Miramax Intl. head expands his role

NEW YORK — Miramax Intl. prexy Richard Sands has added responsibility for domestic distribution in all media to his portfolio, and has been named chairman of worldwide distribution.

Sands joins Miramax founders and co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein as the only execs at the company to carry the title of chairman. His appointment follows prolonged negotiations, and ends speculation that Sands would be joining the ranks of veteran execs who have exited Miramax during the last year.

For the last three years, Sands has been responsible for supervising all international distribution, sales and marketing as president of Miramax Intl. He maintains those duties and adds responsibility for the domestic market, including theatrical, homevideo, television and new media. Now reporting to Sands are exec vice president of distribution Neil Blatt and newly hired senior vice president of distribution and general sales manager Elliott Slutzky.

Sands is no stranger to the domestic distribution business. Prior to joining Miramax, he spent 12 years at Columbia Pictures, where he rose from regional sales manager to head of Columbia’s domestic distribution division.

“This is an increasingly global business,” said Harvey Weinstein. “With Rick’s outstanding contributions to the growth of our theatrical, television and video markets internationally, we have the unique ability to bring his knowledge of worldwide distribution channels to our domestic market. Rick’s strategic experience will now be a key factor in Miramax’s continuing growth in the domestic marketplace.”

“This is an exciting and extremely challenging assignment that I am very proud to have taken on,” said Sands. “Bob and Harvey Weinstein have the keenest sense of the subtleties of the worldwide market of any studio heads in the business, along with the drive to extract the maximum from every opportunity, and to invent new opportunities along the way.”

Following a string of departures earlier this year that included Miramax president of production and television Allen Sabinson, senior veepee of acquisitions Eamonn Bowles and senior VP of communications Donna Daniels, the Weinsteins during the last two months have moved to cement their relationships with remaining key execs such as Sands. Among the recent executive shifts at Miramax:

Miramax president of marketing Mark Gill was given the opportunity to move from New York to the West Coast and was named to the new position of president of the company’s L.A. office;

Cary Granat was promoted to president of Dimension Films, the company’s hugely successful genre franchise overseen by Bob Weinstein;

Former exec VP of acquisitions Trea Hoving, who resigned in May to take a sabbatical, was lured back with a deal that gave her and former Channel 4 execs David Aukin and Colin Leventhal (who is married to Hoving) equity and profit participation in a newly formed U.K. company.

Still out on sabbatical is exec veepee marketing and publicity Marcy Granata, who has taken a leave of absence through the end of the year.

Sands joined Miramax Intl. in 1994 as exec vice president and chief financial officer, and was instrumental in the negotiations that resulted in Miramax’s acquisition by the Walt Disney Co. Prior to that, he was exec veepee and CFO for RHI Entertainment, where he helped engineer the sale of the company to Hallmark Entertainment.

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