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New Miramax may distribute library through YouTube

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The soon-to-be owners of Miramax are looking at a deal with Google Inc. to generate revenue from the independent film studio’s 700-film library, a person familiar with the matter said.

The deal talks are a signal that under former News Corp. executive Mike Lang, who is expected to become chief executive of Miramax once a sale to Ron Tutor and Colony Capital closes next month, Miramax will be looking to new digital distribution platforms to generate profits from its content. While at News Corp., Lang focused on the company’s Internet businesses such as Hulu, MySpace and IGN.

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Tutor, Colony and their partners agreed in July to pay $660 million to acquire Miramax.

Should it come to fruition, the Miramax partnership would be the most significant deal signed by a pair of content acquisition executives named to top posts at Google in September: former Netflix executive Robert Kyncl and Dean Gilbert, who was promoted from vice president of product management for Google TV.

The Miramax catalog, which includes such well-known titles as ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ will likely be available on Google’s YouTube video site as well as through its Google TV Internet software for televisions. Users might be able to watch the films for free with advertising or pay to rent or purchase them.

Updated at 3:08 p.m.: However, existing deals with pay cable networks would limit the number of films that Google would be able to distribute, said another person with knowledge of the talks. Cable networks like Starz lock up exclusive rights to movies for as long as 14 years after a movie’s theatrical release, this person said.

Google is increasingly looking to compete with Netflix, Apple and other companies to be the dominant provider of video content through the Internet, particularly as more people abandon DVDs for digital delivery.

The talks were first reported by the New York Post.

Updated: A YouTube spokesman declined to comment.

-- Ben Fritz

Related:

YouTube, Google dial up premium content, ogle studios with new management team

New Miramax closing in on CEO, other senior executives

Disney agrees to sell Miramax to investor group led by Ron Tutor


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