New details about an alleged feud between Harvey Weinstein and Robin Williams have been revealed. According to filmmaker Kevin Smith, who served as a co-executive producer on Good Will Hunting, Weinstein pulled the movie from theaters early despite its continuing box office and critical success. This was allegedly done just to prevent paying out more to one of its lead stars in Williams, whose deal to appear in Good Will Hunting was tied into its box office performance.
Kevin Smith made the revelation public in his new book, Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash. He elaborated on the subject in an interview with The Daily Beast, pointing the blame squarely at Harvey Weinstein for cutting Good Will Hunting‘s run in movie theaters short when it could have done even better. As Smith explains, Williams would have gotten a bigger chunk of the profits if the movie surpassed a certain number, and Harvey Weinstein wasn’t having it.
“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.”
Kevin Smith says how he was initially stunned when he first heard about the decision to pull Good Will Hunting from theaters. The movie was an instant hit with both critics and casual filmgoers, earning universal praise with word-of-mouth generating more and more ticket sales. According to Smith, he did a little digging to get the real reason, which he says was essentially to hog the profits while giving Williams the smallest piece of the pie possible.
“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.”
Robin Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon also winning for Best Original Screenplay. While certainly not as comedic as most of Williams’ other roles, the movie is regarded as one of Williams’ best, showcasing his range of talents as an actor. Williams sadly died in 2014, though he was recently trending after footage of Jamie Costa performing an uncanny impersonation of the late comedian went viral.
Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash is now on sale. The full interview with the filmmaker, who’s currently in post-production on Clerks III, can be read at The Daily Beast.