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Weinstein brothers may buy back Miramax

by Danielle Berrin

February 2, 2010 | 9:33 pm

Harvey and Bob Weinstein may reunite with their long lost Miramax in a happy Hollywood ending sullied by a great deal of debt.

The Wrap is reporting that two hedge funds are interested in helping the brothers reclaim the independent film studio they created and named for their parents. During its heyday, Miramax became synonymous with Oscar hits and brought films like “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love” to the culture.

The Weinsteins sold their baby to Disney in 1993 and continued to run the company until a nasty breakup in 2005. (Harvey and then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner famously feuded.) But it looks like things are coming full circle for the Weinsteins, whose current film outfit, The Weinstein Company is experiencing financial woes. Until now, TWC has not been able to replicate the megasuccess of Miramax but today’s 13 Oscar nominations for “Inglourious Basterds” and “Nine” certainly helped.

What the Weinsteins plan to do with two film companies in an erratic economic climate is of legitimate concern, but the Miramax library of 700 films could certainly help with their cash flow problems.

From The Wrap:

WaxWord reported this week that Summit Entertainment, Relativity Media, Studio Canal and billionaire Nelson Peltz were all among those showing interest in the studio with a library of 700 fims, but found the $700 million asking price too high.

“Here’s the issue everyone’s having: What do you do with the rights?” said one person interested in the deal. “Other than Harvey Weinstein, who knows how to do ‘Inglourious Basterds’?”

Under the expected terms of the deal, Disney would continue to run the library for a year after any purchase, but would then turn it over to the new owner for monetization. The new owner would have to strike a new set of output deals.

A Disney executive said they had no knowledge of the Weinstein brothers’ interest, but that in principle, despite the brutal divorce, saw no obstacle to them buying the studio.

One insider close to the deal said that the library produces about $300 million in annual revenue. But others who have looked at Disney’s financial information insisted that it was closer to $100 million.

One former Miramax executive said that a $300 million annual revenue figure seemed impossible.

“In the old days it was doing $85 million in a good year,” said the former executive.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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