In a move that answers many questions about the potential buying appetite of The Weinstein Company at this week’s Toronto Film Festival and beyond, David Glasser had an eleventh-hour change of heart and has decided to stay on as COO/President. His new deal takes him through 2018. This is a shocker, given that he tendered his resignation to the TWC board July 30, and was very close to taking one of several offers to run other companies, including a DreamWorks Animation overture to move them into the live-action space, and start hedge-fund-backed versions of what he helped Harvey and Bob Weinstein build after they reconstituted TWC in 2008.
Bob Weinstein and Glasser said that this rapprochement presages an imminent reup by both Weinstein brothers (their deals are believed to be expiring at year’s end) and a loosening of the purse strings by a TWC board chagrined to see Glasser leaving and unhappy that the situation with the brothers hung over everyone’s heads. This effectively ends TWC’s quest to find a replacement, with Relativity’s Tucker Tooley reportedly among the candidates considered.
Glasser, who joined the company as head of international in 2008, has long been a stabilizing buffer between the sometimes gruff Weinstein brothers and TWC’s staff, talent and the Hollywood community. This news is timely; TWC has made many splashy acquisitions at past Toronto Film Festivals — including the $7 million deal for John Carney’s Can A Song Save Your Life. Glasser was always there, burning the midnight oil with agents to get deals done. This was not an announcement conveniently timed for the festival start, either. I’m convinced that Glasser was out the door. When the Weinsteins sensed that Glasser wasn’t completely committed to taking that other job, Bob Weinstein said he pounced.
“We’d parted amicably, but last Thursday when we heard David might be having second thoughts, it was all I needed to hear,” Weinstein told Deadline. “He was in Mexico for his 20th wedding anniversary, and the question was, should we respect that milestone and leave him be. That took five seconds to get past, and we talked all weekend about what him staying might look like. David was the first COO we ever had, and he has been a fantastic partner for me and Harvey, and has added his own vision to ours. On another level, we are personal friends. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes, people return.”
Glasser’s wife might win an award for patience in putting up with marathon discussions over the Labor Day holiday weekend in Los Cabos, but Glasser and the Weinsteins ended the weekend with a framework for a new deal and plans for the company’s future in film production, acquisitions and the TV division that TWC still owns outright after discussions with ITV halted. Key to Glasser staying was the promise that lingering questions about the brothers’ reup and ability to spend on new projects would be laid to rest. Both the board and the brothers agreed.
After Weinstein said that he and his brother have had productive movement on re-up talks that made him feel an announcement is imminent, Glasser added: “I would not be staying if the purse strings or the question of Bob and Harvey continuing wasn’t settled. We’ve had a great run and after 24 hours of negotiating, the boys are back.”
On Toronto, Weinstein said: “Without a doubt, we will be there to acquire movies. We have the money, the resources and the will to do it if the right movie presents itself. Someone asked recently why we hadn’t bought a film at the last Sundance, and I had to correct them. We bid, but both movies regrettably got to the point we considered festival fever and we dropped out. If we see something in Toronto, we’ll be right on it.”
When Glasser resigned, several followed including Radius partners Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, and Julie Rapaport, Glasser’s former assistant who rose to SVP Production but left to join Amazon Studios. There were rumors others might leave, but I’m hearing those people are now looking to reup and that it is a high priority to keep the team intact.
Glasser arrived from Syndicate Films International in 2008, when the Weinsteins were recalibrating after numerous unsuccessful expansion efforts in areas like fashion and Internet. He originally joined as president of international when Glen Basner left to form FilmNation and within a year he became COO/president, and Harvey Weinstein’s right-hand man.
The company is coming off a strong film year, with an upcoming slate that includes the Cate Blanchett-starrer Carol and Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight at year’s end, the Matthew McConaughey-starrer Gold and the Michael Keaton-starrer The Founder, in which he plays McDonald’s burger meister Ray Kroc. The TV division has 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 and its TV pipeline includes 10-part event series Ten Commandments at WGN America and Ancient Egypt-set drama Book Of The Dead.
The company also has a valuable arrangement with Netflix across film (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2) and TV (Marco Polo, renewed for a second season). It was Glasser who led the negotiations with ITV over a potential deal for the UK media company to acquire the TV division in a deal pegged at upward of $300 million. It seems clear he will have greater sway in returning, and I would not be surprised if something happens with the same suitor or another. Glasser also worked on the 2010 debt restructure that effectively gave the company a new lease on life when Goldman Sachs and investment company Assured Guaranty LTD jointly took control of some 200 films and their recoupables in the Weinstein library and received $115 million from the insurance company Ambac as part of a restructuring that saved TWC and wiped $450 million of debt off the company’s books.
That allowed the company to enjoy a string of box office success with the likes of Django Unchained and Lee Daniels’ The Butler, not to mention awards kudos with Silver Linings Playbook, and back-to-back Best Picture winners The Artist and The King’s Speech. A TV sale would certainly bolster the coffers for the company’s next chapter, but it sounded from Weinstein and Glasser that there would be sufficient capital to grow, given the latest development and the expectation now that the Weinstein brothers will sign new deals.
Though he admitted it might be a dubious distinction, Bob Weinstein said that Glasser is welcome to consider himself the third Weinstein brother. “I don’t know why, but several people in the past wanted to be called the third Weinstein brother, but I can honestly say that David, who was our first ever COO, is the third brother, and family. He has always been able to side with me when Harvey goes astray, and with Harvey when I do, and when David has gone astray, Harvey and I have pulled him back in. We’ve never had that before, he’s the only guy.”
TWC is announcing this now, and in a statement, Harvey Weinstein said: “I couldn’t imagine continuing this journey without David. He knows the company has huge assets that if managed properly will generate long and powerful financial success. This is starting to feel like Miramax 2.0 so I figure we should join the original Miramax and create the world’s most famous active movie company. With David back that could be a reality.”
Miramax was the company the Weinsteins built and left behind with their Disney exit, and they were outbid the first time they tried to acquire the library. It’s up for sale, but it remains to be seen if Weinstein’s quote indicates they will be in the chase for that company again.