BREAKING NEWS! EXCLUSIVE — 6:05 PM UPDATE: Summit Entertainment just now told me it has pulled out of the bidding. Wow, that’s a surprise because the mini-major had been really interested in the Miramax name and library right from the start of the Disney sale. Meanwhile, I’ve learned that sitting on the sidelines waiting to see who’ll be in the final 6 and what partnerships may form are a bunch of hedge funds and about 8 to 10 “high net worth” billionaires able and eager to get into this auction on the side of the bidders. I can confirm that The Weinstein Co has at least two big hedge funds who would take 50% of the final pie. Summit at one point in the process had 4 partners. Many are still uncommitted. “A lot of these hedge fund shops don’t want to do it on their own. They’re sitting back playing Switzerland waiting to see what happens. Then they’ll pick the people to partner with.”

5:45 PM: First there were 17, then 13, and now there will be 6. That’s because I’ve just learned that Disney is ending the bidding for Miramax tonight at 8 PM. The field of 6 will then have 4 weeks of due diligence to “really kick the tires and go to the next step” in the auction for the Miramax name and library. *The final 6 will include Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate, The Weinstein Co, and probably 3 others. But the Lionsgate bid for Miramax (and also for MGM) has been thrown into turmoil now that corporate raider/shareholder activist Carl Icahn has a tender offer out to shareholders for 29.9% of Lionsgate that would prevent Lionsgate management from going after any $100+ million acquisition. And I’m told that the bidding prices to make it into the final 6 were supposed to be in excess of $600 million. (Though my sources say a few of the 6 are just below, and some above.)