Move emphasizes focus on digital distribution

Miramax, stressing its increased emphasis on digital platforms, has signed a multi-year non-exclusive distribution deal with Netflix that will make Miramax titles available starting next month.

Financial terms were not disclosed with the companies noting that Netflix members will be able to instantly watch several hundred Miramax movies, with dozens of titles being added on a rotating basis.

The availability of specific titles at a specific date wasn’t disclosed but the companies said the movies can be watched on multiple platforms, including TV, tablet, computer and mobile phones.

The companies made the joint announcement Monday — the same day that Miramax invited 150 international distribution execs to a private beach at Cap d’Antibes, where they schmoozed with Miramax execs including Miramax chairman and Colony Capital principal Richard Nanula and strategic adviser-investor Rob Lowe.

“Netflix is thrilled to enter into this deal with the new team at Miramax,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “Existing relationships with management and a shared affinity for these great films make this an important deal for both companies and for our members, who will enjoy instantly watching movies from one of the truly great film libraries for many years to come.”

Mike Lang, CEO of Miramax, told Variety that the deal’s been in the works since late last year prior to Filmyard Holdings closing its $663 million purchase of the company from Disney. He also said that the Netflix transaction is a signal that Miramax is heading toward making other digital distribution deals.

“From day one, we’ve been very clear about the importance of digital and our desire to respond to the significant pent-up demand for our films — delivering to consumers whenever and wherever they want,” Lang said. “This agreement is an important first step in our digital strategy. Netflix has always been a trailblazer, with a tremendous track record of innovation and quality customer service. We’re thrilled to now be in business with them as we build and revitalize the proud Miramax brand.”

The deal covers “The English Patient,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “Bad Santa,” “Chasing Amy,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Clerks,” “Cold Mountain,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Muriel’s Wedding,” “The Piano,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Reindeer Games” and many of the “Halloween,” “Scary Movie,” “Scream” and “Spy Kids” titles.

Miramax reached a deal in February with Lionsgate and StudioCanal on worldwide distribution rights to more than 550 library titles. About 50 of those titles will be out on Blu-ray later this year.

Lang, a former News Corp. and Fox exec, most recently was a consultant to Filmyard in its acquisition of Miramax. Before that, he played key roles in the formation of the MySpace Music joint venture and the launch of Hulu. He was also involved with Fox’s mobile, digital and videogame initiatives after joining the company in 2004.

He emphasized that he has an ambitious blueprint for all Miramax content to be available across an array of digital devices.

As for Netflix, it partnered with Relativity in July in a deal to bring Relativity-owned films to Netflix’s growing base. One month later, Netflix finalized a five-year, $900 million deal with Epix pay cabler — two years in the making — that allows Netflix subscribers to stream Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM films during the pay TV window.

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