×

Miramax, Weinstein Co. Talk Potential Merger (Exclusive)

Other partnership possibilities in discussion to revive Miramax library

Settling in for lunch about two weeks ago in Saint-Tropez, Harvey Weinstein sat across from the former rival who took away his prized Miramax just three years before.

Weinstein and Tom Barrack, the head of Colony Capital who outbid Weinstein to buy Miramax in 2010, have discussed merging the two companies  — an idea that execs from both shingles have been discussing for several weeks – or forming another strong partnership that gives Weinstein more control over the library he helped build from the ground up.

A partnership would also give Miramax a way to produce something it may need: new content.

Miramax and the Weinstein Co. declined to comment.

Since coming under new ownership in 2010, Miramax hasn’t been quite as productive as many observers expected it to be. Barrack’s group of investors purchased the library for $663 million, but have spent the past three years milking the company’s some 700 titles through various licensing deals.

Observers called the original pricetag crazy, foolish, or both, and the jury’s still out on whether Barrack’s gamble has paid off. If it hasn’t, Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s familiarity with Miramax’s 700-some titles mean that the brothers may know the best way to create new content out of the existing IP.

For the past three years, Miramax’s owners have licensed the library through deals with Netflix, Hulu, Lionsgate, Facebook and others. While the company has flirted with the idea of delving into production – and announced at least three new projects – the company hasn’t actually added any new content thus far. And without that, many observers and insiders say that Miramax’s value is something of a melting iceberg.

In 2011, Miramax raised $500 million through a film-backed securitization that valued the company at more than $800 million. That figure was based largely on revenue the company anticipated from future television and digital licensing agreements. While Miramax has paid off roughly 40% of that debt, according to two insiders, some observers still question whether Miramax’s licensing deals have over-exploited a library that has added no new content.

But Miramax has no strong creative leadership and lost two of its top executives in unexpected shakeups. Former CEO and News Corp. vet Mike Lang abruptly ankled the company in March of 2012, only to be briefly replaced by former Colony Capital principal Richard Nanula. Nanula left his post in June in the wake of a sex tape scandal and sexual harassment lawsuit.

Barrack immediately took up the chairman role at Miramax and has maintained that the Santa Monica-based company is doing just fine.

“All is great at Miramax and it has been extremely profitable!” Barrack said via email in June. “It was, is and continues to be a fabulous investment!! Lots of good news to come including production!!”

But some insiders close to Miramax have suggested otherwise amidst persistent rumblings that some of Miramax’s investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority, have been dissatisfied with the company’s performance.

A TWC-Miramax pairing would be the second time that Weinstein has made peace with a former enemy in recent weeks. On Tuesday, news broke that TWC would produce eight-book series “Artemis Fowl” for Disney. Weinstein parted ways with the Mouse House on poor terms in 2005, leaving Miramax behind.

More Biz

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content