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Miramax, LLC (also known as Miramax Films) is an American entertainment company known for producing and distributing films and television shows. It is currently headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Miramax was originally founded in 1979 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and was a leading independent film motion picture distribution and production company before it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in June 1993, which was the first acquisition done by the company. The Weinsteins operated Miramax with more creative and financial independence than any other division of Disney until 1996, when Disney reduced its stake in Miramax to avoid potential anti-trust issues after the buyouts of ABC, Pixar and Lucasfilm. In 1999 Miramax would end up firing Harvey Weinstein from the company after his history of sexual assault and rape came to light, his brother Bob Weinstein would also end up leaving shortly afterwards. Following the Weinstein scandal and a few smaller scandals, Miramax shut down all of its operations on March 3rd, 2001, with its library and name being reincorporated into The Walt Disney Company under the Touchstone Pictures umbrella. Eventually the Miramax name was spun-off by The Walt Disney Company to Filmyard Holdings, a joint venture of Springbok Productions, Colony NorthStar, Tutor-Saliba Corporation, and Qatar Investment Authority, in 2010, with Disney retaining Miramax's library. In 2016, the company was sold to the beIN Media Group. In 2019, beIN agreed to sell a 49% stake in the company to ViacomCBS. The sale was completed on April 3, 2020.
Independent era (1979–1993)
The company was founded by the brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein in Buffalo, New York, in 1979, and was named by combining the first names of their parents, Miriam and Max. It was created to distribute independent films deemed commercially unfeasible by the major studios.
The company's first major success came when the Weinsteins teamed up with British producer Martin Lewis and acquired the U.S. rights to two concert films Lewis had produced of benefit shows for human rights organization Amnesty International. The Weinsteins worked with Lewis to distill the two films into one film for the American marketplace. The resulting film, the American version of The Secret Policeman's Other Ball was a successful release for Miramax in the summer of 1982. This release presaged a modus operandi that the company would undertake later in the 1980s of acquiring films from international filmmakers and reworking them to suit American sensibilities and audiences.
Among the company's other breakthrough films as distributors in the late 1980s and early 1990s were Pulp Fiction; Scandal; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!; The Crying Game, and Clerks. The company also made films such as Flirting with Disaster, Heavenly Creatures and Shakespeare in Love.
Miramax acquired and/or produced many other films that did extraordinarily well financially. The company became one of the leaders of the independent film boom of the 1990s. Miramax produced or distributed seven films with box office grosses totaling more than $100 million; its most successful title, Chicago, earned more than $300 million worldwide.
The company was also exceptionally successful in securing Academy Award nominations for its releases, many of which resulted in Oscar wins.
In 1992, Miramax began a deal with Paramount Pictures for home video and television distribution of certain Miramax releases. Paramount would also distribute theatrically certain releases that might have commercial appeal (such as Bob Roberts, though video rights to that film were owned by LIVE Entertainment – which is now Lions Gate Entertainment). Paramount still owns home video rights to some of these films, and regained even more rights on April 3, 2020 when the studio bought a minority stake in Miramax. Television distribution is now with Trifecta Entertainment & Media.
Disney era (1993–1999)
On June 30, 1993, Miramax was purchased for $60 million by The Walt Disney Company, which paved a way for Disney to enter the independent film market. During their tenure, the Weinstein brothers ran Miramax independently of other Disney subsidiaries, and as a result had more autonomy than the other Disney-owned companies (for example, Miramax International, the international distribution arm of Miramax, distributed films both to cinemas and video through local independent affiliates and not also contracted with Disney or contracted with, but separately). Disney, however, had the final say on what Miramax could release (see Dogma as an example). Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment division released Miramax output on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray Disc in some countries, including the U.S.
In addition to owning Miramax, Disney also owns the rights to Miramax's pre-1993 library.
With a more stable budget, Miramax began moving beyond acquisitions and distribution and into film productions. Miramax also operated a sub-label Dimension Films, which was solely founded by Bob to specialize in teen, horror, and other genre films, and created the Scream and Scary Movie film franchises. Harvey funded larger projects and from up and coming directors including Robert Rodriguez, Gus Van Sant and Quentin Tarantino. Some of the films earned Oscars.
In 1997, Miramax joined Peter Jackson as a primary financial backer in attempting to get the Lord of the Rings films produced. Disney disliked the cost of a two-parter, requesting that it be produced as a single film. Jackson and Saul Zaentz rejected Disney's request and looked for another studio or financier. Thus, Miramax sold the rights for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to New Line Cinema in August 1998 for about $12 million, which led The Lord of the Rings to be produced as a trilogy. The Walt Disney Company would end up retaining a 5% stake in the films' gross, though Bob and Harvey Weinstein's executive producers' credit would be stricken from the finished product.
In 1996, when Disney acquired Capital Cities/ABC, Pixar Animation Studios and Lucasfilm, to avoid the appearance of being monopolistic, they began the process of divesting most of their stake in Miramax, with the exception of the 20 percent and the home video rights. This process was completed by 1998, with 80 percent now back into the hands of Miramax itself.
Through Miramax, Harvey founded Talk magazine with Tina Brown in 1998 (it would shut down in 2001), The same year, 30 former employees would file suit over unpaid overtime wages.
On November 22, 1998, a report about Harvey Weinstein's management of Miramax appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, in which an executive of Miramax's Italian division alluded to his propensity for having numerous sexual affairs, and liberal usage of non-disclosure agreements and threatening to blackball his sexual partners in order to ensure their silence.
In January 1999, right after the release of Shakespeare in Love, several notable actresses, including Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, accused Weinstein of sexual assault, and of using his massive industry influence to silence them. As a result of the actresses' comments, dozens of other women in various positions in the industry, including assistants to Weinstein and low-level employees of Miramax, came out with their own allegations. Weinstein angrily denied all the charges against him, claiming that Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Pictures were orchestrating a smear campaign in order to torpedo the Oscar campaign of Shakespeare in Love in order to boost chances of victory for Saving Private Ryan. When the cast and crew of Shakespeare immediately distanced themselves from him and stopped promoting the film, things spiraled out. On January 25, the board of directors officially terminated Weinstein's employment from Miramax at the request of his brother Bob. British film executive Daniel Battsek took the reins of the company, while Bob Weinstein would end up leaving shortly after due to unconfirmed tabloid reports of misconduct on his part, but mostly due to failure to exercise his supervisory role to protect Miramax employees and talent.
During the next two years, Miramax would still have notable successes, including Dogma, Bridget Jones' Diary, She's All That, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Cider House Rules, East Is East and Chocolat. However, most of its projects during that period would suffer the stigma of being associated with Harvey Weinstein's crimes, and suffered at the box office. Furthermore, when actress Charlize Theron ended up booted from the John Frankenheimer directed Reindeer Games because of being dubbed too heavy to play her intended role after giving birth to her twins, Edward and Olivia, and replaced by Shannen Doherty, it caused another round of unpleasant publicity, because many people felt she looked perfectly fine. In addition, the news that she and husband Kurt Cobain were forming Springbok Productions and essentially creating a potential competitor for Miramax's turf certainly did not help.
Buttressed by a sudden refusal of the public to let the company move on and their financial straits, Miramax announced on March 3, 2001, that it would be shutting down. Disney repurchased the company at a rock-bottom claiming price of $6 million, a tenth of what it cost to buy them back in 1993. It announced that it would move the Miramax library under the Touchstone Pictures label for home video purposes (though the Miramax name and credits would still appear in the films themselves), and that all subsequently planned Miramax projects would be split between Touchstone or Hollywood Pictures, or use an option to sell off certain projects to other studios. The Dimension Films name would be fully retired. Meanwhile, Daniel Battsek ended up the head of Springbok Productions' UK division. Harvey Weinstein would be fully convicted of all charges in 2005, then end up a lead witness in the trial of David Geffen.
On December 3, 2010, Disney closed the spinoff and sale of the Miramax name for US$357 million to Filmyard Holdings, an investment group and joint venture of Colony NorthStar, Tutor-Saliba Corporation, Qatar Investment Authority, and Springbok Productions. The sale only included the "Miramax" name, as the library would remain under ownership of The Walt Disney Company under the Touchstone Pictures label, though Disney did part with 300 different projects in development to be given to the new Miramax. Mike Lang, the former News Corporation business development executive who was selected as the CEO of Miramax, indicated that the company would focus on making original content. Though the newly formed company wouldn't release an original film until 4 years later with the release of Sin City: A Dame to Die For. They also announced that any and all new titles would have home video rights handled by Lionsgate.
During 2011, Miramax raised funds via a film-backed securitization that valued the company at over $800 million. Disney allowed the securitization to go forward regarding TV broadcast and digital distribution fees, and also allowed Miramax the option to develop and distribute select derivative works of films from the original company, in sequels, TV shows and stage productions. They even extended this offer to "spiritually Miramax" titles released by the Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures imprints, giving Miramax nearly 800 titles to work with.
On March 16, 2012, Mike Lang stepped down from as Miramax CEO. Miramax CFO Steve Schoch would officially run the company until 2016. On January 22, 2013, Ron Tutor sold his stake in Miramax to co-owner Qatar Investment Authority.
On December 16, 2013, Disney and Miramax made an agreement in which Disney allowed Miramax to create and release derivative works of films from the original Miramax library as well as the "spirtually Miramax" titles released by Touchstone. Sequels, television series, or stage productions of titles such as Rounders and Shakespeare in Love were among the projects said to be part of this agreement.
In October 2014, Miramax announced that it will license the television and digital distribution rights to the Revolution Studios library from current IP owners Springbok (who'd purchased the company and the library in 2010), which also includes the catalog of Morgan Creek International. Springbok allowed the licensing deal to go forward by keeping a 25 percent stake in these distribution rights for themselves, and Miramax keeping the other 75 percent.
On July 17, 2015, Qatar and Colony NorthStar put Miramax up for sale for an offer of $1 billion. On March 2, 2016, Miramax was sold to beIN Media Group, a spinoff of Al Jazeera Media Network (which formerly owned its namesake beIN Sports).
On June 7, 2019, beIN began the process of selling approximately 50% of Miramax in an effort to offer it for growth. Lionsgate (which is currently distributing Miramax's current titles on home video) and Viacom (Paramount's parent company who re-merged with CBS Corporation on December 4, 2019 to form ViacomCBS) are seen as the leading contenders to acquire a stake in the company. However, on August 19, 2019, Lionsgate and Viacom were the only contenders, as Spyglass Media Group dropped out of contention. On September 11, 2019, it was announced Lionsgate had dropped their bid, making Viacom the only bidder for the stake in Miramax. On November 8, 2019, Viacom exited the negotiations to acquire them. After merging with CBS Corporation to become ViacomCBS, the combined firm then resumed talks with Miramax.
ViacomCBS venture era (2019–present)
On December 20, 2019, ViacomCBS announced it would acquire a 49% stake in Miramax for at least $375 million, with Paramount Pictures gaining exclusive worldwide distribution rights to its current library. Paramount and Miramax will also co-produce new content based on titles from the library, including the titles still owned by Disney and the "spiritually Miramax" titles released by Touchstone. The deal officially closed on April 3, 2020.
In June 2020, Miramax and ViacomCBS announced their first co-production, The Turkish Detective, a television series based on the Cetin Ikmen novels by Barbara Nadel.
The company originally had been criticized for delaying or withholding release of Asian films to which it acquires the U.S. distribution rights while trying to bar retailers from legally exporting authentic DVDs of the films.
In the same Hollywood Reporter article that arguably lead to Harvey's downfall, it was revealed that Harvey Weinstein aggressively sought a large number of edits to the Hayao Miyazaki anime film Princess Mononoke for the film's U.S. release. But that Miyazaki would send Weinstein a samurai sword with the message "No cuts" attached to the blade, the film was released without the edits Weinstein wanted.
Main article: List of Miramax films
Miramax Family (also known as Miramax Family Films) was the family division of Miramax Films; it was created in 1991 and shut down at the same time as Miramax originally was. On March 18, 2019, Miramax revived its family and animation division. Michael Lachance, who had previously developed projects at DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures Animation, was named the division's executive vice president.
Films and TV shows distributed by Miramax Family are listed here.
- Freddie as F.R.O.7 (1992)
- Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) (theatrical distribution only)
- Into the West (1993)
- Little Buddha (1994)
- The Thief and the Cobbler (1995) (originally released in cinemas as Arabian Knight)
- Gordy (1995)
- The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia (1996) (USA release only; distributed internationally by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)
- Hugo The Movie Star (1996)
- Microcosmos (1996)
- How the Toys Saved Christmas (1997)
- The Phoenix and the Carpet (1997)
- The Animal Train (1998)
- Hugo The Movie Star 2 (1998)
- Wide Awake (1998)
- The Mighty (1998)
- The Bear (1998)
- Children of Heaven (1999)
- Flipper and Lopaka (1999-2005)
- Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar (2000)
Miramax Television is the television production division tasked with producing TV shows based on the existing Miramax film library and original concepts. Its projects include the following:
|The World of David the Gnome||1987||Nickelodeon||English dub only; co-production with CINAR for BRB Internacional|
|Wasteland||1999–2000||ABC||co-production with Outerbanks Entertainment|
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|Categories: Miramax | American companies established in 1979 | BeIN Media Group | Paramount Pictures | Joint ventures | Film distributors of the United States | Film production companies of the United States | Entertainment companies based in California | Companies based in Los Angeles | Mass media companies established in 1979 | 1979 establishments in New York (state) | Former subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company | 1993 mergers and acquisitions | 2010 mergers and acquisitions | 2016 mergers and acquisitions | 2020 mergers and acquisitions|
This page was last edited on 25 September 2020, at 19:40 (UTC).