William-Jones steps down after less than a year

NEW YORK — After less than a year as prexy of Miramax Intl., industry vet and onetime UIP chief Michael Williams-Jones will step down March 1 from the mini-major’s U.K.-based operation.

Williams-Jones joined Miramax last March, ending a self-imposed industry sabbatical that dated back to 1996. Exec had been prexy-CEO of United Intl. Pictures since 1981.

The development comes as contract talks between Miramax co-heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein are said to be wrapping up with the Walt Disney Co.

Williams-Jones is one of a handful of execs to have stepped down during the Disney talks. Former Miramax chief operating officer and company vet Rick Sands assumed his duties as prexy and chief operating officer of DreamWorks last month.

The London-based office will remain open despite Williams-Jones’ departure, but could be shuttered later in the year as the Weinsteins’ talks with Disney shake out.

Williams-Jones ankles on a high note at Miramax, which was projected to break its all-time international box office record for 2004. In December, Miramax Intl. said it had racked up nearly $560 million from a 38-film slate in overseas territories. That performance put the division ahead of the previous year’s $508 million from 47 movies.

“We are truly grateful for Michael’s considerable contributions to Miramax Intl.’s success this year,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement Tuesday. “Michael joined the company to lead and further develop our international interests, and he has more than achieved these goals.”

Williams-Jones headed United Artists Intl. in the 1970s before taking the reins of UIP.

Los Angeles-based Miramax Intl. exec veep Jere Hausfater will take the lead on international activities.

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