Harvey Weinstein was once at the very top of Hollywood. As accusations of his sexual predation came to light, it didn’t just trigger his downfall. It ushered in a tidal wave of exposure of sexual impropriety in the film industry.
How did he get away with it for so long?
To begin to answer the complex question of how movie mogul Harvey Weinstein could allegedly harass and assault women for decades without detection — 83 have now stepped forward, triggering a cascade of accusations against Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., James Toback, Brett Ratner, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, among others — is to understand the ever-evolving Hollywood power structure and how movies get made.
Major studios rule Hollywood, but Harvey Weinstein stood out for his Oscar clout
Six corporate-owned major studios remain at the top of the Hollywood movie pyramid: Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney and Warner Bros. All serve as one-stop production houses — producing, marketing, publicizing and distributing big-budget films such as Justice League, Warner/DC Films’ latest superhero movie.
The bottom line-oriented majors rely on safe, tested concepts, with release schedules that are heavy on sequels, franchises and branded content (from Rocky to Harry Potter) — the so-called “tentpole” movies that are reliable moneymakers in an era when cinemas face strong headwinds.
“If you look at the constantly moving power among Hollywood studios, producers and directors, the pendulum has swung over to the big studios right now,” says Stephen Galloway, executive editor of features for The Hollywood Reporter.
Weinstein became a larger-than-life figure in Hollywood as co-founder of the “mini-majors” Miramax (started in 1979) and The Weinstein Company (2005), producing and distributing awards-friendly films.
The domineering studio head was able to amass tremendous influence with his strong personality, his ability to identify and champion artistic projects, and his track record of Oscar success — the latter cemented when Weinstein’s Shakespeare in Love was a shock best-picture winner over Steven Spielberg’s heavily favored…