Disney May Have Finally Found Someone to Pick Up Miramax
by Ethan Anderton
July 9, 2010
Back towards the beginning of the year, we got the sad news that Miramax, the indie distributor based out of Disney, was officially closing its doors after 31 years of working in the motion picture business. Since then there's been failed talks about the company's founding members, Bob & Harvey Weinstein, buying back the company, and most recently heavily disliked executive David Bergstein was said to be teaming with construction magnate Ron Tutor to purchase the studio. Well, word on the street is Tutor is still involved, but apparently the team he's bringing into the deal has changed a bit, and the deal is "95% just about done."
Tutor has been leading the pack on the deal, but Bergstein seems to be out as Colony Capitol, a private international investment firm, has been brought in to provide $300 million in equity (towards what will be around a $700 million purchase). Also joining the deal to provide more financing is James Robinson, a chairman of Morgan Creek Productions, and Gulf Capital, an investment firm based out of Abu Dhabi (you know, that place Garfield always tried to send Nermal). Richard Nanula, a former CFO at Disney, is acting as Colony's principal to oversee the deal, but there's a chance that it could still fall through because around $200 million still needs to be raised in the form of debt, and some banks have resisted participating because of questions about the valuation, especially without the cooperation of Bob and Harvey Weinstein any more.
The buyers have entered a period of due diligence, in which they'll get a more detailed look at the Miramax books, and the deal could close as early as July 28th. However, there may be some troubles on the horizon because the buyers not only don't believe they need the Weinsteins to sign off on the deal, but they don't need permission from them for remakes of the franchise films in their library of 611 titles. But a source close to the Weinstein camp says that their 2005 exit agreement with Disney gave them consultation and remake rights to more than two dozen of those franchises like Halloween, Children of the Corn, etc. Obviously, the Weinsteins aren't happy about this and are still prepared to bid again for Miramax if this deal falls apart.
There's a lot of business mumbo jumbo to sort through and a lot of it isn't for typical movie fans to absorb. What's important though is that Miramax has the right guidance and team to bring Miramax back from the dead so that certain properties don't fall to the wayside. We've already seen what can happen to some of our beloved franchises with MGM's financial woes delaying production on The Hobbit, James Bond and who knows what else. It's bad news when a company goes under, but it would be even worse if that company was brought back with the wrong people. As for Miramax's future, I'm not sure if it's better to have a new team in Tutor's assembly of financiers and execs, or if it's better with the Weinsteins again. Only time will tell.