A Group Of Activists Want To Buy The Weinstein Company And Give Profits To Assault Victims
“These films are toxic,” said one activist. “Watching them is a direct investment in rape culture. [Our] buyout turns all of that on its head.”
A coalition of filmmakers, activists, philanthropists, and investors is exploring the possibility of buying assets from Harvey Weinstein’s embattled film company and directing profits to groups that serve survivors of assault, harassment, and discrimination, BuzzFeed News has learned.
The coalition, known as “Project Level Forward,” is being organized by the media company Killer Content, according to an information sheet provided to investors and beneficiaries that was seen by BuzzFeed News.
The coalition has already attracted serious interest, and currently includes Brogan BamBrogan, a high-profile Silicon Valley engineer and early employee at SpaceX; philanthropist and filmmaker Abigail Disney, a granddaughter of Disney Studios cofounder Roy Disney; the New York Women’s Foundation; and the anti-harassment organizations Hollaback! and A Call to Men, according to a New York Women’s Foundation spokesperson. (Disney declined to comment).
“These films are toxic,” said Hollaback!’s Emily May. “Watching them is a direct investment in rape culture. The Killer buyout turns all of that on its head.”
Adrienne Becker, acting CEO of Killer Content, declined to comment for this story, citing confidentiality. But attorney Laura Metzger confirmed that her law firm, Orrick, was representing Killer Content in its bid to purchase some portion of the Weinstein Company’s assets.
In addition to the dozens of assault allegations and multiple police investigations now facing its cofounder, the Weinstein Company has been struggling financially for years. The company has produced numerous Oscar winners, such The King’s Speech and The Artist, as well as high-grossing films including Django Unchained. Assets include a vast library of past films — although Goldman Sachs already possesses some of those rights under a previous debt restructuring — as well as copyright to films that are still in production, like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature In The Heights and a television unit that includes Project Runway.
The document outlining Project Level Forward’s plan divides the Weinstein’s Company’s assets into two classes: Profits from completed films would be donated to organizations that serve survivors of assault, harassment, and discrimination, while those still in production would be assessed based on their alignment with Project Level Forward’s principles.
Projects that reflect the group’s mission, like Miranda’s In the Heights, would continue to be developed in order to benefit other organizations, and mission-neutral properties would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may be sold to trusted third parties. Projects deemed detrimental to “principles of equality, peace, and social justice” would be redeveloped or killed.
Under the draft plan, the New York Women’s Foundation would be tasked with holding and distributing proceeds to other organizations. “The idea that we could transform these assets into generating opportunities for safety, opportunities for solutions, is an extremely powerful idea,” said NYWF President Ana Oliveira. “We do have the means to translate this cultural uproar into sustainable change over time.”
The exact composition of the group is yet to be finalized, but according to Oliveira, there is a core group of 15 founding members, including investors and influencers, along with a list of roughly 30 organizations who may join the coalition at a later stage.
The group is currently assessing the value of the Weinstein Company’s assets, but BuzzFeed News understands that the coalition is prepared to acquire all of the assets if it believes them to be valuable.
Moelis & Company, the investment bank advising the Weinstein Company, declined to comment.
Killer Content is the parent company of indie producer Killer Films, which was founded in 1995 by Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler and has produced Academy Award winners Boys Don’t Cry and Still Alice, as well as the HBO series Mildred Pierce and the Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything, about Zelda Fitzgerald. According to a spokesperson, the company is largely owned and operated by women, and works with nonprofit organizations through its social impact division, Killer Impact, partnering on script development and sharing profits.
Project Level Forward emerged from that social impact division, and the project is described in the document viewed by BuzzFeed as an “opportunity to change attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices around sexual harassment and the abuse of power."
BamBrogan, the Silicon Valley engineer, told BuzzFeed News he was honored to be a member of the coalition. “I think the messaging that the entertainment industry and the world gives on this kind of topic is important...and I think specifically using the assets from the Weinstein Company to do it is even better,” he said.