EXCLUSIVE: It looks like the employees, assets and projects of old The Weinstein Company will get a new lease on life. According to sources, the bid from a group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet has entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire the company that plunged into darkness after the scandalous revelations about its leader, Harvey Weinstein.
Contreras-Sweet, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration for the Obama administration, furnished what sources described as a pre-emptive proposal, in which the majority of the deal points have been agreed upon. The deal is expected to close within seven to 10 days, sources say.
A new company, under a new banner and with a board led by women, will purchase the assets of the old Weinstein Co. Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Enterprises and Lantern Capital are minority partners in the bid, sources said. Other bidders including Miramax owner beIN, Lionsgate and Killer Content are being told now.
The deal marks a completed Hail Mary pass for the company that includes a victim’s fund and envisions keeping the majority of the employees and repaying all vendors. The board and Bob Weinstein were helpful in the discussions and in ensuring the best possible outcome from a difficult situation.
Deadline revealed all those bids, including the one Qatar-based beIN, on January 7. All the other bids were angling for the company to plunge into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the Contreras-Sweet bid was the only one that assumed all liabilities. Bob Weinstein, who founded TWC with brother Harvey Weinstein, leaves and takes with him the Dimension Films name along with properties that include The Six Million Dollar Man, which has interest from both Warner Bros. and potential star Mark Wahlberg.
More than 20 bids came in, including bids for just the TV component, or the library — and the ones in the final round include Lionsgate, a Killer Content bid backed by Abigail Disney (daughter of Roy Disney), Shamrock Capital, Vine Investments, Sony (for the television business), MSD Partners, Critical Content, Versa, and Qatar-based beIN, which owns Miramax.
The commitment will be around $500 million, including a purchase of around $275 million, an infusion of fresh capital, plus the assumption of liabilities and operating costs that includes keeping employed the long-suffering 157 or so staffers and managers whose lives turned upside down the moment that The New York Times and The New Yorker detailed shocking first person accounts of sexual assault and harassment allegedly perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, who was summarily fired by the board of directors.
It will take a few days to close this, and we will have more. But it looks like all the contentious press reporting that seemed to root for a bankruptcy filing was all for naught. Contreras-Sweet puts a positive face on a company that badly needs one. Her bid has no contingencies, and solid backing. She is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico and was executive chairwoman and founder of ProAmerica Band, a commercial lender to small to mid-sized business with a specialty in the Latino community. She became California’s cabinet secretary overseeing the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency before spending three years as a member of President Obama’s cabinet.
Contreras-Sweet has followed through on her pitch letter to the board of directors in late November, where she promised to not only assume liabilities but also infuse new capital to retain staff and pay suppliers. While the shock of the Weinstein scandal left those with TV or movie projects wanting to get far away with series and films that have been stalled, that stigma might be removed if this deal makes. Her bid was blessed by Gloria Allred, who will rep numerous women who file civil lawsuits against Weinstein. Included is contingency funding that will be paired with insurance policies to cover liabilities related to claims against Weinstein.
The bidder inherits a strong lineup of library titles and output deals with the likes of Netflix. Projects include the Kevin Costner-Taylor Sheridan series Yellowstone, movies like the recut Benedict Cumberbatch-Michael Shannon-starrer The Current War and the Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes musical In The Heights, Hotel Mumbai, the Armie Hammer-Dev Patel starrer Hotel Mumbai, as well as numerous other series and films. It might make possible the David O Russell-directed series with Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore, which was scrapped at Amazon even though it had a two-season commitment.