Kevin Smith claims that Harvey Weinstein purposefully harmed Robin Williams’ salary by releasing Good Will Hunting in theatres.
Smith knew Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the creators of Good Will Hunting, from his previous picture, Chasing Amy and is credited with bringing the script to Weinstein’s attention. Miramax, of which Weinstein is a co-founder, distributed the film.
The film Good Will Hunting was released in 1997 and stars Damon as Will Hunting, a 20-year-old MIT janitor with a genius IQ level. Williams portrayed Dr. Sean Maguire, a significant mentor figure for Will. Williams won his only Oscar in his nearly 40-year career for his performance. Smith worked on the picture as a co-executive producer.
According to ET Canada, Kevin Smith says in his new book, Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash, that Weinstein and Miramax purposely pulled the film from theatres early so Williams would be paid less. According to Smith, Williams signed a contract that said that if the film grossed more than $100 million at the box office; he would receive a higher percentage of the entire income.
This means that once it reaches that level, Williams and Miramax will split the proceeds. The picture grossed $272,912 in its first weekend at the box office. Despite the agreement, Weinstein did not appear to be committed to any of it.
Good Will Hunting rapidly ascended the box office rankings until Miramax pulled movies from theatres at the end of February 1998. Smith’s allegations were backed up by the fact that the film’s box office receipts were nearing $90 million at the time. Smith argues that greed was their sole motivator, and he elaborates in the following quote:
Williams’ performance in Good Will Hunting is widely regarded as one of his best
“I remember 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?'” he wrote in the new book. “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.”
Good Will Hunting had generated $133 million in domestic box office sales by the time movie closed in April 1998. From a $10 million budget, it went on to gross $225.9 million worldwide. Good Will Hunting was Robin Williams’ third highest-grossing film at the time, with nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actor for Williams.
When Smith first learned of the attacks in 2008, he discontinued his working connection with Weinstein, according to Smith. While Smith believes Weinstein and Miramax ruined Williams’ earnings from Good Will Hunting; it had little effect on how well his performance was received. Williams’ performance in Good Will Hunting is widely regarded as one of his best. Aside from the good critical response; fans were captivated by the chemistry between Williams and Damon, as well as Williams’ honest portrayal of the character.