Overview: In 2004, perhaps more ink was expended on the fates of Miramax co-toppers Bob and Harvey Weinstein than on the mini-major’s entire release schedule. Uncertainty caused by the Weinsteins’ very public rift with parent Walt Disney Co. — still unsettled at year’s end — cost the studio some key longtime staffers, including COO Rick Sands, who moved onto DreamWorks.
Winners and losers: Miramax took a big hit when Disney blocked the Weinsteins’ distribution of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which went on to pull in $120 million for Lions Gate. But the combo of Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” two-parter and the Jet Li starrer “Hero” put some kick back into Miramax’s bottom line. Ditto for year-enders “Finding Neverland,” “The Aviator” and the long-shelved “Darkness,” which saw light on Christmas Day and drew many happy returns from horror fans.
Awards prospects: If and when the Weinsteins wave goodbye to Disney, they could be doing it with armloads of statuettes. “The Aviator” and “Finding Neverland” figure to be in the awards mix, while “Kill Bill” could pack a surprise punch or two.
The year ahead: As 2004 drew to a close, Harvey Weinstein was publicly surrounding himself with powerful financial figures, the kind of people capable of backing a new venture. If the Weinsteins leave, the question is whether they’ll be able to take along upcoming projects like Robert Rodriguez’s star-studded comicbook adaptation “Sin City,” Wes Craven’s hip horror pic “Cursed” and the Jennifer Aniston vehicle “Derailed.”