The Weinstein Company Is Filing for Bankruptcy as Me Too Marches On
Ever since Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and abuse last year, some things have begun to change in Hollywood. For starters, Weinstein, who until recently was one of the most influential producers in the business, is now completely ostracized; the resurgence of the #MeToo movement has led to the ouster of actors, directors, politicians, and more who have been accused of abuse; and now: Weinstein’s company is in major financial peril.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Weinstein Co., the company Weinstein co-founded with his brother Bob Weinstein, will file for bankruptcy. The company’s board stated that it had no choice but to file for bankruptcy after talks to sell its assets to an investor group failed. In a statement to the Times, the Weinstein Co. board said, “While we recognize that this is an extremely unfortunate outcome for our employees, our creditors and any victims, the Board has no choice but to pursue the only viable option to maximize the company’s remaining value: an orderly bankruptcy process.”
The failed deal was between the Weinstein Co. and an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who led the Small Business Administration under President Obama from 2014 to 2017. The Times reports that the deal was worth around $500 million. According to a letter from the Weinstein Co. to Contreras-Sweet and backer Ronald Burkle obtained by the New York Times, the deal between the company and investors would have included the establishment of a “victims’ fund.”
But the deal collapsed when the potential investors wouldn’t provide interim funding the company needs to stay afloat before a buyout would be complete. Now, the company’s fate is bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, the #MeToo movement has remained strong. Reporting on the allegations of sexual abuse against Weinstein emboldened women across various industries to open up publicly about their own experiences with harassment and misconduct, especially in the workplace. Inspired by a letter of solidarity from the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance), more than 300 women in Hollywood started Time’s Up, a campaign that seeks to address inequality and abuse at work. Time’s Up launched on January 1, and includes a legal defense fund so that working-class women have the financial support they need to take on their abusers at work.
The viral popularity of #MeToo also brought the original founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke, into the national spotlight. Burke first used the phrase Me Too in 2006 to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual assault. The hashtag took off in the wake of the accusations against Weinstein, and Burke is now being recognized on a national stage for her contributions to the women’s movement. The activist has spoken at rallies and conventions around the country, and even attended the Golden Globes with actress Michelle Williams.
Women in Hollywood have used awards shows to make a statement about harassment and abuse in the industry. Actresses coordinated to wear black to the Golden Globes, and many high-profile stars brought women’s rights activists as their guests. When she accepted her Cecil B. DeMille award at the Globes, Oprah Winfrey dedicated her speech to the need for gender equity in film and TV. It’s not yet clear if women in Hollywood have anything planned for the Oscars on March 4, but it seems likely given the movement’s momentum.
And of course, abusers have started to face some consequences.
After actor Anthony Rapp publicly accused Kevin Spacey of “trying to seduce” him when he was only 14, Netflix booted Spacey from his leading role in House of Cards. In November, Today show co-host Matt Lauer was fired by NBC after he was accused of repeated sexual harassment. Celebrity chef Mario Batali was fired from his co-hosting job on ABC’s The Chew and took a leave from his restaurant group after several women who worked for him accused the chef of groping. And multiple members of Congress, including Minnesota senator Al Franken, were forced to step down in light of abuse and harassment allegations.
And these are just some of the big moves Me Too has made as Weinstein’s empire falls apart in the background. The movement has of course faced backlash, and it certainly has its limits, but the total inability of the Weinstein company to sell demonstrates how toxic this brand has become because of sexual abuse.
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(photos via Getty Images + Frazer Harrison/Getty Images + Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)