The ultimate fate of the Weinstein Co. remains uncertain, as bids are due to be submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Monday in Delaware bankruptcy court.
Though the company’s attorneys have talked up the sale, at one point saying that 60 parties have expressed interest, the bidding is expected to come down to a small handful of players. According to several sources familiar with the proceedings, Miramax and Lantern Capital have emerged as the frontrunners.
Lantern is a Dallas-based private equity fund, which has not previously invested in entertainment. The company submitted the stalking horse bid, agreeing to set the floor for the bankruptcy auction at $310 million in cash, plus the assumption of $115 million in project-based liabilities.
Miramax, now owned by Qatar-based beIN Media Group, is thought to be the most serious rival. Miramax is keen to add the 277-film Weinstein Co. library to its existing library of more than 700 films. Harvey and Bob Weinstein founded the company and sold it to Disney in 1993. They ran it together until leaving Disney in 2005. In 2013, Miramax and the Weinstein Co. entered a production and distribution deal, which gave the Weinstein Co. rights to co-produce sequels to Miramax titles. Insiders say the deal gives Miramax a good reason to outbid other parties that might also be interested in acquiring the library.
The fate of the Weinstein Co.’s employees is in the balance. As of the bankruptcy filing date in March, the company’s ranks had dwindled to 85 full-time employees. Lantern has said that it will continue to operate the company. If Lantern does not win the auction, however, it’s entirely possible that most or all of the remaining workforce could be laid off.
Shamrock Capital and Vine Alternative Investments are also mentioned among bidders that might be interested in acquiring the library. Lionsgate was considered a strong contender early in the process but its interest appears to have faded. Other bidders that are not now on the radar may also emerge.
If more than one bid is received, an auction will be held at 10 a.m. on May 4 in the New York offices of the Weinstein Co.’s law firm, Cravath, Swaine and Moore.
For victims of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, the hope is that a bidding war increases the value of the Weinstein estate, resulting in a greater pool of money to pay civil claims. The committee of unsecured creditors, which includes two alleged victims, has taken an active role in overseeing the process with the goal of maximizing the sale figure.