CANNES — Miramax is laying the financial groundwork for a significant increase in the production of tentpole pictures.
After whetting its appetite last year with Martin Scorsese’s $100 million “Gangs of New York,” company’s chief operations officer Rick Sands and exec veep and office of the co-chairman Charles Layton said Sunday that Miramax is looking for equity and/or studio partners on a number of its bigger-budgeted titles.
Though exact numbers were not available, Miramax is expected to up its ante to produce two to three tentpoles a year and seek a further two or three a year from its sister company Dimension for its slate of 25 pics a year.
Films identified as looking for studio or equity partners include “The Green Hornet,” the tale of the iconic crimefighter for which scribe Scott Smith has recently been hired; the adaptation of George Selden’s classic kids yarn “The Cricket in Times Square”; “Artemis Fowl,” the adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s book being produced by Tribeca Films’ Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro; and the “Bartimaeus” children’s fantasy trilogy, which was picked up in a $3 million publishing and film rights deal.
While Miramax execs are scouring the Croisette for potential arthouse pickups, its senior management is also locked in financial and presale meetings to bankroll its bigger-budgeted fare.
“We’re not turning our back on where we came from,” Sands said. “We’re here looking for movies.”
More tension with Disney
Move to boost production of tentpoles could increase tensions between Miramax and parent company the Walt Disney Co., which have been rising of late.
There have been clashes between Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and Disney CEO Michael Eisner over Weinstein’s decision to go it alone on the $80 million-plus “Cold Mountain” after MGM pulled out of the pic.
Miramax’s shift in strategy could potentially put the company in further conflict with Disney, though Miramax execs deny this would come to pass.
“There will be no impact for Disney if we do this,” Sands said. “The same rule book applies. All we are considering doing is managing our risk differently on these bigger pictures with equity or studio partners rather than just through territorial sales.”
Though Miramax will continue to do territorial sales on pics through its newly promoted head of international Stuart Ford, Layton points out there is a limit to how much coin can be raised through presales due to changes in the international marketplace.
Miramax is partnered with Graham King’s Initial Entertainment Group on Scorsese’s Howard Hughes pic “The Aviator” and with Spyglass Entertainment on the remake of “Shall We Dance.”
Dimension is partnered with WB on “Starsky and Hutch” and with MGM on “Brothers Grimm.”