In empowering Harvey Weinstein with Disney money and muscle, the rulers of the Magic Kingdom in 1993 transformed a struggling indie distributor into an all-consuming producer-predator whose ultimate self-destruction is about to play out in the courtroom.
At a time when mega mergers involving Viacom and AT&T are taking center stage, the Miramax deal seems at once paltry, yet historically noteworthy. The acquisition involved $60 million, plus assumption of more than $40 million in debt.
The Harvey Weinstein of 1993 was broke and also desperate to find distribution for two obscure pickups — a sexually ambiguous film set in Northern Ireland, and a comedy made on a dime by a young, first-time filmmaker. While ill-kempt and fiercely aggressive, Weinstein was also shrewdly deferential. He always said “thank you” and opened doors for women.