EXCLUSIVE: Since news dropped last week about Qatar’s beIN Media Group’s interest to unload a portion of the Miramax library, Deadline has come to learn that there’s certain interest chiefly by Viacom and Lionsgate.
Meanwhile, Sony we understand is not considering any purchase of the 700-title library which boasts a multitude of award winning titles. MGM is less likely interested in the company once built by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Gary Barber’s Spyglass we hear is kicking the tires.
Those who want the library want it in full, though beIN reportedly wants to still have some control in Miramax in its next evolution.
Nine years after Disney sold Miramax, what does the library mean to today’s suitors?
We hear from non-Miramax sources, it’s still a perennial piece of real estate for anyone who wants to grow an ancillary film library. They’re hard to come by and bundling Miramax in any pay-TV or free-TV deal, etc. is dependable cash.
Some question whether the $650M asking price for Miramax is too much since the library consists of older award winning and arthouse titles that has churned out few new theatrical releases. The most notable, of course, was last October’s Miramax/Blumhouse/Universal co-production of Halloween ($129M profit off a $15M production cost and $255.4M WW box office–a record for the franchise which Miramax licensed to Blumhouse. Sequels aren’t out of the question). Previous post Disney owners of Miramax have been conservative about exploiting the catalog and have largely relied on its instant library revenue streams.
However, other sources tell us that the asking price while high, could be justified should beIN Media provide ample proof of the catalog’s contracted sales and projected future streams. For certain, the library is worth well in excess of $325M we understand. Filmyard paid Disney $663M back in 2010, but that consisted of close to $300M in cash receivables. Carlos Jimenez at investment bank Moelis is overseeing the Miramax sale.
While it would be a challenge to pull off feature remakes or sequels to such Oscar winners as Chicago, The English Patient or Shakespeare in Love, the ideal exploitation of Miramax lies in adapting its IP into potential TV or streaming series (read, what FX and Noah Hawley did with MGM’s Fargo which minted multiple Emmy noms and wins is going into its fourth season with Chris Rock). Deadline has exclusively learned that Paramount TV Studios and Miramax are co-developing a TV series based on the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow fantasy drama Sliding Doors. The movie written and directed by Peter Howitt followed a London woman on two hypothetical paths, one where she gets home early and catches her boyfriend in bed with another woman, the other where she doesn’t. No writer has been attached yet.
Should Viacom nab the Miramax library, it could potentially add content to its free-ad-supported Pluto streaming service which they acquired last January for $340M. However, for the most part, the media conglom has no plans to launch a streaming service on par with that of Disney or Warner’s. Viacom’s next act is still in play as there’s impending talks between the media corp and CBS again. CBS has their own streaming services between Showtime and CBS All Access which are expected to count 25M subscribers by 2022.
Many tell us that Lionsgate would be an ideal partner for Miramax since they already have the worldwide home entertainment rights (packaged and digital) to the library for the last seven years. Lionsgate knows the properties, has the marketing materials, and can easily capitalize on the IP. Industry estimates value the original deal at $80M. The other asset that Lionsgate and Viacom both bring to Miramax is a much needed theatrical distribution arm for any productions in development. Currently STX, which is not circling the library, is handling U.S. on Miramax’s upcoming Guy Ritchie British action pic throwback The Gentleman set for 2020.
Netflix, despite striking a deal worth $220M-$240M back in 2011 for the Miramax catalog, is not kicking the tires on Miramax. Currently, they do not showcase the entire catalog but will stream a rotation of packaged titles.
Should Gary Barber’s Spyglass Media Group gain take Miramax, it will for the first time bring together the full cinematic assets of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, from both the original label named after their parents, and the Weinstein Co. After leaving Disney, the Weinstein’s took the Dimension banner and library with them.
A Byzantine headache for recent and previous owners of the Miramax library has been tracking down, sorting, and analyzing the myriad chain of titles on the catalog in an effort to monetize them. Some attribute such complex deals to the way that the original Miramax made deals out of film festivals. When the latest regimes of Miramax first wanted to revive the latest edition Halloween, it had to wait for a rolling option that the Weinstein Co. had on the franchise to expire. Then Miramax had to get permission from the IP’s owner, Malek Akkad, whose father Syrian filmmaker Moustapha Akkad produced the feature series.
Adam Fields was one of those hired by Colony Capital as a creative consultant and producer to plunge the depths of the catalog for properties to exploit. One of the scripts he unearthed in a New Jersey warehouse was Golden Tux which he sold to Screen Gems for roughly $1M. That became the 2015 Kevin Hart-Josh Gad movie The Wedding Ringer ($80M WW box office). Other titles that Fields licensed out of the Miramax library include Total Recall which was sold to Sony for an estimated $5M (the 2012 Colin Farrell remake grossed close to $200M at the WW B.O.) as well as the Bad Santa sequel to Broad Green (sold for under $1M, however, wasn’t the cult hit like the original, making a low $17.7M stateside). Other IP licensed by Fields included Sin City 2, the Gone Baby Gone TV pilot to Lionsgate, Dusk till Dawn TV series, and a Cop Land Starz TV pilot.
In regards to the Quentin Tarantino product in the library, i.e. Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vols. 1&2, Jackie Brown or his short in Four Rooms, such exploitation would require his approval we hear. He has long spoke about a full cut of Kill Bill with animated footage that was cut out of the original 2003-04 movies (called Kill Bill The Whole Bloody Affair). TBD on Kill Bill The Whole Bloody Affair. We understand there has always been a friendly dialogue between the Tarantino and post Disney Miramax camps.
Despite all the entangled rights and chain of title nightmares we’ve heard in the past about the Miramax library, we understand that the situation now is that most of that has been scrubbed between the Colony Capital and beIN Media regimes and remains in a turnkey position. Says one non-Miramax source about the potential of capitalizing on the catalog’s IP, “Nothing is impossible.”
Dade Hayes contributed to this article.