Kevin Smith has accused disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sabotaging Good Will Hunting’s successful theatrical run in order to prevent a big payday for Robin Williams, whose deal was tied to the box office results.
Smith was a co-executive producer of Good Will Hunting, for which Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Smith is known for being candid and has often told behind-the-scenes stories about actors and other crew members he has worked with. In his latest book, Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash, he explains that Good Will Hunting was doing well at the box office and could have continued in theatres for longer. However, Weinstein pulled the film to prevent Robin Williams from gaining a larger share of the profits.
Williams was the big draw to the film at the time, with Damon and Affleck being in the early stages of their careers. It was Williams’ name that had sold so many tickets, but Weinstein allegedly did not want him to benefit from a potentially huge pay-day if the film crossed a certain threshold.
In an interview with the Daily Beast about his new book, Smith explains; “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.”
He continues; “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 theatres 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 theatres 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.”
Robin Williams won the Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting and sadly passed away in August 2014. In February 2020, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape. Kevin Smith is currently working on Clerks III.