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Miramax mines digital gold

Company earns dividends from exploitation of library

Miramax’s aggressive digital exploitation of its library is starting to pay dividends.

The company has inked more than half a dozen digital distribution deals since new owners took over the library last year – including Monday’s announcement of a pact with Brazilian subsciption-based service NetMovies – and now Miramax is in the market to securitize its assets.

The securitization, which Bloomberg reports will total $550 million, will allow Miramax’s owners to monetize the library’s assets quickly — and that includes those distribution contracts Miramax has inked with players including Netflix and Hulu as well as cashflows from future deals. And, according to Bloomberg, it will allow Miramax to pay a $142 million dividend to investor Colony Capital.

Film-backed securitizations are not common, and usually include the production of future movies. Company has not produced any pics since a group of investors purchased it in 2010. A refinancing so quickly, and without new product, could signal that new investors are banking on the future worth of Miramax’s older assets. While Miramax declined to comment on future production plans, many observers wonder how long the company can go without more aggressively acquiring or producing new product.

While Hollywood started buzzing several years ago that streaming and digital platforms might beef up film values, few were willing to lend against those projections as very few deals were being made in the space. The proliferation of digital licensing deals over the last few years however, especially from major players like Netflix, Amazon and Google, have led some investors to believe in the long-term value of older content.

The consortium of investors purchased Miramax from Disney for about $600 million last year. At the time, many observers doubted that the new owners could make their money back. Calculating library values now is tricky – evaluations must take into account the realized value of older assets and make estimations for packaged media, a complicated task given the decline in home entertainment revenues in recent years.

And while digital dimes aren’t making up for losses in packaged media dollars, they’ve certainly helped Miramax. Since coming under new ownership, the comapny

has inked deals with platforms including Netflix, Hulu, Lionsgate and Facebook, making some naysayers rethinking that opinion.

The Miramax securitization is backed by the company’s library of more than 700 films, including “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient” and “Pulp Fiction.” Beginning Dec. 1, NetMovies will make the titles available on a variety of platforms including PCs, Macs, Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, iOS and Android tablets. Company will also provide titles on video game consoles in the near future.

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