Monday’s Brett Ratner investigation in the The Los Angeles Times, with testimonials from a half-dozen women accusing him of sexual harassment, continued what’s become a familiar pattern. First-hand accounts. Apologies and/or denials. And now, the career blowback begins.
Depending on who you ask, Warner Bros. cut ties with Ratner late this afternoon — or to hear Ratner tell it, he made the decision. Ratner said in a statement, “In light of the allegations being made, I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities. I don’t want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved.”
The news came after Ratner lost his biopic on former Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner. “We are putting all further development of our projects with RatPac Entertainment on hold until we are able to review the situation further,” a Playboy Enterprises spokesman told The Wrap today. (Oscar-winner Jared Leto was announced in the titular role days after Hefner died last month at age 91, but today his reps told Deadline that reports of his interest were “incorrect.”)
Ratner also lost another title, “The Goldfinch,” which RatPac was to produce with Warners and Amazon Studios — a company that just lost its own top executive, Roy Price, amid outcries of sexual harassment. Now in preproduction, the adaptation of Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel will be directed by John Crowley (“Brooklyn”); in talks are Ansel Elgort and Ralph Fiennes. Amazon Studios did not answer requests for comment by press time.
RatPac is also in post on Christoph Waltz’s feature directorial debut, “Georgetown,” with a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn; Waltz stars opposite Annette Bening and Vanessa Redgrave.
But the biggest business crisis stemming from Ratner’s alleged behavior — from masturbating in front of women to forcing them into oral sex — is Warners’ four-year, $450 million co-financing partnership between RatPac and Dune Entertainment. The deal recently expired, and per Variety today, it will not be renewed. While the studio did not officially employ Ratner, few personalities had more pull on its Burbank lot, where he also kept an office.
The RatPac-Dune Entertainment filmography is extensive and genre-crossing, encapsulating dozens of features like “The Lego Movie,” “Magic Mike XXL,” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Directors who collaborated with the company include Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper,” “Sully”), George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), Joe Wright (“Pan”), Nancy Meyers (“The Intern”), Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”), and James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”). “The Lego Movie Sequel” is forthcoming in 2019.
Dune Entertainment — the co-producer of “Avatar,” with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment — was founded by former hedge fund leader and Goldman Sachs veteran Steven Mnuchin, who currently serves as Secretary of the Treasury under President Trump.
Ratner’s leave of absence is the third exit in the RatPac-Dune realm this year. Packer sold his stake to fellow billionaire Len Blavatnik in April 2017. Mnuchin also divested from the company this June (following his now-wife’s less than three-week stint as Dune’s interim CEO).
With multiple accusers now speaking on the record, Ratner joins two of the men he called his “closest friends” in January 2017 Variety profile — James Toback and Roman Polanski — as accused sexual perpetrators.