Miramax fights Bac

Mini-major files suits in flap over output pact

PARIS — Miramax has filed lawsuits in New York and Paris against French production-distribution company Bac Majestic after the latter accused the Gotham mini-major of improperly ending their output deal early.

Additionally, Miramax has asked for an AFMA arbitration with Bac for unpaid minimum guarantees plus overages on 14 titles.

Bac is still reeling from being broadsided at this year’s Cannes Film Festival when Miramax announced a joint distrib venture with French broadcaster TF1. Bac’s deal with Miramax was to run through September 2003.

“Miramax does not have the right to break the contract unilaterally,” Bac general manager Alain Mamou-Mani said Tuesday. “As far as we’re concerned we still have a contract with them.”

The suit, filed two weeks ago in New York, is just a technicality, Miramax worldwide distribution topper Rick Sands said. “We’re getting an affirmation from a New York court that we terminated our contract with Bac for just cause.”

The suit filed in Paris last week by Miramax against Bac subsidiary Wild Side Videos is for payments the mini-major never received from the sublicensing of French video rights to “Spy Kids,” “Scary Movie II” and “Malena” to Universal.

In a preliminary ruling Monday, the judge ordered Bac to pay Miramax’s approximately $2 million minimum guarantee to a court bailiff until a final verdict is decided.

“We’re satisfied with the judge’s ruling,” Sands said. “We in no way wanted to interfere with the exploitation of the movies.”

The AFMA arbitration concerns monies Miramax alleges that it is owed by Bac on 14 titles including “La Vie est Belle,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Chocolat,” “Scream” and “Spy Kids.”

Bac, which revealed in May that it was carrying €13 million ($12.8 million) of debt, just received a cash infusion from Belgian businessman Michel Litwak for that amount, and intends to fight the suits.

“Now we’ve recapitalized and have a budget to fight them,” Mamou-Mani said. “Miramax tried to annihilate us. It’s the classic scenario of a powerful company trying to take advantage of a weaker one.”

In its new financial arrangement, Bac becomes a holding of Messine, an investment company owned 75% by Litwak and 25% by Bac prexy Jean Labadie. Messine will hold a stake in Bac valued between 65.1% and 82.4%.

Latwik becomes Messine’s prexy, while Labadie, as the holding company’s managing director, will continue to run Bac. Messine will not be involved in any creative decisions at the company.

(Liza Klaussmann contributed to this report.)

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Biz News from Variety