In a late development before final bids are due Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware for the assets of The Weinstein Company, director Timur Bekmambetov and his Bazelevs banner have petitioned the court to block the disposition of either The Current War or Apollo 18 until required payments of $800,000 to his company are made. The read on this from here on the complex filing is that Bekmambetov is positioning himself to be in the first group of creditors to be paid, in a long line of people who are owed money.
Bekmambetov’s big beef (read the filing here) comes down to The Current War, the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon-directed drama that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon in the titanic battle between Edison and George Westinghouse to sell electricity to America. The film is finished, premiered last Toronto, but is now mired in the Chapter 11. The director has recut the film so there is real value there.
While Bekmambetov finds himself wading through the uncertainties of bankruptcy, ironically he is actually positioned to benefit by the TWC board’s pledge that Harvey Weinstein won’t be a named producer on any of the forthcoming movies at TWC, following the scandal last October. In Bekmambetov’s deal made when TWC optioned the Current War script from him and then executed a purchase agreement, Bekmambetov was to be paid $500,000 as producer, but in the event that Weinstein wasn’t also a producer, that fee would rise to $1 million.
During the making of the film, Weinstein asked Bekmambetov to defer money, explaining it would be used for the film, and that Weinstein also was deferring. He agreed, subject to multiple conditions. Timur’s camp didn’t hear back immediately on those conditions, so the deferment agreement was never formally accepted. Finally, TWC refused the conditions, and so Timur’s team formally withdrew their offer to defer. But TWC began deferring anyway, pulling back $150,000. Then, TWC stopped paying completely after $250,000 of the money was received in total. This happened while the picture was in production. In addition, Bekmambetov’s development head Michele Wolkoff, who was being paid by Bazelevs but working on that picture, was supposed to get paid $50,000 and get exec producer credit. She too so far has been stiffed. Do all that math, and that is why Bekmambetov is asking for $800,000.
The likelihood is that this won’t stop the bankruptcy bidding process, but will position the Wanted director as one of the many creditors trying to recoup money they were stiffed on.