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Maria Contreras-Sweet Bid Leads Weinstein Co Auction; Staff Would Stay, Bob Weinstein Exit, Women Lead Board

EXCLUSIVE: After a protracted bidding process, the sale of the scandal-scarred The Weinstein Company..

EXCLUSIVE: After a protracted bidding process, the sale of the scandal-scarred The Weinstein Company is close at hand, and the company will rise from the ashes with a future that will be forged by women, timely on a day when the Golden Globes is expected to be dominated by the #metoo theme, which was borne out of allegations of sexual assault and harassment by co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration for the Barack Obama administration, has emerged as the frontrunner to soon complete a deal to buy the pieces and resurrect a company that will be renamed, and majority controlled by women, sources said. Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Enterprises and Lantern Capital are minority partners in the bid, sources said. The derby isn’t quite done yet and Lionsgate is also squarely in the mix.

Bob Weinstein, who founded TWC with brother Harvey Weinstein, is expected to exit and set up his own company and take the Dimension Films name along with properties that include The Six Million Dollar Man, which has interest from both Warner Bros, and potential star Mark Wahlberg.

As Deadline reported last December, the board pored over bids –more than 20 came in, including bids for just the TV component, or the library — and the ones in the final round include Lionsgate, a Killer Content bid backed by Abigail Disney (daughter of Roy Disney), Shamrock Capital, Vine Investments, Sony (for the television business), MSD Partners, Critical Content, Versa, and Qatar-based beIN, which owns Miramax. The finalists are Contreras-Sweet, Lionsgate and Killer Content, which would for sure put women at the helm, as well as Sony, Shamrock and Vine, the latter two for the library.

Wall Street Journal reported last week that the company will sell for around $500 million, a figure I’ve also heard. That number includes a purchase around $275 million, an infusion of fresh capital, plus the assumption of liabilities and operating costs that includes keeping employed the long suffering 157 or so staffers and managers whose lives turned upside down the moment that The New York Times and The New Yorker detailed shocking first person accounts of sexual assault and harassment allegedly perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, who was summarily fired by the board of directors.

TWC will quickly be renamed and it is all moving quickly as the intent is to complete the deal before the money runs out in February, when it would need bankruptcy protection. Phoenix might be an appropriate name given the potential turnaround here, but that is taken by Mike Medavoy’s company. There is the possibility this new company could be in motion for Sundance, where Weinstein was once the biggest buyer of prestige films, going all the way back to Steven Soderbergh’s sex lies & videotape.

If it is Contreras-Sweet who emerges victorious, she certainly puts a positive face on a company that badly needs one. Her bid has no contingencies, and solid backing. She is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico and was executive chairwoman and founder of ProAmerica Band, a commercial lender to small to mid-sized business with a specialty in the Latino community. She became California’s cabinet secretary overseeing the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency before spending three years as a member of President Obama’s cabinet.

Contreras-Sweet has followed through on her pitch letter to the board of directors in late November, where she promised to not only assume liabilities but also infuse new capital to retain staff and pay suppliers. While the shock of the Weinstein scandal left those with TV or movie projects wanting to get far away with series and films that have been stalled, that stigma might be removed if this deal makes. Her bid was blessed by Gloria Allred, who will rep numerous women who file civil lawsuits against Weinstein. Included is contingency funding that will be paired with insurance policies to cover liabilities related to claims against Weinstein.

The bidder inherits a strong lineup of library titles and output deals with the likes of Netflix. Projects include the Kevin Costner-Taylor Sheridan series Yellowstone, movies like the recut Benedict Cumberbatch-Michael Shannon-starrer The Current War and the Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes musical In The Heights, Hotel Mumbai, the Armie Hammer-Dev Patel starrer Hotel Mumbai, as well as numerous other series and films. It might make possible the David O Russell-directed series with Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore, which was scrapped at Amazon even though it had a two-season commitment.

Investment banker Lloyd Greif said word has circled that it came down to Contreras-Sweet and Lionsgate, with motivations that couldn’t be more different: Lionsgate is looking to bulk up its portfolio at a time when companies are looking to grow larger in the wake of the Disney acquisition of Fox and the pending merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

“You’re either prey or predator,” Greif said. “This is an opportunity to buy on the cheap.”

In this scenario, Lionsgate would look to acquire content, but it doesn’t need or want the The Weinstein Co.’s organization. Even the tainted Weinstein brand might disappear, Greif said.

Contreras-Sweet presents a phoenix-rising-from-the ashes opportunity, in which, “The phoenix is wearing a dress,” Greif said. The ne company, he said, “will be accepted by the entertainment community at large — writers, actors and directors.”

Contreras-Sweet is the only potential acquirer who would keep the studio intact — making her the likely preferred buyer, assuming all offers are roughly equal. This option also gives The Weinstein Co.’s board to claim a modest victory at a moment of defeat. After all, the investors who were close to a megadeal with ITV that imploded when Weinstein was investigated for groping an actress/model in New York. are essentially walking away losing their investment. The board is expected to be gone in the new configuration.

“The board could say, ‘We saved all these people’s jobs!'” Greif said.

No comment from TWC.

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Marvel Studios president claims hundreds of superheroes could join MCU after Disney merger

The MCU looks set to expand (Picture: Marvel Universe LIVE!)

The president of Marvel, Kevin Feige, ..

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Marvel Universe

The MCU looks set to expand (Picture: Marvel Universe LIVE!)

The president of Marvel, Kevin Feige, has said that hundreds of superheroes could join the MCU after the huge deal with Disney last year.

The MCU looks set to get a lot bigger.

The truth is Im excited for all of the [Fox properties]. And its not just the marquee names, you know, Kevin revealed while at the Golden Globes earlier this week.

He added to MTV News: There are hundreds of names on those agreements and the fact that Marvel is as close as we may ever get now to having access to all of the characters is something Ive been dreaming about for my almost 20 years at Marvel.

Its very exciting.

Back in December, the 45-year-old Marvel boss also opened up about the ending of Avengers Infinity War, as he explained that he never planned for the good guy to win.

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We did Infinity War and Endgame at the same time, but those have been the longest gestating movies weve ever made.

Four years now, almost five years. And it was always about delivering on the promise that we had set up. And the way the world received Infinity War was amazing, it was exactly what we wanted.

Kevin enjoyed playing around with the idea of leaving the movie on a cliffhanger with villain Thanos seemingly being the victor, as he and his crew were tired of the predictable storyline of the good guy winning.

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Speaking to Varietys Playback podcast, Kevin added: And that ending, which we had been working on for many years, and I do remember people, on all of the movies weve made and Im sure on many of the movies well make in the future, whenever the good guy wins, which is often – good guy, good woman, good hero wins – they go, “Eh, its kind of predictable. Good guy wins.”

Just a thought though, Kevin, we could sure do with a win at the end of Endgame.

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MORE: Samuel L Jackson reveals Captain Marvel superpower that could save Avengers in Endgame

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Groots name could actually be Tree and Thor has been telling us all along

Is Groots name a bit more literal than we thoght? (Picture: Marvel)

We may be waiting for a long ti..

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Groot

Is Groots name a bit more literal than we thoght? (Picture: Marvel)

We may be waiting for a long time for Guardians Of The Galaxy 3, after director of the first two films James Gunn was sacked from the franchise.

But at least we have plenty of fan theories to tide us over.

A Marvel fan has suggested that Groots name isnt actually Groot, and we are shooketh.

Redditor CheMc questioned if Groots name is Tree, as this is what Thor calls him, and hes one of the only people who understands Groots language after learning it on Asgard.

They wrote: I realised that when Thor introduces Groot to Captain America he introduces him as “Tree” rather than Groot, which got me thinking what if Groots name is actually Tree and that he is merely only able to say “I am Groot” leaving the Guardians to believe that is his name, but Thor actually understanding the language knows that to be wrong.

People are still pissed about Thor 2's fictional Tube route - we wish it did exist Credit: Jay Maidment/Marvel

Thor can understand Groots language (Picture: Marvel)

The Reddit post continued: Thor also calls Rocket by the name of rabbit the entire film but I did all of Thors scenes and at no point does anyone call him Rocket which means unless Rocket told Thor his name which doesnt really seem like something he would do Thor would give him his name while Groots name is one of the only 3 words he can say. It seems weird that Thor would incorrectly introduce his friend when he would know his name.

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Thor has a habit of referring to people by their surname like “Stark”, “Rogers”, “Banner” and so on which means its possible that Groots full name is actually Groot Tree and Thor is referring to him by his surname.

In the subtitles rabbit is not capitalised while referring to Rocket as rabbit while Tree is, implying it is a proper name or even a title.

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Interesting – very interesting.

James Gunn previously shot down this rumour, tweeting: His name is not Tree – however, theres no confirmation that this is canon.

One theory about the fan favourite was previously confirmed – that the Groot in Vol 2 is actually a descendant of Groot, after the first Groot sacrificed himself in the first movie.

While GOTG 3 has been wiped from the schedule due to the director issues, Marvel boss Kevin Feige this week maintained that a third film will be made.

Speaking to MTV, he said: Guardians will happen. When, where, how? For a later time.

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Samuel L Jackson reveals Captain Marvel superpower that could save Avengers in Endgame

Brie Larson is avoiding spoiling Endgame using a novel method (Picture: Marvel)

As fans, weve come ..

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Captain Marvel poster Brie Larson

Brie Larson is avoiding spoiling Endgame using a novel method (Picture: Marvel)

As fans, weve come up with a theory or two that addresses what we think may happen, or at the very least, hope to happen in the next Avengers saga.

With Endgame only a mere four-and-a-half months away, Captain Marvel is going to quench our information thirst before we catch up with the rest of the crew battling the wake of Thanos mighty snap.

Samuel L Jackson plays Nick Fury in the Avengers franchise as well as the Captain Marvel prequel spinoff, and whether or not the SHIELD leader meant to or not, he may have just revealed a superpower punters didnt know the Cap M had which might come in handy.

Which, of course, brings about a whole new wave of theories.

So according to Jackson, as well as Carol Danvers being a regular legend with the might to take the Titan Thanos down, shes also a time traveller.

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Wow, the more you know, eh?

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Shes pretty much the strongest character – in terms of someone with powers are able to do things – in the Marvel universe, he said of his compadre, played by Brie Larson. So, for Carol Danvers to be that person and for Brie to become that person, its gonna be a dynamite thing.

He added of the upcoming Endgame and how Captain Marvel will slide right on in there: I mean, [the Avengers] are up against some really, really tough odds right now – we saw throughout Infinity War – so now we know that we need something thats as powerful as Thanos, continues Jackson.

And at some point, well find out how powerful she is and all the things that shes capable of. Shes one of the few people in the Marvel universe that can time travel, so…

CLANG! Sorry, shall we pick up that massive spoiler for you, Sam?

The whole time travel palaver has been floating about the MCU for some time, with many a punter proffering the theory the Avengers will use the means to claim back half the population obliterated at the end of Infinity War.

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Its also been a long-held theory Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man (Played by Paul Rudd) will use the Quantum Realm to get about the various times and realities to stitch everything and everyone back together.

Guess well just have to wait and see.

Captain Marvel is in cinemas 8 March, 2019 and Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas April 28, 2019.

Got a showbiz story?

If you've got a story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk Entertainment team by emailing us celebtips@metro.co.uk, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we'd love to hear from you.

MORE: Did Mark Ruffalo spoil another major Avengers: Endgame theory years ago?

MORE: Margot Robbie and Black Panther among 2019 Bafta nomination snubs and surprises

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