Why Weinsteins Want Their Lost Library Back, from 'Inglourious Basterds' to 'Scary Movie 4'

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by Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
July 18, 2012 1:40 PM
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The Weinsteins Getty Images

Global investment bank Goldman Sachs is selling its stake in about 200 Weinstein Company films, which means that the Weinsteins want to buy back their lost library. They want to be able to profit again from recent titles such as "Vicki Christina Barcelona" and "Inglourious Basterds." In 2010, Goldman Sachs restructured TWC's debt, which made it possible for them to stay in the production and distribution business after they lost their bid to buy back the Miramax library they left behind at Disney.

Bob and Harvey Weinstein, by giving up more than 200 films as assets (from "Halloween II" and "Scary Movie 4" to "The Road") to their owner, Goldman Sachs, in order to pay down some of their crushing debt, were able to raise production funding more easily than before, when the company was saddled with a debt albatross. They no longer had to pay off interest. But it hurt to not only lose one library, but two. It was like losing their own children, in whom they had invested years of sweat equity and nurturing.

Now the Weinsteins want their TWC movies back. Studios are all about libraries. They bring in cash, which pays down debt. But their value is declining as DVD sales drop. Reaquiring titles means that the Weinsteins could both profit from those films but also cultivate a larger library. (Weinstein's current library has 150 titles.) The company is now prepping its bid for the bank, and has the right of first refusal to buy back the titles.

"Vicki Christina Barcelona"

Goldman Sachs was instrumental in helping to create TWC, raising $1.2 billion to launch the distribution label in 2005. By the terms of the 2010 agreement, the Weinsteins would be eligible to buy back their own films once the initial loan was recouped by the bank.

After back-to-back Oscar wins for "The King's Speech" and "The Artist," the Weinsteins are in position to financially expand, with the Goldman Sachs debt settled and Quentin Tarantino's anticipated "Django Unchained"--advance footage played well at both Cannes and Comic-Con--slated for a Christmas release. "Inglourious Basterds" grossed a robust $90 million, marking TWC's best performer to date, and expectations are high that actioner "Django" could do the same.

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