Disney Agrees to Sell Miramax to Tutor, Colony & Co. for $660M
After a six-month bidding process, Disney has agreed to sell Miramax to a group that includes Ronald Tutor and Colony Capital for $660 million.
The transaction is subject to certain regulatory approvals and is expected to close sometime before the end of the year. In a statement, Disney chief Robert Iger said, “Although we are very proud of Miramax’s many accomplishments, our current strategy for Walt Disney Studios is to focus on the development of great motion pictures under the Disney, Pixar and Marvel brands.”
Tutor, the chief executive of the Tutor Perini Corporation, and Tom Barrack, the chief executive of Colony Capital, and other individuals bought Miramax through Filmyard Holdings. The press release did not mention any other minority investors, such as James Robinson of Morgan Creek, Gulf Capital of Dubai and actor Rob Lowe, who said last week that he was part of the group, notes The Hollywood Reporter. Nor was there any mention of Pangea Media Group CEO David Bergstein, who first brought the deal to Tutor and has been acting as a consultant on the sale.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Jerome Swartz, who co-founded mobile technology company Symbol Technologies, was expected to invest between $25 million and $50 million in the new venture.
The purchase includes the rights to 700 library titles, plus the Miramax name, books, development projects and other assets.
Disney will handle distribution of a handful of completed Miramax films that have yet to be released, an arrangement that may be in place for up to a year after the transaction is completed, Variety notes.
The ultimate price for the indie label was higher than what others, including Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein backed by Ron Burkle, were prepared to offer.
As much as $150 million of the Miramax unit’s value remains tied to film franchises like the Spy Kids and Scary Movie series in which the Weinsteins have rights, a source told The New York Times.
Unclear is how Tutor’s group will deal with the Weinstein presence, given the brothers’ chagrin in recent weeks at not having prevailed in the bidding, says the NYT.
Deadline notes that Colony Capital's Richard Nanula will be the key person picking a CEO and CFO from the usual roster of experienced movie executives. An insider told Deadline, "He'll make sure Miramax doesn't end up hiring someone who'll use distribution as an excuse to go into production. Because that would be disastrous."
A “bedtime story” is a fairly succinct way to describe Lady. Of course a bedtime story being told by M. Night Shyamalan can go into any number of weird and wild directions. The writer/director says the idea for Lady was based on a story he’d told his kids which began with “Did you know that someone lives under our pool?” and revolves around Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) a lowly superintendent for an apartment building who inadvertently finds Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) a mysterious nymph-like “narf ” living in the pool. She’s there to complete a task and now that it’s done she needs to go home back to the Blue World. But that’s easier said than done. She only has a small window of opportunity and apparently there’s a ferocious beast called a “scrunt” lurking in the grass around the pool waiting to kill her if she tries to leave. Now Cleveland and a few of the other tenants—who find themselves intricately tied to Story’s plight—must help her escape to freedom. Thank god for Sideways. Without it Giamatti would have gone on playing under the radar without the recognition—and juicier parts—he deserves. He is truly a wonder as Cleveland a sad little man with a stutter who is quietly trying to hide from a tragic past. It’s only when Story comes into his life does he face his personal tragedy and learn to live again. Howard on the other hand who wowed most of us with her stunning performance in The Village doesn’t have nearly as much to work with as the pale water nymph. The mystical character is fairly one note—befuddled and cheerless. But the rest of the apartment tenants shine: Jeffrey Wright (Syriana) as a single dad who has a penchant for crossword puzzles; Freddy Rodriguez (HBO’s Six Feet Under) as a weight builder who only lifts weights on one side of his body; Bob Balaban (A Mighty Wind) as a pompous film critic (and as a critic I’m not at all offended when he gets his comeuppances); Cindy Cheung as a Korean college student who is key in telling the epic bedtime story; Sarita Choudhury (She Hate Me) as a quippy young woman looking for her mission in life and Shyamalan himself as her brother the person Story is meant to inspire to write something extraordinary. There’s never a dull moment with this crew around. In a way M. Night Shyamalan has become his own worst enemy having to live up to this reputation as a master of suspense and surprise twists. His last effort The Village left many of his fans feeling unsatisfied—and unfortunately he may alienate more with Lady in the Water. But the fact of the matter is he is still one of Hollywood's more brilliant minds on par with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for originality who has an innate talent for crafting ingenious stories filled with genuine human emotions. So maybe this time around he’s made a movie more for those most ardent of his fans who simply revel in the way his mind works no matter how incomprehensible and frivolous it may seem. So what? The diehards might feel compelled to defend Shyamalan’s choices with Lady—how he has come up with an entire universe where things like “scrunts” and the “Tartutic” (simian-like creatures who form an invincible force that maintains law and order in the Blue World) and “Madam Narfs” interact with humans in the real world. If the story actually took place in the Blue World then maybe it’d be easier to swallow. But that’s sort of the genius of Shyamalan. It’s as if with Lady in the Water he’s crafted a child-like movie for those adults who remember being told wildly creative bedtime stories who then in turn tell the stories to their kids.