EXCLUSIVE: Miramax CEO Bill Block this afternoon has engaged in a substantial housecleaning that sources said will result in the layoffs of almost the entire television and film staffs at Miramax. That means 25 or possibly more of the company’s roster of 100+ staffers are losing their jobs today, a number that I’ve heard includes Zanne Devine, who heads its film production division. This is happening in real time. The bulk of staff untouched is the global sales force of the company. I have been able to confirm that Block is making these moves as his regime’s first step to turn the company into a generator of film and TV properties to bolster the company’s film library. In a statement, Block confirmed the layoff process, but he would not elaborate on specifics: “After careful consideration and consultation with the board, I have decided to reorganize the team at Miramax. This reorganization will allow me to lead a streamlined Miramax to grow in film, television and the licensing of our impressive library.”
Block was named CEO on April 26 and said then that he had the financial resources to revive Miramax, which presumably means he will be restaffing in film and TV production. Today’s moves might not come as a total shock internally; word in the film community is that Devine and chief acquisitions exec Rosanne Korenberg had their Cannes trips canceled at the last minute. A savvy watcher of the company lamented the development, saying there are good people at Miramax — including those execs in particular — but it came down to past company heads talking a good game but never making meaningful strides to turn the company into much more than a library curator, without adding significant value with new product to bolster its 700 titles. It is always the staff below those leaders who are vulnerable when leadership changes. The most valuable titles in the library were the ones built years ago by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who left the name and library behind in the divorce with Disney. That studio sold it to a consortium lead by Colony Capital for what turned out to be a bargain price around $660 million.
Miramax has showed some activity recently — it acquired U.S. distribution rights to a biopic of disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding with Margot Robbie starring in I, Tonya — and the label is currently in production on the Johnny Depp-Forest Whitaker police drama Labyrinth, a mystery about the murders of hip hop icons Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.