The media buzzards are circling The Weinstein Company. The rumors of imminent collapse that have circulated for weeks now have something to land on – the fact that Bob and Harvey have hired financing consultants Miller Buckfire to help restructure their finances.
This must sting a great deal, coming on the very night that the brothers’ good taste (and good luck) was confirmed at the Tony awards.
The Weinstein Company is a producer of ‘Billy Elliot,’ which swept 10 Tonys on Sunday night including Best Musical, and ‘God of Carnage,’ which won three, including Best Play.
The Times explains the need for restructuring – which is more complicated than just a need for capital, which is widely rumored to in itself be a rising worry.
“A first order of business will probably be an effort to renegotiate the terms on some $500 million in securitized debt that was raised by Goldman and matures in 2014,” the Times explains. “The market value of the debt has fallen, and its status is further complicated by a guarantee from the Ambac Financial Group, which has been burdened by losses of its own. If Weinstein can reduce or loosen the terms of that debt — something holders would find more appetizing if they doubt the strength of Ambac’s guarantee — it might be free to raise new money for a next round of films or other ventures, according to a person who was briefed on the situation and spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflict with the principals.”
I asked the company these same questions three weeks ago at the Cannes Film Festival, where Harvey agreed to say hello but not talk about the company’s finances.
Indeed, no one will talk in detail about the company’s finances.The Weinstein’s investors include Goldman Sachs, French broadcaster TF1 and the advertising company WPP Group, and the sums involved total $1.2 billion.
But here’s what we know: the company needs a big hit, and soon. Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’ premiered to mixed reviews at the Cannes Festival. Weinstein and coproducer Universal are both trying to convince Tarantino to cut it by 40 minutes. (It’s now 2’40”, and considered too long a sit, especially for American audiences.)
But that one looks less like the money shot for the company than “Nine,” a star-studded musical directed by Rob Marshall, of ‘Chicago’ fame, which Weinstein showed to journalists in a three-minute, sexy backstage clip, not for sharing.
I’m going to vote for restructuring. The Weinsteins have more lives than a pair of Siamese cats. When I crossed paths with Bob Weinstein on a plane back from Cannes, I mentioned the widespread rumors that his company was on the cusp of financial disaster.
“They’ve been saying that for years,” he tossed off breezily, on his way off the plane to a private car.