“Polaroid” is among a handful of unreleased films that have been stuck in limbo since the Weinstein Co. began its spiral into bankruptcy a year ago.
The film may soon see the light of day, as Lantern Entertainment — which acquired the company’s assets in July for $289 million — is seeking distribution. The film is screening on Wednesday for international buyers at the American Film Market.
But not so fast. First Republic Bank, which put up the financing for the film, is seeking to block Lantern from selling it. In a motion in Delaware bankruptcy court on Tuesday, the bank alleged that Lantern never actually acquired the rights to the film, and that proceeds from the sale should go to pay off the bank’s $5.3 million loan balance.
“Lantern is literally trying to sell First Republic’s collateral without owning it,” the bank’s lawyers allege.
Lantern did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A sales agent, 13 Films, is handling the film at AFM. Ross Marian, creative and operations director of 13 Films, told Variety, “We don’t have a comment.”
“Polaroid” is a horror film from Bob Weinstein’s Dimension label. 13 Films is also marketing “The Current War,” the Benedict Cumberbatch film that was also mired in the Weinstein bankruptcy.
In the motion, First Republic says Lantern has kept it in the dark about its distribution plans.
“First Republic also understands that Lantern has entered into, or is negotiating, a license agreement with Netflix related to the Film,” the bank states. “First Republic has not been provided with any details about these agreements.”
On Oct. 9, Lantern filed a stipulation, in which attorneys for the Weinstein Co. estate and the producers agreed that the film had been validly transferred to Lantern. However, First Republic says it was not consulted about that agreement.
The bank’s lawyers are asking the Delaware judge to lift a stay in the case, which would allow it to pursue its rights to the film. The bank argues that it needs immediate relief because Lantern’s actions are reducing the value of its collateral. Ultimately, the bank says it would sell the film to the highest bidder.
“First Republic will use commercially reasonable efforts to market its collateral for the highest and best price with any residual value (after payment of all of First Republic’s secured obligations) being paid to the Debtors’ estates, and will consult with the Debtors and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (the “Committee”) in marketing and selling its collateral,” the bank states.
First Republic wants a hearing on the matter on Nov. 6.