Miramax chief Daniel Battsek is ousted

Daniel Battsek, head of Walt Disney Co.'s specialty label Miramax Films, has been forced out after a series of flops failed to turn around the struggling company, whose brighter moments included such prestige movies as “No Country for Old Men,” “The Queen” and “Doubt.”

Battsek’s departure comes on the heels of Disney’s move this month to slash 70% of Miramax’s staff, to 20 people, and drastically cut the number of movies it releases to only three annually. Miramax’s marketing and distribution were also consolidated into the larger Walt Disney Studios.

Battsek, who Disney initially indicated would continue to run Miramax from New York, was attending the London Film Festival and was noticeably absent when most of his staff was let go.

Now, by the end of January, Disney will shut down Miramax’s New York headquarters and Los Angeles office on Sunset Boulevard and maintain a small staff on the studio’s Burbank lot. Battsek, an 18-year veteran of Disney, will remain at the company until then.

Disney, in a statement, said Battsek’s departure had been “reached by mutual agreement.” But Disney had lost confidence in his ability to pick box-office winners and wanted him to step aside, people familiar with the situation said.


Battsek did not respond to a request for comment.

Chosen to run Miramax four years ago by then-Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook -- who also recently was ousted -- Battsek had a weak track record recently with such misses as “The Boys Are Back,” Mike Judge’s “Extract” and “Cheri,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Several of his films, however, including Oscar best-picture winner “No Country for Old Men,” won accolades.

Disney did not name a replacement.