EXCLUSIVE: Despite the indie movie studio’s massive layoffs, revolving door executives, and movie release schedule in shambles, insiders are telling us that the cash-strapped Weinstein Co is “3 weeks away” from a new financing deal that will allow it to make, market, and distribute movies through 2013-2014. And we’ve heard The Weinstein Co is also wrapping up a two-pronged deal with Sony: video distribution TWC’s Genius fiasco, and foreign distribution rights. This, after end-of-year news reports that “Hat-In-Hand Harvey” was huddling to find solutions to improve his company’s liquidity woes and repay impatient creditors holding $500 million in studio debt insured by a division of Ambac Financial Group, which now finds itself is in financial trouble and may delay pulling the plug on TWC because of that. (On the grounds that something is better than nothing.)
So here’s what we know from our sources: The Weinstein Co has spent the past 3 months working to get an agreement, supposedly 3 weeks away from being fully executed, to keep its lenders at arm’s length. Now the Ziff Brothers, which lent the company a chunk of money, and Goldman Sachs, which organized the company’s financing after Harvey and Bob left Miramax, will hold off closing the doors. Now, instead of repaying the old debt, The Weinstein Co will be allowed to keep the cash coming into the company and use it to underwrite production of 4 movies a year each for Bob and Harvey. ”Basically, they have a plan laid out to take them forward to 2014,” one of our sources says.
There’s no white knight riding in. Instead, we’re told The Weinstein Co convinced the finance guys that there’s enough cash coming in to the company to cover P&A and production costs for the first 8 pics and more. ”They showed them the huge amount of TV sales, and all kinds of other biz. They’ve got this library of 300 movies. They’ve got Project Runway. They’ve got $117 million from Inglourious Basterds. Altogether, it’s several hundred million dollars.” Really? Really?
We’re as skeptical as you and thinking about how many times The Weinstein Co has been saved at the 11th hour time ever since things starting going south for it. Yet, miraculously, the company is still standing because of the hope that Harv or Bob can find a hit pic. (Recent releases Nine and Youth In Revolt weren’t.) And how interesting that this “new lease on life” news comes just as Harvey arrived at the Sundance Film Festival. (“We’ll find our way out of this,” Harv was telling people asking about the company’s problems while attending the party for John Wells’ The Company Men where he was hanging out with Ben Affleck.) It also comes after The Weinstein Co spent most of 2009 promising filmmakers a theatrical release and not keeping those promises and, in some cases, dumping the pics straight to video. It’s been a very ugly situation, frankly. On the other hand, no one wants to see a buyer leave what is already a dwindling marketplace for the creative community’s output.
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