Exclusive– Get ready to meet the new Miramax.
Six months after a group of investors completed a $663 million buyout from Disney, the venerable indie’s reviving the Miramax brunch at Cannes.
For Monday, it’s invited 150 international distribution execs via a fleet of speedboats emblazoned with the Miramax logo to a private beach at the Cap d’Antibes, where they’ll schmooze with Miramax execs including Miramax chairman and Colony Capital principal Richard Nanula and strategic adviser-investor Rob Lowe.
“Rob’s incredibly well-connected and the best-looking investor we’ve got,” said CEO Mike Lang in an interview with Variety on Thursday. “What we’re trying to do is resurrect something that was fun and relaxing for the distributors. We’re still figuring out the strategy, but we want to get the word out that it’s going to be more than just exploiting the library.”
Lang’s also intent on maintaining the Miramax logo — though the word “Films” has been excised.
“I spent 10 years at Disney, so I’m a big believer in brands,” he added. “There aren’t many other brands in this business that have the kind of identification that Miramax has among consumers as being innovative and cutting edge.”
Lang said it was highly unlikely that Miramax will acquire films at Cannes as the company continues hammering out its longterm strategy. Toronto and Sundance are the more likely venues for the shingle to start buying again. He’s anticipating the company will release three to five titles in 2012 via a combination of acquisitions and internally developed projects.
In the past four months, Miramax execs have combed through hundreds of boxes in a warehouse in Los Angeles containing the details of about 650 projects developed under the previous regime.
“We probably have 50 to 75 real projects for film and TV that we’re trying to figure out,” Lang said. “We’ll probably start our own productions next year.”
The company is looking for risky and original TV programs, such as AMC’s “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” The first pilots will probably be announced within the next two months.
“What we’ve been asking executives when we meet them is to tell us exactly what other companies have said they’ll never do,” Lang added. “We need to zig when other people zag.”
During the past six months, Miramax has nailed down theatrical distribution partners for a trio of unreleased Miramax pics — “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which has gone to FilmDistrict; “The Debt,” to be handled by Focus; and “Last Night,” which is going through Tribeca Films.
It reached a deal in February with Lionsgate and StudioCanal on worldwide distribution rights to more than 550 library titles. About 50 of those titles will be out on Blu-ray later this year.
Lang, a former News Corp. and Fox exec, most recently was a consultant to Filmyard in its acquisition of Miramax. Before that, he played key roles in the formation of the MySpace Music joint venture and the launch of Hulu. He was also involved with Fox’s mobile, digital and videogame initiatives after joining the company in 2004.
He emphasized Thursday that he has an ambitious blueprint for all Miramax content to be available across an array of digital devices.
And he believes that the current financial structure — which contains $300 million in accounts receivable from TV deals — will provide enough flexibility for the new Miramax to control its own destiny.
“Consumer access to broadband is only three years away,” he added. “We’re in the very early days of that.”