Bob Weinstein is back, without his brother. The former Weinstein Co. co-chairman has formed a new production company that will focus on family films, comedies, and upscale adult thrillers. Unlike TWC, this company won’t be a distributor; instead, it will focus on producing up to three movies annually.
This puts Bob Weinstein in an unusual late-career position: Not only is he in business for the first time without Harvey Weinstein, he’s also in the role of seller. While he holds the title of executive producer on hundreds of films and TV shows, he earned all of them while being a distributor who acquired scripts for production as well as finished films as the co-head of Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company, and chairman of Dimension Films.
As a full producer, he has three credits: the Ben Affleck action film “Reindeer Games” in 2000, and Guillermo del Toro’s “Mimic” in 1997, a film the director memorably described at the BFI London Film Festival in 2017. “I really hated the experience,” he said. “My first American experience was almost my last because it was with the Weinsteins and Miramax. I have got to tell you, two horrible things happened in the late ’90s, my father was kidnapped and I worked with the Weinsteins. I know which one was worse… the kidnapping made more sense, I knew what they wanted.”
His third producing credit, “Playing For Keeps” in 1986, was his first feature; he and his brother co-wrote and co-directed the film.
The real endgame for Bob Weinstein’s new company, Watch This, is owning the IP — Hollywood’s current coin of the realm. Pantea Ghaderi, former executive VP of publicity at the Dimension Films, serves as president of creative development. Up first is the animated family adventure “Endangered;” Tea Leoni is also a producer as well as a voice on the project. Directed and written by Oscar-nominated French animation collective Illogic, the film is based on wildlife photographer Tim Flach’s book of the same name.
Weinstein told Deadline his goal is to create IP ownership. Studios are hungry for IP, but they also prefer to keep its exploitation in house.
“Tea and I have been close friends over the years and I knew she was interested in producing movies in addition to acting,” Weinstein told Deadline. “I had recently read ‘Endangered’ by Tim Flach and I thought Tea would fall in love with the imagery and concept as much as I did. We both wanted to do something new in making an animated film. We’ve already been working together for several months on the project and it’s been a positive collaboration. Our hope is to make an entertaining movie with an inspiring message for families.”
The box office has also undergone something of a sea change in Weinstein’s absence. TWC saw its highest-grossing release with Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 “Django Unchained,” which brought in $482 million worldwide (adjusted). Tarantino’s latest film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” has brought in $363.9 million since Sony released it in July.
Of course, streaming also offers a range of distribution possibilities that didn’t exist even when TWC folded under the weight of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in early 2018.
In May 2018, Lantern Capital, through its Lantern Entertainment subsidiary, bought the remains of The Weinstein Co. at the bankruptcy auction. Among the assets included were Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.”
Lantern Entertainment partnered with former MGM CEO Gary Barber earlier this year to revive the Spyglass label and transfer Lantern’s film library to the new company, Spyglass Media Group. The company closed its New York offices, laid off 15, and transferred its operations to Los Angeles.
Harvey Weinstein is currently set to go to trial in January on charges that include two counts of predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act, rape in the first degree, and rape in the third degree. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, according to Vanity Fair.