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Miramax

Post-'Chicago' slate mixes big with small

Arguably now an indie company in the historical sense alone, the Weinsteins’ shop appears to have settled on a workably schizophrenic formula.

Miramax churns out a handful of major studio-style pics each year, while continuing to acquire the kind of smaller, more idiosyncratic pictures — both English — and foreign-lingo — that built the house, such as “Dirty Pretty Things,” “The Magdalene Sisters” and “City of God.”

Company bounced back from a slow 2002 season with late-in-the-year critical and commercial glory for Oscar laureate “Chicago” and “Gangs of New York,” which co-chairman Harvey Weinstein says has returned a profit despite the hefty investment.

Rumors persist about friction with corporate parent Disney, but no sign of tangible rupture has emerged and the two now seem like fractious but functional bedfellows. Furthering the impression of a move to studio-style operations, Miramax and genre division Dimension are becoming increasingly active in split-rights deals with majors and other deep-pocketed partners on their growing slate of tentpole pics.

Exec ranks: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, co-chairmen; Rick Sands, chief operations officer; Bob Osher and Meryl Poster, co-prexies, production; Agnes Mentre, exec VP, acquisitions and co-production

First looks: Bait & Switch (Scott Kramer); Fragile Films (Barnaby Thompson, Uri Fruchtman); John Madden; Tapestry (Peter Abrams, Robert Levy); View Askew Prods. (Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier); Hossein Amini; Quentin Tarantino

Recent pickups: “Jet Lag,” “The Magdalene Sisters,” “Valentin” (Toronto); “Station Agent” (Sundance); “I’m Not Scared” (Berlin); “The Barbarian Invasions,” “Twin Sisters” (Cannes); “The I Inside” and “Teacher Mr. Krim” (for Dimension)

Year at B.O.: Top grosser: “Chicago” ($169.4 million); lowest grosser: “Only the Strong Survive” ($48,457)

Kudo watch: “Cold Mountain,” starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law; Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” with Uma Thurman; “Human Stain,” starring Kidman and Anthony Hopkins; Peter Mullan’s “The Magdalene Sisters”; and “City of God,” which will be re-issued after missing foreign-lingo nom last year.