The Weinstein Company is trying to sell Paddington 2 before the company files for bankruptcy. It’s been nothing but bad news for the Weinstein Company in the wake of the turmoil caused by financial troubles and the ouster of co-founder and chairman Harvey Weinstein after the sexual assault allegations pinned on him. While the fallout continues to be mostly landing squarely on Weinstein himself, there’s no denying that his problems are TWC’s problems; he essentially is the company and his removal will have a big impact on its future.
Yet, The Weinstein Company was floundering long before Weinstein’s egregious abuse of power came to light. It was once the darling of the indie scene, a mini-major studio that made indie movies cool and that seemed to haul in awards hand over fist. But increased competition from the indie movie divisions of major studios, smaller distributors like A24, and a studio landscape that has largely shifted to tentpoles has found TWC’s fortune dwindling over the years. In July of last year the rumblings of financial trouble got so bad that the studio had to refute claims it was in dire straits, financially. With the rumors of long-running financial problems and multiple partners jumping ship with a Weinstein brand that has been destroyed, it’s left many to wonder what will happen to the Weinstein Company’s slate of unreleased movies. Now it seems we have an idea of what the plan is for at least one of those movies currently under TWC’s domain.
Related: Paddington 2 Trailer & Poster
Variety is reporting that the studio is shopping around Paddington 2 for potential buyers in the hopes of getting it offloaded prior to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which is speculated to be happening as early as this week. TWC has the domestic distribution rights for the sequel, which was released in the UK this past weekend and generated a whopping $10.8 million. The hope is that that massive opening will entice potential studio buyers who could be interested in picking up the distribution for a movie that has already proven to be a success with a particular overseas audience.
According to the report, Sony is the likeliest candidate to land the rights, but nothing is set in stone. Sony has been beset by its own financial issues in the last few years and it’s reportedly hesitant about the tangled legal rights that surround the picture. It’s been further exacerbated by the fact that both Heyday Films and StudioCanal, the film’s backers, have publicly stated they want to sever distribution ties for the film with The Weinstein Company as they no longer want the family friendly Paddington brand associated with Weinstein. While they have to honor the contract for the moment, the backers can regain the distribution rights should TWC go belly-up, and you’d have to think they’d prefer to make a distribution deal themselves rather than having the money and final decision go to The Weinstein Company.
Paddington 2 distribution issues aside, it’s looking bleak for Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s company as it continues its long fall from grace. The board of directors have reportedly been in talks with two different investment groups regarding a possible bridge loan of $20-35 million to help fulfill its payroll obligations, but inside sources say that loan is not likely to go through. The issue is that that bridge loan would rely on using TWC’s library of movies for collateral, but that library is already mortgaged to a heavy degree and it would be a legal quagmire should the Weinstein Co. have to file for bankruptcy. With a rumored $500 million in debt and obligations and Weinstein shopping Paddington 2, once seen as the savior of the studio’s fortunes, it’s looking increasingly likely that news of a Chapter 11 filing will break in the near future.