Hotel Mumbai’s backers say they rescinded their distribution and marketing agreement with The Weinstein Co. in February, following damaging news accounts of co-founder Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct and a subsequent lawsuit alleging a corporate cover-up.
Nonetheless, the Weinstein Co. included Hotel Mumbai as a “top unreleased picture” to be sold to the stalking horse bidder, Lantern Capital, in its March bankruptcy filing. The film’s backers are asking the bankruptcy court judge in Delaware to rule that Hotel Mumbai was erroneously included among the Weinstein Co.’s assets — a determination that would free it to get another domestic distributor.
The independent film’s backers say they’re suffering harm from being entangled in The Weinstein Co.’s bankruptcy, which has prevented the film from being screened and marketed in a way that would ensure its consideration for awards.
“The debtors stopped performing under the license agreement in October of 2017 and have not done a single act in furtherance of the marketing and distribution of the picture that would typically take place,” Hotel Mumbai’s backers argue in court documents.
Hotel Mumbai’s producers initially sought out The Weinstein Co. to distribute the film, which stars Dev Patel and Armie Hammer, because of its stellar reputation and deftness at marketing such independent productions. But at no time did co-founder Harvey Weinstein or other executives hint at the “ticking time bomb that, when made public, would destroy TWC’s reputation and its ability to operate its business.”
The New York Times and New Yorker’s reporting last October would reveal dozens of allegations of sexual assault and abuse, stretching over three decades — and render The Weinstein Co.’s brand toxic. A subsequent civil rights lawsuit, filed on Feb 11 by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, detailed efforts by the company and some senior executives to cover-up this alleged misconduct.
Hotel Mumbai‘s producers allege, in court documents, that The Weinstein Co.’s executives deliberately misled them during negotiations in early 2016.
“The executives with which Hotel Mumbai Party Limited directly communicated — including David Glasser — had actual knowledge of the extent and nature of Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct, and not only ignored it but actively covered up such misconduct,” the legal document alleges.
On Feb. 14, Hotel Mumbai’s producers sent a letter to The Weinstein Co. rescinding its agreement on grounds of fraud, arguing that the distributor deliberately concealed material information that, if disclosed, would have prompted the film’s backers to reject a deal.
Glasser acknowledged receiving the letter on Feb. 15, responding, “I need time to consider these issues.” He and the Weinstein Co. never contested the notice rescinding the distribution agreement, according to court papers.
Hotel Mumbai’s backers urged the bankruptcy court to take action, saying the film’s release date was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack in India in November of 2008 that left 160 people dead. It’s critical, the filmmakers argue, that Hotel Mumbai secure release in the U.S. ahead of its overseas distribution — otherwise its finances would be significantly impacted by piracy.
Because of the bankruptcy proceedings, Hotel Mumbai’s backers say they’ve been unable to engage another U.S. distribution company to secure the film’s release in time for the anniversary — or awards consideration.