Weinstein brothers ‘may buy back Miramax’
What goes around really might come around in Hollywood. US reports suggest that recently-closed studio Miramax could be bought back from Disney by its founders, the Weinstein brothers, within months.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Disney was looking to cut loose the film-making unit, which was once the toast of the arthouse film-making community, having produced Oscar-winning hits such as The English Patient, Good Will Hunting and Pulp Fiction. Since Bob and Harvey Weinstein left in 2005, its record has been less successful, and Disney recently announced major cutbacks.
The sibling producers formed a new firm, The Weinstein Company, following a dispute with Disney over its refusal to release Michael Moore's George W Bush-bating documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. The move was believed to be the final straw for Harvey Weinstein, who had repeatedly clashed with then Disney chief Michael Eisner.
According to The Wrap blog the Weinsteins have now been approached by two hedge funds with a proposal to purchase Miramax as a joint venture. If the sale went ahead, it would no doubt prove a source of contentment for the brothers, who named the firm they founded in 1979 after their parents, Max and Miriam. They sold the company to Disney in 1993, but stayed on as co-chief executives until the acrimonious divorce five years ago.
The LA Times reported that seven to 10 bidders were interested in purchasing Miramax, though it did not name them all. Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the successful teen romance franchise Twilight, is said to be in the running, as are several private equity groups and at least one other independent studio.
Miramax's library of more than 700 films reportedly brings in more than $300m in DVD and television revenue alone each year, though that figure is disputed. However, the firm is not what it once was: In October, Disney announced it was cutting staff numbers by 70%, and reducing the number of releases from between six and eight to just three films per year. The unit's New York-based marketing, distribution and administrative functions, which had operated independently, were folded into those of the parent studio in Burbank, California, last month.
An unnamed Disney executive told the Wrap they had no knowledge of the Weinstein brothers' interest, but said they saw no reason in principle why a sale might not go ahead.
Source: Guardian Online