ITV appears to be walking away from a potential deal to acquire the Weinstein Company’s TV division, though neither side will confirm. The two companies were believed to be in talks over a staggered deal worth anywhere from $300 million to a top rate of more than $950 million if all benchmarks were achieved. It now appears, however, that concerns over how the deal would move forward in practice, given TWC’s ongoing film commitments, has led to ITV look elsewhere.
ITV reps, who never confirmed that negotiations were taking place in the first instance, told Deadline they do not comment on speculation.
The development would come as a blow to the Bob and Harvey Weinstein and their shareholders, who had hoped the deal would pay back some of their initial investment dating back to the launch of the company in 2005 with a mix of $500 million in equity and $500 million in debt. TWC increasingly has ramped up its TV activity, across both reality (Mob Wives) and scripted fare (Marco Polo, War And Peace). The Weinstein Company also has a piece of the long-running unscripted series Project Runway, developed and originally produced by Miramax TV. The company’s TV pipeline includes 10-part event series Ten Commandments at WGN America and Ancient Egypt-set drama Book Of The Dead.
There’s also the matter of the strategic relationship with Netflix across both film (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2) and TV (Marco Polo, renewed for a second season). Harvey Weinstein recently played bodyguard to Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos at Cannes, calling the SVOD giant “visionary” and giving an impassioned defense of the exec and the service when Netflix came under fire during an “in conversation” event.
The mooted ITV-TWC did raise eyebrows when news of the talks was leaked, with many questioning the supposed valuation of the TV division, how the day-to-day would work with the Weinstein brothers required to report to two sets of boards — one film, one TV — not to mention the different corporate personalities of UK-based ITV and the Weinsteins’ famed showmanship. It remains to be seen whether the brothers resurrect the idea of selling the TV division to another company or, indeed, spinning it off and launching an IPO on the stock market, one idea previously discussed. Sources tell Deadline that, at the time of the ITV negotiations going public, other bidders were kicking the tyres of TWC’s TV division.
The events will raise further question marks as to the future direction of the Weinstein Company. Both Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s contracts with the company are up for renewal at the end of the year. There is bound to speculation now as to whether both or either of the brothers will re-up with TWC, set up a new company together or, even, go their own way.
As for ITV, it has been on something of an acquisitions spree, buying Gurney Productions, (Duck Dynasty); High Noon Entertainment (Cake Boss); Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys) and DiGa Vision (Teen Wolf). ITV also closed a development and distribution deal with fast-growing UK management and production company 42 and, in its splashiest acquisition yet, acquired John de Mol’s Talpa Media for an initial cash consideration in the region of $550 million.