Weinstein Co. filing for bankruptcy protection
The global #MeToo movement that Harvey Weinstein unwittingly kicked off is now claiming the company he founded, the Weinstein Co.
The New York-based film studio will file for bankruptcy after failing to secure funding from investors, according to a copy of a letter provided by the company on Sunday.
The demise of the 13-year-old studio follows accusations by dozens of actresses of decades of sexual misconduct at the hands of Weinstein, setting off a movement that saw a string of similar revelations of bad behavior by prominent men.
Weinstein Co. blamed a group of investors led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who ran the Small Business Administration from 2014 to 2017, for the collapse of a $500 million bid backed by billionaire Ron Burkle.
“While we deeply regret that your actions have led to this unfortunate outcome for our employees, our creditors and any victims, we will now pursue the board’s only viable option to maximize the company’s remaining value: an orderly bankruptcy process,” Weinstein Co. said in the emailed letter addressed to Contreras-Sweet and Burkle.
According to the letter, negotiations continued this month after the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the offer to buy the studio was unacceptable.
The deal lacked “adequate redress, including a lack of a sufficient victims’ compensation fund” and it would keep victims “muzzled by insidious non-disclosure agreements,” Schneiderman said on Feb. 12.
The investors group said in a Feb. 21 meeting with the company and the New York attorney general that it would work with the Weinstein Co. to enter an agreement on the deal promptly, according to the letter.
After days of work on completing an agreement, the group sent a document to Weinstein Co. that increased liabilities for the studio and didn’t include provisions to ensure employees were paid, according to the letter.
Emails seeking comment from Contreras-Sweet and Burkle outside business hours were not immediately returned.
The furor over cascading allegations that Weinstein sought sex from actresses invited to hotel rooms on the pretext of discussing their projects encouraged women who had been harassed by powerful men to name and shame their abusers.
The list of top executives and political leaders resigning after such allegations continues to grow globally.
The Los Angeles district attorney even created a special task force to deal with a deluge of sexual abuse claims in the entertainment industry.
While alleged harassment and other misconduct by men in a range of professions has ended some high-profile careers, the Weinstein Co. stands out in facing bankruptcy directly because of such accusations.
The creator of Oscar-winning pictures such as “The King’s Speech” and hit TV shows such as “Project Runway,” has been reeling from a loss of business since the allegations against its co-founder surfaced. Weinstein started the company in 2005 with his brother, Bob Weinstein, after the two left Miramax Films.
Harvey Weinstein, who faces a wave of sexual-assault claims stretching back to the 1970s, was ousted from his studio in October 2017 after the New York Times and the New Yorker Magazine published accounts in which women accused him of sexual harassment and rape. He has denied any non-consensual sex.
Since Weinstein’s departure, Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital has dropped plans to make a cash infusion, and Fortress Investment Group LLC’s negotiations to provide a $35 million lifeline were said to end.
AI International Holdings, said in a lawsuit that Weinstein’s departure from the company and the circumstances surrounding it were an event of default under a $45 million loan.
Apple Inc., Viacom Inc. and A+E Television Networks LLC had previously pulled projects with the Weinstein Co.