wrongful termination.
While at a meeting last month between Contreras-Sweet and Schneiderman’s office saw an agreement on expanding the size of a victims compensation fund, supposedly unknown variables like that civil suit and Glasser led to a cooling of relations between the two sides before a deal was finally struck Thursday.
The new deal will see TWC’s majority stake sold to the private investors for $500 million, as well as the creation of a victims compensation fund that will range between $80 million and $90 million.
Schneiderman said in a statement, “As part of these negotiations, we are pleased to have received express commitments from the parties that the new company will create a real, well-funded victims compensation fund, implement HR policies that will protect all employees, and will not unjustly reward bad actors. We will work with the parties in the weeks ahead to ensure that the parties honor and memorialize these commitments prior to closing.”
Maria Contreras-Sweet announced the deal behalf of her group earlier in the day, stating they will create from the studio’s architecture a female-led movie studio whose board of directors will be a majority of women. She also pledged the deal would save about 150 jobs and protect small businesses owed money by the collapsing movie distributor.
This is the latest development from the fall and disgrace of Harvey Weinstein. The future of TWC was thrown into serious doubt last year following the tidal wave of allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, assault, and rape being directed at Harvey Weinstein. The alleged incidents span decades, predating TWC and going back to when Weinstein ran the 1990s’ cultural game-changer Miramax (then owned by Disney). Weinstein’s subsequent fall led to him being fired by his own company with his name above the door, as well as triggered the first steps of what became the #MeToo movement.
Perhaps the next chapter of The Weinstein Company’s legacy will be a name change?