Weinstein Co. and Miramax ink film, television production pact
Harvey and Bob Weinstein are getting the reunion they’ve long sought.
The brothers’ film company, Weinstein Co., has struck a production and distribution deal with Miramax, the iconic firm they founded in 1979 that has been responsible for critical and commercial hits including “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Chicago.”
Under terms of the 20-year co-production and co-distribution agreement, the companies will collaborate on a variety of projects that mine Miramax’s film library, in addition to developing new content. The deal encompasses film, television and live stage projects, the companies said in a statement Monday morning.
The Weinsteins sold Miramax to Walt Disney Co. in 1993, and remained involved with it until 2005, when they departed to found their namesake production company. In 2010, the brothers tried to buy Miramax back from Disney, but lost out to a group of investors led by Colony Capital, the private equity firm led by Thomas J. Barrack Jr., and Qatar Holding, the investment vehicle of the Qatari royal family.
Those owners have not focused on making new films but instead have sought to exploit Miramax’s rich film library of more than 700 movies, cutting deals with outlets such as Netflix and Hulu. Although Miramax has said this business has been lucrative, the company’s direction has been a disappointment for Hollywood’s creative community, which hoped Miramax, under new ownership, would be revived as the major moviemaking concern it had been.
As part of the deal, New York-based Weinstein Co. will handle domestic distribution of movies made under the agreement, and Miramax, headquartered in Santa Monica, will handle international sales of the titles. The pact could result in sequels to such pictures as “Swingers” and “Shakespeare in Love,” the companies said.
The partnership will also result in the development of television series based on Miramax films, including “Good Will Hunting” and “Flirting with Disaster.” Weinstein Co. will handle domestic TV distribution, while Miramax will head up international distribution.
Production of Miramax-Weinstein projects would begin as soon as early 2014, the companies said.
Reuniting the Weinsteins with Miramax could restore some luster to the firm, which was acquired by its current owners in December 2010 for $663 million.
The Qatar-Colony ownership tenure has been tumultuous, peppered with the departure of two key executives and the exit of an owner.
In March 2012, then Chief Executive Mike Lang departed Miramax a little more than a year after assuming his post. Then in January, one of the original investors in Qatar and Colony’s group, construction magnate Ron Tutor, sold his interest in Miramax.
In July, Miramax Chairman Richard Nanula resigned after two websites published video images of a man they identified as Nanula having sex with an adult-film actress. A subsequent profile of Nanula published by The Times in August detailed an alleged sexual encounter that another porn actress said she filmed with the executive.
Barrack, who has served as Miramax’s chairman since Nanula’s exit, praised the Weinstein brothers in a statement.
“Reuniting Harvey and Bob with the acres of cinematic diamonds that is the Miramax library, and combining the two companies’ powerful distribution capabilities, will create an unparalleled partnership in cinematic excellence,” Barrack said.
In a statement, the brothers, co-chairmen of their namesake firm, thanked Miramax’s owners for reuniting them with the company named for their mother, Miriam, and their late father, Max.
“We salute Qatar Holding and Tom Barrack of Colony Capital for joining forces in this most exciting of endeavors,” the brothers said. “From movies to TV shows to the Broadway stage they have reinvigorated Miramax productions and to have the Miramax banner fly once again is a dream come true for all of us.”
Miriam Weinstein, mother of Bob and Harvey, also praised the owners of Miramax for cutting the deal to bring the company “actively back into my life and making a dream come true.”
“No one would be happier than Harvey and Bob’s late father, Max,” she said in a statement. “This is truly a lucky partnership for all involved, for filmmakers and hopefully lucky for filmgoers all over the world.”
Though Miramax hasn’t been focused on film production as of late, it has cut a handful of television deals. In March, Miramax said that it was partnering with production company GK Films and director Martin Scorsese to develop a television version of Scorsese’s 2002 film “Gangs of New York.”
And the company does have one movie project that is already in the works: Miramax is co-producing “The Wedding Ringer” with Screen Gems. The comedy from director Jeremy Garelick recently completed production.
[Updated, 8:56 a.m. PST Dec. 16: Harvey Weinstein told The Times that he is excited to have access to the “many jewels in the library,” adding that there is value not just in Miramax’s completed films but also in its many development projects. “There are hundreds of scripts to decipher and remember, and find out why they were loved in the first place,” he said.
Weinstein said that he’s interested in making sequels to some of Miramax’s movies, including a follow-up to the 1998 poker drama “Rounders.”
“I never have made a sequel ever -- my brother has made all the sequels,” he said. “I’d like to have at least a ‘2' in my epitaph.”
Barrack told The Times that he’d been “chasing Harvey for a long time.”
“This summer, Harvey and I were with our families, talking about what a great job he had done with the Weinstein Co. TWC was now in a great position for domestic distribution and he had time and capacity to focus on other things,” Barrack said.]
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