Viacom/Paramount Bail From Negotiations for Miramax Film Library (EXCLUSIVE)

Shakespeare in Love
Laurie Sparham/Miramax/Universal

Viacom and Paramount Pictures have called off negotiations to acquire the Miramax film library, multiple insiders familiar with the talks told Variety.

The media company and studio sent a letter today to Miramax owners beIN Media Group, which acquired the indie company in 2016, retracting their interest in further pursuing a deal. A spokesman for Viacom declined to comment as did a representative from Miramax. 

One individual close to the negotiations said there were issues that derailed the talks but cautioned that it remains possible that discussions could resume.

Another source said that Viacom/Paramount became frustrated over the deal terms and the fact that the talks had dragged on for months. Variety first reported on the negotiations in early September, when the library had an estimated value of at least $100 million.

The acquistion would have complimented Paramount’s storied library with over 800 titles, including such iconic films as “Pulp Fiction,” “Good Will Hunting,” “The Crying Game” and best picture Oscar winners “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love.” It’s one of the largest collections of film titles available for purchase, which partly explains the interest among several media players.

Viacom/Paramount had become the frontrunner for the Miramax asset, built over decades by now disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob, earlier this fall when fellow bidder Lionsgate dropped out of the race. Spyglass Media Group had also explored a bid earlier this year but also walked away.

The Miramax owners have offered the stake amid growing demand for film and TV assets, driven by new streaming services from companies like Disney, NBCUniversal, Apple and AT&T. Viacom and CBS are merging in order to compete effectively in the fast-changing media environment.

Miramax’s assets were acquired from the Walt Disney Company in 2010 by Filmyard Holdings, consisting of Colony Capital, Tutor-Saliba Corporation, and Qatar Investment Authority. Miramax was sold by its private equity owners in 2016 to beIN Media Group, which owns 100% of the company. It hired Bill Block, the founder of Artisan Entertainment and the producer of “District 9,” as CEO in 2017.