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Harvey Weinstein’s scandal-plagued movie studio files for bankruptcy

Harvey Weinstein co-founded The Weinstein Co. in 2005.
Harvey Weinstein co-founded The Weinstein Co. in 2005.(Vince Bucci/Invision/AP/File 2015)

NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday with a buyout offer in hand from a private equity firm, the latest twist in its efforts to survive the sexual misconduct scandal that brought down co-founder Harvey Weinstein, shook Hollywood, and triggered a movement that convulsed other industries.

The company also revealed it was releasing any victims of or witnesses to Weinstein’s alleged misconduct from non-disclosure agreements preventing them from speaking out. That step had long been sought by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who filed a lawsuit against the company last month on behalf of its employees.

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The Weinstein Co. said it has entered into a ‘‘stalking horse’’ agreement with an affiliate of Dallas-based Lantern Capital Partners as part of its filing in US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. That means Lantern has agreed to buy the company, subject to approval from the court.

The company made the filing about two weeks after negotiations to sell the company to a group of investors fell apart. Lantern, which had been one of those investors, has now offered to buy most of the assets of the company and keep its employees, the Weinstein Co. said.

Other bidders could emerge, particularly those interested in the company’s lucrative 277-film library, which includes award-winning films from such big-name directors as Quentin Tarantino and horror releases from its Dimension label. Free of liabilities, the company’s assets could increase in value in a bankruptcy.

The movie and TV studio becomes the first high-profile company to be forced into bankruptcy in the nationwide outcry over workplace sexual misconduct. Dozens of prominent men in entertainment, media, finance, politics, and other realms have seen their careers derailed, but no other company has seen its very survival as tightly intertwined with the fate of one man as the Weinstein Co.

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Weinstein, who was fired as CEO of his company in October, has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.