As The Weinstein Company first began to implode in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against co-founder Harvey Weinstein, as the first in what would eventually be two-thirds of its board of directors began walking out in disgust, and amid a growing chorus of condemnation from Hollywood and beyond, Bob Weinstein paused to address the growing scandal by, in part, plugging the upcoming Paddington 2. “The first Paddington grossed over $75 million and we expect even greater success for Paddington 2,” Weinstein said in response to rumors that the company was exploring a sale or shutting down. “Test screening scores are through the roof.” Hey, at last, some good news in all this.
Unfortunately for the Weinsteins, as The Guardian reports, that charming little British bear may not save them after all—or at least, he would very much rather not. Co-producers Heyday Films and StudioCanal are, quite understandably, said to be trying to reclaim Paddington’s North American distribution rights from The Weinstein Company, saying, “It is deeply frustrating that a film made with such love and care and a character of such positive and generous spirit might, in some way, be tarnished with the brush of these horrific, wholly unacceptable, acts.”
If they’re successful, it would be yet another major, ostensibly fatal setback for the company that’s currently clinging to life through cash infusions, Project Runway, and general inertia. Paddington 2 is projected to be The Weinstein Company’s biggest box-office hit since Django Unchained, and it’s the sole sure thing in a slate that otherwise includes the horror film Polaroid and the latest funny old Robert De Niro comedy War With Grandpa. In short, they really, really need that bear.
Of course, untangling the distribution deal may not be so easy. Unless The Weinstein Company fully goes under, their contract is still legally binding, leaving it up, essentially, to appeals to their sense of decency. And even if the company’s seemingly inevitable new owner does decide to jettison some of its outstanding projects, “there is no way they would give up on a Paddington,” as one anonymous, Weinstein-associated executive told The Guardian.
In fact, selling off the company’s lucrative back catalog—as the Weinsteins’ two-time angel, Colony Capital, did before when it bought and sold Miramax—all while clinging tenaciously to that poor, innocent teddy bear is likely to be the thing that saves it, and it will probably even make Harvey and Bob Weinstein a tidy little return in the process. And you thought the dead hollows of Paddington’s eyes was the only thing unsettling about it.