ViacomCBS and Paramount Pictures have resumed talks to acquire a stake in Miramax, two insiders familiar with the talks told Variety. There is no deal in place.
In November, negotiations were called off abruptly over frustrations with the deal terms. At the time, Viacom and Paramount sent a letter to Miramax owners beIN Media Group, which acquired the indie company in 2016, retracting their interest in further pursuing a deal. Discussions are still taking place, but as it currently stands ViacomCBS would become an equity investor in the indie studio behind such Oscar-winning titles as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.” It would then enter into some kind of commercial relationship in which it would make movies and shows based on Miramax intellectual property. The potential deal is in the low nine figures.
Miramax boasts one of the largest collections of film titles available, which partly explains the interest among several media players. Viacom and 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 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 recently merged in order to compete effectively in the fast-changing media environment.
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At the UBS conference this week, ViacomCBS chief Bob Bakish discussed the company’s acquisitions strategy.
“We’ve just done our transformational deal… We don’t see any asset on the market or coming to market in the near term that we have to own,” he said. “That said, will we look of course we’ll look. However, we will approach it in the way we have traditionally approached Viacom, which is very specific opportunities tightly linked to strategy that will only pursue if they’re value creative to our shareholders.”
Other films in the Miramax library include “Scream,” “Good Will Hunting” and “The Crying Game.”
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.
A spokesperson for Miramax did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for ViacomCBS declined to comment.