Warner Bros., Financier Ratner Part Ways After Harassment Claims
(Bloomberg) -- Brett Ratner, the film producer who backed a key financing deal with Warner Bros., said he will step back from dealings with the studio in light of allegations of sexual harassment.
Six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, told the Los Angeles Times that Ratner had sexually harassed or assaulted them. Through his stake in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Ratner had a deal to finance as many as 75 of the Hollywood studio’s biggest titles, including this year’s blockbuster “Wonder Woman.” RatPac-Dune investors have included investor Len Blavatnik and, until earlier this year, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities,” Ratner, who has denied the allegations, said in an emailed statement from the office of his lawyer Martin Singer. “I don’t want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved.”
The filmmaker is the latest to be accused in a mushrooming scandal about sexual misconduct in Hollywood. After the revelation by the New York Times that Harvey Weinstein, the Oscar-winning producer, had harassed and assaulted several women, allegations of improprieties have emerged against high-profile figures including actor Kevin Spacey and Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, who later resigned. Studios, distributors and other companies are being forced to address allegations speedily.
“We are aware of the allegations in the LA Times and are reviewing the situation,” Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc., said Wednesday in a statement.
Ratner, the director of “Rush Hour,” used his clout in Hollywood to co-found RatPac Entertainment with Australian billionaire James Packer, and agreed in 2013 to co-finance the Warner Bros. movies with Dune Entertainment. Mnuchin led Dune at the time and sold his stake this year. Titles backed by the venture include “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Dunkirk.”
Hollywood studios use outside financiers to reduce the risk of movie-making. In April, Packer sold his stake to Access Industries, the conglomerate owned by billionaire Blavatnik.
Earlier Wednesday, Ratner denied via his lawyer “the outrageous derogatory allegations that have been reported about him.”
“We are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims,” his attorney, Singer, said in an emailed statement. “He understands the seriousness of this issue and the importance of addressing the concerns of victims of sexual misconduct both in the entertainment industry and beyond.”
The co-financing deal with RatPac-Dune expires next spring and Ratner will have no say in what films it backed as a passive investor in the venture, a person with knowledge with the situation said. Ratner was producing potentially high-profile movies for Warner Bros., including “The Goldfinch,” the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt.
Ratner will be moved off the project, said the person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. His “first-look” production deal with Warner Bros. has expired and won’t be renewed, and Ratner will no longer rent an office on the studio’s storied Burbank, California, lot, the person said. “The Goldfinch” will be distributed by Warner Bros and Amazon Studios.
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