New Miramax will look to acquire completed movies and other libraries

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Under its new chief executive Michael Lang, Miramax Films will initially seek to acquire completed films and eventually buy movie libraries.

In an interview Thursday soon after he was officially named CEO of the specialty film studio, Lang said that he plans to be active at film festivals beginning in 2012. And within a few years, he added, Miramax will look to acquire other film catalogs to boost its 700-plus picture collection.

Last week, the Miramax library and name was sold by Walt Disney Co. for $663 million to a group of investors led by Colony Capital and Ron Tutor.

‘We plan to stay active in acquisitions on an opportunistic basis,’ he said. ‘What has made this company so great in the past is its ability to attract exciting, emerging filmmakers, and I want us to continue that.’


Miramax will eventually return to film production as well, Lang said, but not in the foreseeable future.

A former News Corp. business development executive, Lang was tapped for the Miramax CEO job primarily to utilize his experience in television and digital distribution to make money off the studio’s library. He said he would hire executives with experience in acquisitions to handle that side of the business.

Because Miramax’s primary focus will be exploiting its library, Lang said Miramax won’t get involved in film production for at least two years, though it could partner with other studios for movies based on an existing pool of projects in development that were acquired from Disney. He said there are already talks underway for a number of potential pictures based on Miramax-owned projects or sequels of its library titles.

Most of the CEO’s attention since he was recruited by Colony principal Richard Nanula -- who is now chairman of Miramax and with whom Lang worked at Disney in the 1990s -- has been evaluating the library and exploring deals for it. Though other potential buyers concluded that the asking price for Miramax was too high, Lang said there remains significant opportunities in traditional media such as DVD and TV sales, but the most potential in the long term is online.

‘In digital we’re at the early stages of what will be an incredible growth area for the media business,’ he said. ‘That means looking at a library and trying to value it in the traditional way is no longer relevant. You can throw that out the window.’

Miramax is in talks about a distribution agreement with Google’s YouTube and other digital companies including Netflix, which Lang said could replace a traditional pay-TV deal with a network such as HBO or Showtime.

‘We will be on the cutting edge in terms of doing partnerships with digital companies like Netflix, Google or Hulu,’ he said.

In more traditional media, Lang said Miramax is in discussions with other studios about handling DVD distribution and is looking at numerous TV opportunities, particularly overseas. Until those deals are closed, Disney is handling those services for Miramax.

Lang said he is also in advanced discussions with two studios to each handle theatrical releases of two completed Miramax movies acquired from Disney: ‘The Debt,’ a thriller about a Nazi war criminal directed by ‘Shakespeare in Love’s’ John Madden, and ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,’ a horror film produced by ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ director Guillermo del Toro.

-- Ben Fritz


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