New Miramax takes shape with key hires

Studio appoints trio to its exec ranks

Miramax has appointed a trio of relative Hollywood outsiders to its exec ranks, including corporate finance vet Steve Schoch as exec VP and chief financial officer, emphasizing the rebooted studio’s focus on exploiting its vast library worldwide.

The other appointments are former Alliance VP Krista Wegener as VP of international distribution and Thomas Moreno as senior VP of operations. All three had done previous stints with Disney.

Studio also laid out plans for a comprehensive consumer website targeting indie film fans, and its execs said that while Miramax will have a presence at Sundance, it’s too early for the studio to aggressively acquire new material.

“I think part of the reason we’re going is just to reintroduce ourselves,” CEO Mike Lang told Variety. “Clearly, we plan to be active long term in the acquisition market.”

Schoch, who last served as a global finance VP at biotech giant Amgen, will oversee business development, finance, accounting and IT. Wegener was most recently a senior VP of finance and operations at Alliance in the U.K. and will oversee licensing of the Miramax library and new releases outside the U.S.

Moreno, who spent 13 years at Disney running strategy and development for the Mouse House’s theme parks and resorts, will run the Miramax website.

One of the next major steps for the library’s new leadership will be to choose partners for global theatrical distribution. Many of Miramax’s overseas theatrical distrib deals will expire in the near future, posing the question of whether Miramax will renew its agreements with overseas distributors.

Specialty label has also not yet decided on theatrical partners for new Miramax films, including acquisitions and the numerous development projects that came with its purchase from Disney.

Disney will continue to handle international television sales for Miramax until the new regime has its own international TV team in place, Lang said. He also explained that Miramax will seek a partner for its home entertainment biz, while film partners will be handled on a market-by-market basis.

Lang also laid out an ambitious blueprint for Miramax.com — one that includes a social networking feature, exclusive Web content, the possibility of viewing Miramax films via the website and other outlets and perhaps the creation of an online film festival. Lang added that the company wants its content available across an array of digital devices.

“I think our Miramax.com is something more niche and targeted for those people that are just solely interested in independent film,” Lang said. “My hope is that you’ll see a first version of what we’re trying to do within the next six months.”

Studio is also close to announcing theatrical distribution partners for a trio of unreleased Miramax pics, “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” “The Debt” and “Last Night.”

In late 2010, a group of investors led by construction magnate Ron Tutor bought the Miramax library from Disney for a reported $663 million, outbidding Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein. In December, the specialty label announced a pact with the Weinstein Co. for sequels to 10 pics, including “Shakespeare in Love,” “Rounders” and “Bad Santa.”

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