Miramax Films

THE SKINNY
B.O. cume: $60 million
Toppers: Daniel Battsek, president; Keri Putnam, prexy, production; Michael Luisi, exec VP, business affairs
New Releases: “Renaissance” (Sept. 22), “The Queen” (Sept. 30), “Venus” (Dec. 15), “The Hoax” (Dec.); 2007: “The Lookout,” “Eagle vs. Shark,” “Becoming Jane,” “Gone, Baby, Gone”

Taking the reins at Disney specialty arm Miramax Films after the tumultuous departure of Bob and Harvey Weinstein seemed like an impossible task for any exec. But Daniel Battsek — imported from Buena Vista Intl. in the U.K. — has played the role well.

Battsek managed to fly under the radar to amass an impressive slate of pics — mostly thanks to producer Scott Rudin’s new deal with Disney — including Stephen Frears’ “The Queen” and Roger Michell’s “Venus.”

However, beyond any development phase, Battsek has had a tough time figuring out what American audiences want to see, as the Miramax slate has so far has yielded disappointing returns.

The company’s first acquisition, South African pic “Tsotsi,” managed to snare an Oscar win for foreign-language film but grossed less than $3 million theatrically. The unit’s quirky “Kinky Boots” stepped out to even less, not breaking the $2 million mark. Soccer pic “Once in a Lifetime” couldn’t manage to capitalize on any World Cup momentum. Sundance acquisitions “The Night Listener” also did less-than-expected biz.

Good news is that the company has yet to pull out its big guns — any of the Rudin pics, for starters.

Frears’ “Queen” is already being touted as an Oscar opportunity for lead Helen Mirren. Another kudos hopeful is Lasse Hallstrom’s “The Hoax,” starring Richard Gere.

Still, while made by critically lauded helmers, these pics could pose marketing challenges. It remains to be seen whether the kinder, gentler Miramax can make inroads at the box office.

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