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Miramax inks with Alliance

Alliance Releasing president Victor Loewy confirmed Monday that the Toronto-based distribution company has reached a five-year, 50-picture Canadian distribution agreement with Miramax Films.

Miramax will sever ties with current distributor Canadian/Famous Players to enter into the Alliance agreement. It is expected Miramax will deliver its last pictures to CF/P in late June or early July, after which it will begin delivering movies to Alliance. The Alliance pact covers all Canadian rights, including video and TV.

The Alliance/Miramax pact also includes provisions for Miramax to distribute five Alliance-produced movies in the United States over the next five years and for partnerships between the two companies on feature film productions, Loewy said. A Miramax spokeswoman could not be reached for comment on the deal, but a company source said announcement of the Alliance pact was imminent.

In landing Miramax, Alliance has in tow two of the top independent distributors of specialized film product. The company has been exclusive Canadian distributor of Miramax’s arch rival New Line Cinema/Fine Line Features for many years. However, a NL source said the Miramax agreement will not interfere with its strong ties to Alliance.

Major competition

“We felt we need the bigger share of the independent marketplace simply because of the intense competition from the major studios,” said Loewy, adding that the additional Miramax product will allow the distributor to “better hold playdates” in Canadian multiplexes.

The Alliance distribution deal will cover the Canadian distribution of such coming Miramax product as director Robert Altman’s “Pret-a-Porter,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” Sean Penn’s “The Crossing Guard” and the Al Pacino-starrer “Two Bits.”

Specialized lead

Loewy said the Miramax pact “could double Alliance’s market share in the Canadian theatrical and video markets.” The company is already the country’s leading distributor of specialized films, commanding roughly 65%-75% of the specialized market.

Adding a production spin to the deal, Miramax and Alliance also plan to co-produce movies over the five-year life of the agreement through an equally funded development slate earmarked for new Canadian movies. Known for ubiquitous TV production, Alliance has recently stepped up to director Robert Longo’s pricey action/adventure movie “Johnny Mnemonic” (distributed by TriStar) and agreed to co-finance the next pic from “The Decline of the American Empire” and “Jesus of Montreal” director Denys Arcand.

The Miramax/Alliance agreement follows on the heels of Sony Pictures Classics’ decision to ankle its Canadian distribution agreement with Alliance and join forces with C/FP. Loewy said the contract with Alliance-distributed Samuel Goldwyn Co. is set to expire in 1994, but expressed confidence that renegotiations will lead to an extension between the two companies.

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