The ripple effect from Harvey Weinstein’s downfall has been visible in all sorts of industries beyond Hollywood, if only in terms of people in power being called out for their abuses of that power, but now some of the biggest people in the movie business are getting a delayed sting from having ever worked with Weinstein in the first place. This all starts back in 2018, when Weinstein’s once-unstoppable studio The Weinstein Company immediately became completely toxic. Desperate to be acquired by someone who wasn’t facing a number of horrifying allegations, The Weinstein Company sought a buyer who could take over the business and keep things running, but when those plans fell through, it had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. A few months after that, a private equity firm with no movie experience (a final insult to Weinstein’s legacy) called Lantern Capital Partners stepped in and bought up The Weinstein Company’s assets, kicking off a buying spree that led to Lantern relaunching defunct production company Spyglass and becoming a little media empire.
It’s a nice story, depending on how you feel about private equity firms owning the rights to movies they had no hand in making. The problem, though, is that The Weinstein Company owed a lot of money to a lot of powerful people—like Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and Julia Roberts, not to mention non-famous people like producers—when it went under, and those people “insisted” (per The Hollywood Reporter’s take on the events) that Lantern/Spyglass would have to pay out the money they were owed before taking over TWC’s very valuable catalog.
Now, a few years and legal battles later, the courts have shot that down. Basically, Spyglass argued that, for example, Bradley Cooper’s contract with TWC was to make Silver Linings Playbook, which he did for TWC. By taking over that contract now, post-bankruptcy, Spyglass doesn’t have to pay him for work he already did even if TWC owed him money for it, though it will have to pay him for any residuals or whatever going forward. The Hollywood Reporter has a more technical legalese-filled version of the story, but what this all means is that a number of rich and famous people have to learn a lesson about being more particular when choosing who they work with. Men like Weinstein stayed in power for so long because of how they were enabled by the people and systems they surrounded themselves with, and at the risk of drawing an overly dramatic conclusion from this, maybe it’ll help convince those people and systems to change if they know that there are financial stakes to who they work with in addition to the ethical ones.