The Weinstein Company May Be Sold or Shut Down Amid Sexual Assault Scandal
The Weinstein Company is reportedly exploring either a sale or a complete shutdown in the wake of the growing list of sexual harassment and assault allegations brought against its co-founder, Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an anonymous source, reported on Friday that the independent film studio could either change hands or wind down operations as the fallout continues from Weinstein’s accusers coming forward to allege decades of inappropriate behavior. The Weinstein Company’s board fired Weinstein last weekend, and the studio reportedly had been considering various executive reorganization plans, as well as a potential name change. But the possibility of a sale or shutdown suggests that the deepening scandal around its high-profile co-founder has proven too toxic to escape.
Police departments in both London and New York City reportedly launched criminal investigations this week into allegations of past assault by Weinstein, who has been accused of rape in some instances, while a long list of high-profile actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, and Ashley Judd have come forward to allege years of harassment. Earlier this week, Weinstein’s spokesperson issued a statement in response to several of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein.”
Fortune contacted The Weinstein Company for comment and we will update this article with any response. Co-chairman Bob Weinstein (Harvey’s brother), issued a statement on Friday: “Our banks, partners and shareholders are fully supportive of the company and it is untrue that the company or board is exploring a sale or shutdown.” Weinstein also noted several upcoming films the studio has plans to release in the coming months, including a sequel to the studio’s 2015 children’s book adaptation, Paddington. “Business is continuing as usual as the company moves ahead,” Weinstein added.
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The Weinstein scandal has churned out a steady stream of troubling news for more than a week, leaving the fate of the powerful film executive’s studio hanging in the balance. Apple decided to kill a planned Elvis Presley biopic it had in the works with The Weinstein Company, while Amazon’s TV and film production unit (which is facing its own scandal over harassment allegations) is reportedly “reviewing” its options with respect to the TV series projects the company is developing with Weinstein’s studio. Meanwhile, the book publisher Hachette Book Group said on Thursday that it is shutting down the Weinstein Books imprint it runs in partnership with The Weinstein Company.
On Friday, banking behemoth Goldman Sachs said it is already exploring the possibility of selling off its own small stake in The Weinstein Company, which is reportedly only worth around $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. Goldman Sachs raised nearly $1 billion to help finance the studio when it launched in 2005, and the bank acquired more than 200 movie titles from The Weinstein Company in 2010 in exchange for forgiving debt owed by the studio.
The fact that other Hollywood players appear to be distancing themselves from The Weinstein Company makes it unclear whether the studio will be able to find a suitable deal to sell the company, only to have it continue operating under a new owner. WSJ, which reports that interested buyers have approached the company’s board, also notes that the board already scrapped plans to allow Weinstein’s brother, and fellow co-chairman, Bob Weinstein, run the company along with president David Glasser. (Meanwhile, a rumored plan to change the studio’s name in an attempt at distancing the business from its namesake also came under fire this week.)
Should the studio be shut down completely, WSJ notes, The Weinstein Company’s extensive catalog of films and TV shows—which includes Academy Award winners such as The Artist and The King’s Speech—would likely be sold off piecemeal, along with other studio assets.