Warner/Chappell Music acquires rights to library

Warner/Chappell Music has acquired publishing and masters rights to Miramax’s film music, taking advantage of a lucrative and sometimes overlooked element of movie assets.

Miramax announced the deal with Warner/Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, on Tuesday. Company did not disclose terms of the agreement, but one insider estimates the pact could be worth $10 million-$20 million for Miramax’s 700-plus film titles.

Music library includes tunes from “The Cider House Rules,” “Chicago,” “Cold Mountain” and “Frida,” as well as work from Oscar-winning composers including Howard Shore, Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, Gabriel Yared and Rachel Portman and Danny Elfman.

While music rights can be sold off like other ancillary rights, they don’t always get the same attention as homevideo or television licensing.

“Music is the poor stepchild of the movie business,” said attorney Doug Mark, the owner of Mark Music Media Law, whose composer clients have included Elfman, Atticus Ross and Alexandre Desplat. Mark notes that relative to other costs and revenues associated with a film, “music is relatively small potatoes,” and studios often do not focus the same energy on exploiting tune libraries as they would on other licensing and costs.

“The move Miramax just made by selling its music rights to a company that specializes in the promotion and administration of music rights might well be good for everybody, because now that music is in the hands of people whose livelihood is devoted to the nurturing and exploitation of music,” Mark said.

The primary factor in determining the value of any piece of music, of course, is how often it plays. For movies and TV shows, much of the value of music rights is derived from runs in international TV markets, Mark added.

In a statement, Mitzi Reaugh, Miramax’s senior veep of business development and strategy, said the company was pleased with the agreement, which would allow Miramax to “continue to focus on our studio and our films, our core creative product.”

Licensing that product helped Miramax close a rare film asset-backed securitization last year — a deal which raised $500 million and valued the company at $813 million. Two years ago, a group of investors led by construction magnate Ron Tutor and Colony Capital purchased Miramax from Disney for $663 million, including about $50 million in cash.

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