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Lantern completes $289m Weinstein deal

Dallas-based private equity group Lantern Capital has completed a US$289m deal for the assets of The Weinstein Company (TWC), which went bankrupt after sexual assault claims against co-founder Harvey Weinstein.

Harvey Weinstein

The deal will see Lantern relaunching TWC as Lantern Entertainment and includes rights to an array of scripted and unscripted shows. The company has already revealed plans for a relaunch of fashion format Project Runway for US cablenet Bravo.

A library of 270 films is also included in the deal, featuring Oscar winners like The King’s Speech as well as unreleased movies such as The Current War. However, it remains unclear whether the company will be able to sell the films without also acquiring the relevant talent contracts.

Prior to its downfall, TWC was behind numerous big-budget TV projects, including the forthcoming adaptation of Les Misérables with BBC Studios (BBCS). BBCS cut all ties with TWC on the show following the Harvey Weinstein allegations, as revealed by C21 last year.

TWC’s TV arm has also produced dramas such as War & Peace and was making a doc about the killing of Trayvon Martin with rapper Jay-Z. The company was linked to a buy-out from ITV in 2015, but the deal fell apart.

Lantern’s takeover comes four months since TWC filed for bankruptcy a second time, after an attempt to rescue the firm by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet fell through.

That led to the US bankruptcy court overseeing proceedings, with Lantern acquiring the assets after becoming the only qualified bidder. Neither Harvey nor brother Bob Weinstein will recoup anything from the sale.

TWC agreed to reduce its price by US$21m to seal the deal, with Lantern creating a pot of almost US$9m to cover claims from those owed after TWC projects fell through.

The prodco cut more than 25 jobs last week ahead of the sale to Lantern, which has brought in former Lionsgate exec Steve Beeks, Open Road Films’ alum Alexa Platt, and Lauren Zalaznik, who previously headed digital for NBCUniversal, to lead Lantern Entertainment, the division that will house what was TWC.

Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic, co-founders of Lantern, said: “Throughout all our conversations with employees, creatives and industry professionals, we were inspired by the collective commitment and support extended to the launch of our new company.”

Lantern’s deal marks the end of the company founded by disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob in 2005. Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than 80 women and was sacked from the company in October last year. He denies all allegations of non-consensual sex.

The scandal surrounding TWC brought about the #MeToo campaign on social media and has also sparked a wave of sexual misconduct accusations levelled at figures including Kevin Spacey, Ed Westwick, Louis CK, Roy Price and John Lassiter.

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