“This has been a difficult company to sell,” TWC attorney Paul Zumbro said, “and I’m confident we have the best deal in hand.”
After months of drama, the final hurdles preventing the sale were last-minute issues brought by top actors and directors. But Judge Christopher Sontchi overruled objections from attorneys representing Quentin Tarantino, OWN, Bradley Cooper, Mark Wahlberg, David O. Russell, Robert De Niro and others. They were concerned about what would happen with contracts for movies and TV shows that would be transferred to Lantern Capital and haven’t been resolved before the sale date.
The sale terms, agreed upon in May, did not require those contracts to be resolved prior to the sale.
“All we’re doing is amending a previously approved order you consented to,” Sontchi said. “Hasn’t that train left the station?”
The sale, assuming it closes Friday as scheduled, will happen days before The Weinstein Co. has claimed it would run out of financing. The price of $289 million represents less than the $310 million originally agreed upon.
At first, the unsecured creditors committee, which represents the interests of alleged victims of Weinstein, balked at a price reduction. The committee negotiated to get the sales price up to $289 million, from $287 million. Lantern will also have to provide at least $8.75 million in cure obligations.
“The committee is still not happy,” said attorney Robert Feinstein, “but the sale has to close.”
Lantern Capital, per terms of the agreement, intends to assume all contracts not under objection at the close of the sale. It has another 120 days after the sale to come to terms with contracts under objection, such as those involving Tarantino, Cooper and others.
Tarantino lawyer Michael Delaney said that Lantern would be distributing Tarantino’s films without the rights to do so because it hadn’t reached a contractual agreement yet. He also questioned why Lantern Capital needed 120 days to come to terms with Tarantino and other objectors.
“They’re asking for an additional four months to resolve this issue,” Delaney said, “and in the interim our client’s rights are being affected.”
But the arguments didn’t sway Sontchi, who kept referring to the terms of the sale made in May that didn’t require the resolution of the objected contracts. He was filling in for Judge Mary Walrath, who has handled previous TWC hearings, and attempted multiple times to inject humor into the proceedings, noting to the lawyer representing Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook…was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Fantastic. Mr. Cooper was outstanding.”
He later addressed the gravity of the situation, saying he and others should not get too caught up in the “very sexy” aspects involving the studios and movie stars.
“It’s primarily a serious case about terrible things that were done to people,” Sontchi said.