Ron Tutor closes Miramax deal

Billionaire, investors officially own studio in $663 million acquisition

After months of negotiations and financial wrangling, Ron Tutor and Filmyard Holdings’ consortium of investors are now the official owners of Miramax.

Tutor closed the $663 million deal Friday. Pact encompasses Miramax’s library of nearly 700 movies, including such titles as “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient” and “Pulp Fiction.”

The big question now is how Filmyard will monetize the Miramax library. There’s been speculation that Filmyard will put a hold on production and acquisition for the next year or so and instead focusing exploiting the library, particularly digital rights for the pics. Filmyard has also reportedly been in talks with Netflix and Google, both of which have been building up their bank of movie rights for digital streaming in recent months.

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

Filmyard partners include Tom Barrack, Colony Capital LLC, Tutor, and Qatar Holding LLC.

“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.”

In July, the Mouse House said it would sell Miramax to Filmyard for $660 million, subject to certain adjustments.

The sale includes the rights to around 700 films and the Miramax moniker, created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979. Disney purchased the company for $80 million in 1993. The Weinstein brothers were early contenders to reacquire the company, but could not come to terms with Disney.

Closing the deal between Filmyard and Disney has been “complicated,” according to Tutor and other sources. 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 PLC had taken over as lead bank in the financing.

While Tutor, Colony and Qatar are expected to pony up the largest share of the $663 million, another $100 million will come from other investors. Miramax already had $50 million in cash on hand and $10 million in adjustments.

In October, Disney announced it would no longer release the Guillermo del Toro-produced thriller “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” and John Madden’s “The Debt” through Miramax. Filmyard could still release pics through another distrib.

Miramax pics include “Shakespeare in Love,” “Chicago,” “No Country for Old Men” and “Scary Movie.”

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