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Tutor, Colony on track for Miramax buy

Investors say financing firm for purchase

As Miramax enters its next phase under Filmyard’s Ron Tutor, Tom Barrack and Qatar Holding, the spotlight shines on how library’s new owners will monetize its 700-odd titles.

News of Disney’s $663 million sale comes amid reports that Filmyard had already held talks with Netflix and Google, who have been building up banks of pic rights for digital streaming in recent months. Miramax titles include “The English Patient,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

There has also been speculation that Filmyard will put a hold on production and acquisition for the next year or so and instead focus on exploiting the library, particularly digital rights for the pics.

Company started ramping up its inhouse staff in October, tapping former News Corp. business development exec Mike Lang as CEO. Lang, a digital media vet, played a key role in News Corp.’s acquisition of MySpace and the creation of Hulu.

David Bergstein, Tutor’s sometime partner in the movie business, is not expected to have a leadership role in the company.

Deal comes after months of negotiations and financial wrangling to finance the purchase. Comerica Bank, Bank of America and Union Bank were initially expected to take part in the transaction. Tutor told the Associated Press on Friday that Barclays had taken over as lead bank in the financing.

In July, the Mouse House said it would sell Miramax to Filmyard for $660 million, subject to certain adjustments. Tutor, Colony and Qatar are expected to pony up the largest share of the $663 million, while $100 million more will come from other investors. Miramax already had $50 million in cash on hand and $10 million in adjustments.

“Disney was extremely cooperative,” Tutor told Daily Variety. “Everybody’s enjoying the moment before we sit down and figure out where to go from here.”

Sale includes the rights to about 700 films and the Miramax moniker.

In October, Disney announced it would not release as planned a pair of Miramax titles — the Guillermo del Toro-produced thriller “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and John Madden’s “The Debt.” Filmyard could still release those pics through another distrib.

Disney purchased Miramax, created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, in 1993 for $80 million. The Weinstein brothers, along with Ron Burkle, were early contenders to reacquire the company but could not come to terms with Disney.

Josh Grode of law firm Liner Grode was among those who negotiated on behalf of Ron Tutor and Colony Capital.

(Marc Graser contributed to this report.)

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