It didn’t take Warner Brothers long to do its best Porky Pig imitation and tell Brett Ratner abeebla-beebla-That’s all, folks! After six actresses went on the record in a Los Angeles Times exposé to accuse the Hollywood mogul of sexual harassment and assault, his studio partner has suddenly discovered a better use of its office space. Warner not only asked Ratner to leave, they have removed him from at least one upcoming project:
Top brass at the studio spent the day reviewing the allegations that Ratner had masturbated in front of actresses and forced one actress to perform oral sex on him. Ratner’s attorney has adamantly denied the charges on his behalf. …
Ratner’s first-look deal with the studio had already expired, but will not be renewed. Ratner will also lose his office space on the Warners lot in Burbank, Calif., which will revert to the studio’s control.
Ratner has also been moved off “The Goldfinch,” an adaption of the best-selling Donna Tartt novel, which he was set to produce.
Ratner claims that he voluntarily left Warner, claiming in a statement that he is “choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities.” Perhaps he’s telling the truth, but if so, Warner isn’t begging him to stick around or keeping the offices open for him after a hiatus. Variety notes that the first-look deal between Ratner’s Ratpac and Warner had already expired, but his involvement in The Goldfinch certainly hinted that the deal would get extended.
That won’t keep Warner from releasing the five Ratpac films they have in the can, including expected blockbusters like Justice League, the DC Comics answer to Avengers, and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. The Wrap reports that unwinding the deal may be tougher than it looks for Warner, but given the allegations against Ratner, they have no choice:
Now that Warner Bros. is severing its ties to Brett Ratner and his RatPac Entertainment in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against the “Rush Hour” filmmaker, the tough part is working out the details of that separation.
That’s particularly true of the $450 million co-financing deal that has underwritten much of the studio’s film slate since 2013. …
While the studio has made no decision about renewing its co-financing deal with Ratner, there’s no denying that RatPac-Dune has been one of the biggest financiers of Warner Bros. and New Line films, underwriting such hits as “Gravity,” “The LEGO Movie,” Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “The Conjuring 2,” “Wonder Woman,” “Dunkirk” and “It.”
This year, films co-produced by RatPac have accounted for 54 percent of Warner Bros.’ $1.76 billion in domestic revenue at the box office. When films financed by RatPac with New Line are included, that figure increases to 82.8 percent, or $1.46 billion. The only 2017 WB release that grossed over $100 million domestic that was not financed by RatPac is “Kong: Skull Island,” which grossed $168 million.
This is one key difference between Ratner and Harvey Weinstein. While The Weinstein Company was still a force in Hollywood, its influence had declined somewhat by the time Harvey’s long track record of sexual harassment and worse emerged. Ratner is at the apex of his power, which will make it that much tougher for Hollywood to disentangle itself from him. It will be interesting to see how far they will go to do so, and whether Ratner will ever get the full Weinstein treatment.
How much further will this wave of sexual-harassment exposure wash ashore in Hollywood? One measure might be how much of it splashes up on Bryan Singer, the A-list director, who has had a number of allegations made publicly and then mysteriously retracted. That cycle reappeared last night in a Yahoo News article, which reported on a tweetstorm taking aim at Singer … which then mysteriously disappeared (via Newsalert) [see update below, deleted].
Either Singer has a charmed life, or he’s being terribly persecuted. He was the focus of several lawsuits over alleged sexual harassment and activities with minors, which have either been dismissed or withdrawn. BuzzFeed did a deep dive into Singer’s reputation three years ago, in which the director vehemently denied any illegal conduct, but the impression left was that there was plenty of gray area in his behavior. Singer got accused by actor Noah Galvin last year of “invit[ing] little boys over to his pool and diddle them” in a Vulture interview, which Galvin later retracted with an apology. A tweet calling out Singer in the Weinstein aftermath by actress Evan Rachel Wood got deleted, too. If Singer’s a bad dude, so far nothing’s sticking to him.
In this case, not only did the tweets Yahoo reported get deleted, so did the whole Twitter account. The @Justin_C_Smith account has been deleted, and it’s not clear whether reporter Carly Milne was as careful as other earlier reporters about getting corroboration from Smith’s contemporaries. Singer’s legal counsel might be writing a letter or two to Yahoo to demand a retraction or apology — unless some others come forward with allegations that they can substantiate.
Update, 11/3 6 pm ET: At some point, Yahoo News pulled this article by Carly Milne; the URL redirects to their home page. I’ve removed the quoted material too — not because we’ve been asked to do so, but because Yahoo has pulled it, so there’s no point in us carrying it. Unlike some of the other news reports on harassment charges by Yashar Ali and Ronan Farrow, among others, Milne doesn’t appear to have done any work to substantiate her source and his claims. The removal of the article strongly suggests that Milne only regurgitated a tweetstorm, which is an irresponsible way to report on a topic this explosive.
That doesn’t mean the testimony was false, or that Singer is either innocent or guilty of these and other allegations. It does mean, though, that it will take more careful reporting in the future to get to the bottom of the rumors swirling around Singer.