Robin Williams

Kevin Smith Says Harvey Weinstein Shortened ‘Good Will Hunting’s Release to Mess With Robin Williams’ Deal

"Wait? There’s all this Oscar buzz, so why would you pull it if it was just making money?"

Since its release in 1998, Good Will Hunting has been a poster child for the indie movie scene. Comprised of unknown writers and lead actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, a well-known indie film director in Gus Van Sant, and Miramax, a studio who made its name producing films like ClerksPulp Fiction, and other films that, at the time, were seen as small independent projects that strayed away from the traditional Hollywood blockbuster. Throw in a big name like Robin Williams in a prominent, dramatic role, and you get two Oscars (Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor – Williams) and two launched careers. However, under the shiny veneer of success lies greed and maliciousness.

In Kevin Smith’s new book Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash, the writer/director, and executive producer of the 1998 Oscar-winning film, claims that Harvey Weinstein, head of Miramax at the time, pulled Good Will Hunting from the theaters early to screw with Williams’s back-end deal, which allegedly stipulated that if the film grossed over $100 million dollars at the box office, Williams would receive a greater percentage of the films gross, splitting that money with Miramax, “I’m not sure if it was a 50/50 split”, says Smith in an interview with The Daily Beast.

At the time the movie was pulled from theaters, it was doing exceptionally well. Smith recalls:

“I remember 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 [of] greed.”

The small indie darling was made on a budget of $10 million and ended up earning $225 million worldwide. The film earned nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Good Will Hunting follows Will Hunting (Damon) as an undiscovered math genius, who works as a janitor at MIT and is paired up with a therapist (Williams) to find the right direction for his life.

Prior to being mired by dozens of sexual misconduct and rape allegations, Weinstein was the gatekeeper for many up-and-comers in Hollywood and was seen as a powerful man within the industry. Smith has worked alongside Weinstein since Clerks debuted in 1994, but has since distanced himself from the disgraced producer.

Smith’s book Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash is available now.

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