Harvey and Bob Weinstein have signed deals to re-up at the Weinstein Co. for another three years, despite lying about this to Deadline for the past several days. This was hardly a state secret; Bob Weinstein told Deadline that he and his brother were nearing re-up deals when they got COO David Glasser to change his mind about leaving, after he’d tendered his resignation to the board. By signing new contracts, the Weinsteins can put an end to that speculation and make clear their commitment to the company they launched a decade ago.
Now, the big question is whether this means the board will free up the necessary infusion of money to spend on film and TV slates to move forward, and if this halts the exodus of staff and rumors of cash woes that has dogged the company in recent months. It might also revive discussions to sell off a TV production division that has hits and no debt, after a big sale to ITV fell apart. The prospect of that still seems viable at either ITV or Fremantle (or another global concern). That would give them a much needed cash bounce and a strong global distribution platform.
It has been a rollercoaster ride this past decade and there’s barely a dull moment with the brothers. If the company’s debut came with its splashy $1 billion launch — $500 million in debt, $500 million in high-profile equity — in 2005 as a multi-media company with interests in everything from film to fashion and the Internet, TWC 2.0 has been an entirely different proposition. The company has had to scrap for funding for much of its being, ever since a 2010 debt restructure and subsequent box office success with the likes of Django Unchained and Lee Daniels’ The Butler, not to mention awards kudos with Silver Linings Playbook, The Artist and The King’s Speech.
During that time, TWC has branched out successfully into TV, across both reality (Mob Wives) and scripted fare (Marco Polo, War And Peace). The Weinstein Co. also has a piece of the long-running unscripted series Project Runway, developed and originally produced by Miramax TV. The company’s TV pipeline includes 10-part event series Ten Commandments at WGN America and ancient Egypt-set drama Book Of The Dead.
The drama hasn’t been limited to the screen, either. Deadline broke the story that Glasser resigned, and it seemed like the old team was breaking up as talented young execs like marketing chief Stephen Bruno had left for Netflix and TWC promoted underlings from within rather than going out and spending the money to hire new star employees. After Glasser announced his exit, others left, including Robert Walak to Universal and Radius-TWC co-founders Tom Quinn and Jason Janego to set up their own company with Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League. Then, on the eve of the Toronto Film Festival, Glasser announced that he was, in fact, staying within the fold. That stopped the exit plan of some execs, for now.
They’ve got their work cut out for them. The failure of their Bradley Cooper-starrer Burnt was cited along with the Sandra Bullock-starrer Our Brand Is Crisis last weekend as glaring examples of how hard it is to market and find audiences for cynical movies, despite the presence of stars. Now, TWC is navigating its way past a potential police boycott of franchise player Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, after the outspoken filmmaker decried police brutality at a recent NYC rally. The film, set right after the Civil War, comes out Christmas Day.