Why the Weinstein Company Bankruptcy Hurt Native Women | Modern Society of USA

Why the Weinstein Company Bankruptcy Hurt Native Women

Why the Weinstein Company Bankruptcy Hurt Native Women

As dozens of women stepped forward in fall 2017 with accusations that Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted them, the writer and director Taylor Sheridan made several demands of Weinstein’s doomed company: No longer distribute his latest feature, “Wind River,” starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, about a murdered Indigenous woman on a reservation in Wyoming, and also strip all traces of the company’s name from the film. And donate future profits from the film to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

The Weinstein executives agreed.

For the center, which is run out of a woodstove-heated bungalow in snow-swept Lame Deer, Mont., this was a potentially huge boon. The nonprofit addresses violence against Native American women, runs a national helpline for domestic violence survivors, and provides assistance to tribes and tribal programs across the country. The royalties could amount to $6 million, more than twice its annual budget.

But in 2018, the Weinstein Company declared bankruptcy, and Lantern Entertainment acquired its film and television assets for $289 million. Now the center is unlikely to ever see a penny of the film profits promised to it.

Matthew George, a producer of “Wind River” through his production company, Acacia Entertainment, said the bankruptcy sale meant that Lantern Entertainment probably would not recognize the agreement the Weinstein Company made to donate profits to the center.

“To Taylor’s credit, he was doing the right thing, and forced these guys to do the right thing,” George said. “But then the company went bankrupt, and it became a moot point.”

Lucy Rain Simpson, the center’s executive director, said in a phone interview that people in her field had asked, “What are you doing with all that money?” But Simpson said, “We haven’t gotten a huge influx of cash. We haven’t gotten anything from the royalties at all.”

According to Sheridan’s management team, the filmmaker was traveling and could not be reached for an interview. They said he has had no contact with Lantern Entertainment, whose executives declined to comment for this article.

That company has been fighting off efforts by several stars — among them, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence — to collect unpaid royalties from movies they made with Weinstein. In January, a bankruptcy court judge ruled that Lantern was not liable for payments owed to Bruce Cohen, who produced “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Sheridan has long professed deep interest in Native American culture and causes. Simpson said she did not know the writer-director before the profit-sharing agreement he reached with the Weinstein Company in 2017, but since then, he has been what she described as “a really strong non-native ally to us and to this work.”

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