The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy Monday, Harvey Weinstein’s 66th birthday. Plans for the filing were first announced on February 25, startling a group of investors — led by Maria Contreras-Sweet — then hoping to buy the studio’s assets. Those negotiations ultimately fell though. Lantern Capital has stepped in as the “stalking horse” bidder, requiring TWC to file for Chapter 11 to ascertain the value of its holdings. A source close to the Contreras-Sweet negotiations previously told IndieWire that TWC’s $280 million debt killed that deal.
Wilmington, Delaware will be the site of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing. “The Board selected Lantern in part due to Lantern’s commitment to maintain the assets and employees as a going concern,” said TWC in a statement. “The Company hopes that this orderly sale process under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court will allow it to maximize the value of the Company’s assets for the benefit of its creditors and other stakeholders.”
On February 11, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil-rights lawsuit against TWC, with particular concerns about a compensation fund for those allegedly mistreated by Weinstein. TWC fired its co-founder and co-chairman on October 8, following a damning New York Times expose about his history with women, some of whom were silenced with non-disclosure agreements and settlements. In the intervening months, more than 100 women have come forward as self-described Weinstein victims, including multiple rape accusers. The bankruptcy press release noted that TWC employees will now be released from their own NDAs, making them better able to cooperate with investigators.
“No one should be afraid to speak out or coerced to stay quiet,” read the company statement, which then thanked “the courageous individuals who have already come forward,” and referenced #MeToo and Time’s Up activists. “Your voices have inspired a movement for change across the country and around the world.”
Harvey Weinstein’s bullying was well documented throughout his career; both The New Yorker and a recent “Frontline” special detailed how he hired spies to find information that could discredit his accusers. Members of the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Division — the entity that handles sexual-abuse cases — insist that the office of Schneiderman’s Manhattan counterpart, Cyrus Vance, Jr., also worked to defame Weinstein’s alleged victims. Earlier today, Time’s Up called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate Vance and his colleagues.
A Variety source said that Lantern Capital’s proposed bid is in the $300 to $320 million range. Founders Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic they are “honored” and intend to “improve the performance of the company’s businesses with the utmost respect to all employees and promote a diverse and transparent environment.”