Yesterday I covered the varying ways the beleaguered movie studio The Weinstein Company was facing challenges to continue operations following its titular boss Harvey Weinstein being exposed for decades of sexual abuse within the industry. With production partners fleeing, and remaining brother Bob desperate to secure banking support for the previously indebted studio, help may arrive in the form of a Wall Street white knight.
Or, Bob could see himself brushed aside in a financial takeover.
Relief is on the way for TWC in the interim at the wallet of billionaire investor Tom Barrack, who has pledged an undisclosed amount to help keep the company afloat. Barrack is with private investment firm Colony Capital, and he also has direct ties with Donald Trump. The President and Barrack are longtime friends, with the 70 year old investor serving as chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee. He also spoke at the Republican National Convention. Now he has intentions on helping out the Weinstein brothers.
Barrack operates sometimes as what is referred to as a “vulture capitalist”; this means seeking out distressed assets with the opportunity to turn prospects around. Barrack has a past with entertainment entities, as he worked at bailing out celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, and he bought out Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Following Harvey’s sex scandal The Weinstein Company has certainly descended into “distressed” territory.
A string of poorly performing movie releases already had TWC incurring losses. Following the scandal a number of partnering production deals have fled the company, including those with Disney, Apple, and Amazon. Barrack has his eyes on rejuvenation. “We will help return the company to its rightful iconic position in the independent film and television industry,” said Barrack in a statement.
There has been wide speculation on the future prospects of TWC, from it being sold, to being dissolved, or broken up into independent segments. The infusion of funds from Colony is a stop-gap solution, but more involvement seems to be in the works. In announcing this deal TWC alluded to the possibility of a full takeover, mentioning “a potential sale of all or a significant portion of the Company’s assets.” If this transpires then the future of Bob Weinstein becomes a very cloudy reality.
In limbo now are a string of completed movies that were set to be released in the coming six months. The horror film “Polaroid” (from the TWC division Dimension Films) is promised to be released near Thanksgiving. “Paddington 2”, and the Robert DeNiro comedy “War With Grandpa” are tabbed for just after New Year’s. However the hoped-for Oscar contender “The Current War” has been shelved. This prototypical TWC release has Benjamin Cumberbatch playing Thomas Edison in a title that was assured of getting attention during awards season. The promised backlash to Harvey’s actions means this title will be shielded for an indeterminate amount of time. Also in limbo is the major release “The 6 Billion Dollar Man”, starring Mark Wahlberg, that was expected to come out in 2019.
Many of these projects will be influenced greatly by who is in charge in the coming months. If Bob Weinstein remains he’ll likely push the films out for some quick revenue. But if Barrack takes over and installs his own people there is speculation on releases, or possibly the selling off the assets. There is also speculation if Bob will even remain with the company bearing (for now) his family name.