Director and actor and all-around loveable everyman Kevin Smith has a new book out called Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash, and it’s full of inside baseball observations from the movie industry.
One particular tidbit is getting plenty of attention: former movie mogul (and current inmate) Harvey Weinstein pulled mega-hit Good Will Hunting from theaters because the studio would have to write Robin Williams a huge check.
If the movie made a certain number at the box office, then Williams would get a much bigger percentage of the money. Smith talks about how he was confused at the time.
“I remember they pulled that movie out of theaters while it was still earning at the time. It was doing incredibly well, and the deal that they’d made with Robin was a high-percentage first-dollar gross-a movie-star deal-and it was great, because instantly by putting Robin in the movie their pre-sales paid for the whole fucking film. So, the movie was paid for and then the movie was making money hand over fist and made over $100 million. From what I remember, Robin’s split would be even greater and he’d get a bigger percentage if it crossed $100 million, so every dollar the movie made at the theatrical box office would have to be split-I’m not sure if it was a 50/50 split-with Robin Williams.”
Because Smith was a producer on the movie, he did some investigating as to why the movie got pulled.
“I was on the movie as a co-executive producer, so we were privy to some details, and I remember the day when Good Will Hunting was leaving theaters and it felt weird because it was like, ‘Wait? There’s all this Oscar buzz, so why would you pull it if it was just making money?’ And they did it because keeping it in theaters meant that more of the money would go to Robin, whereas the moment it went to video the split wasn’t Robin-heavy. It was hamstrung because greed.”
Considering it was Weinstein pulling the strings, the story isn’t that hard to believe. Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape.