Miramax Films

Miramax Films
Miramax Film Corp.
Type Subsidiary of Filmyard Holdings
Industry Film
Founded 1979
Founder(s) Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein
Headquarters New York City, NY (1979–2010); Burbank (2010) ; Santa Monica (2010–present)
Key people Richard Nanula, Chairman; Michael Lang, CEO
Owner(s) Independent (1979–1993)
The Walt Disney Company (1993–2010)
Filmyard Holdings, LLC (2010–present)
Website miramax.com

Miramax Films is an American entertainment company known for distributing independent and foreign films. For its first 14 years the company was privately owned by its founders, Bob and Harvey Weinstein. In 1993, the company was acquired by The Walt Disney Company.

Founded in 1979 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein and headquartered in New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Miramax was a leading independent film motion picture distribution and production company before it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 1993. The Weinsteins operated Miramax with more creative and financial independence than any other division of Disney, until 2005 when they decided to leave the company and founded The Weinstein Company. Miramax was sold by Disney to Filmyard Holdings in 2010, ending Disney's involvement with the studio for the first time in 17 years.



Founded by the brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein in Buffalo, New York in 1979, the company was named by combining the first names of their parents Max and Miriam,[1][dead link] and was originally created to distribute independent films deemed commercially unfeasible by the major studios.

The company's first major success came when the Weinsteins teamed up with British producer Martin Lewis and acquired the U.S. rights to two concert films Lewis had produced of benefit shows for human rights organization Amnesty International. The Weinsteins worked with Lewis to distill the two films into one film for the US marketplace. The resulting film The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (US Version) was a successful release for Miramax in the summer of 1982. This release presaged a modus operandi that the company would undertake later in the 1980s of acquiring films from international filmmakers and reworking them to suit US sensibilities.

Among the company's other breakthrough films as distributors in the late 1980s and early 1990s were Scandal; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!; The Crying Game and Clerks. The company also made films such as Pulp Fiction, Flirting with Disaster, Heavenly Creatures and Shakespeare in Love.

In addition to those successes, Miramax acquired and/or produced many films that did extraordinarily well financially. The company became one of the leaders of the independent film boom of the 1990s. Miramax produced or distributed seven films with box office grosses totalling more than $100 million; its most successful title, Chicago, earned more than $300 million worldwide.[2]

The company was also exceptionally successful in securing Academy Award nominations for its releases, many of which resulted in Oscar wins.

In 1992, Miramax began a deal with Paramount Pictures for VHS and TV distribution of certain Miramax releases. Paramount would also distribute theatrically certain releases that might have commercial appeal (such as Bob Roberts, though video rights to that film were owned by Live Entertainment – which is now Lions Gate Entertainment). Paramount still owns video rights to some of these films today, while TV distribution is now with Trifecta Entertainment & Media.[3]

Disney era

In 1993 Miramax was purchased for $60 million by The Walt Disney Company.[4] Harvey and Bob Weinstein continued to operate Miramax until they left the company on September 30, 2005. During their tenure, the Weinstein brothers ran Miramax independently of other Disney companies. Disney, however, had the final say on what Miramax could release (see Fahrenheit 9/11, Kids and Dogma, for examples). Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment division releases Miramax output.

Miramax operated, until 2005, the label Dimension Films, specializing in genre films and created the Spy Kids, Scream and Scary Movie film franchises.

After the acquisition by Disney, the Weinsteins started to have problems with Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, on creative and financial matters. Eisner was reluctant to give as much creative freedom and financial support for the Weinsteins, who over the years increased the budget for their productions. Disagreements between the two sides came to the point that negotiations to extend the contract with the Weinsteins in Miramax ended in failure.

After extensive negotiations and much media and industry speculation, on March 30, 2005, Disney and the Weinsteins announced that they would not renew their contractual relationship when their existing agreements expired at the end of September 2005. The primary source of dispute was over distribution of Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore.[1] Disney's film studio consortium, Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group assumed control of Miramax, which was projected to have a smaller annual production budget. The Weinsteins started a new film production company called simply The Weinstein Company, and took the Dimension Films label with them. The Miramax name remained with the film studio owned by Disney. Production at Miramax was taken over by Daniel Battsek,[1] who formerly was head of Buena Vista International in the UK. Battsek refocused Miramax to produce films of high quality but low budget. Maple Pictures held the rights to distribute Miramax films in Canada from 2008 up until August 10, 2011 when Maple Pictures was acquired by Alliance Films.[5]

On October 3, 2009, Disney announced that the staff of Miramax was to be reduced by 70%, and the number of releases would be reduced by half to just three films per year. The label's marketing, distribution and administrative functions, which had operated independently, would be folded into the parent studio in Burbank. The move became effective in January 2010.[6][7] On October 30, 2009, Disney announced the resignation of Daniel Battsek as President of Miramax Films, effective when the transition from the studio in New York to Burbank was completed.[8] The company merged its operations with Walt Disney Studios on January 28, 2010, shutting down Miramax's separate New York and Los Angeles offices.[1][9]

Dick Cook, former Disney Studio Chairman wanted to keep Miramax[10] but resigned, with most likely new Disney Studio Chairman (Rich Ross) deciding on selling Miramax. Bob Iger said in a conference call that when questioned about possible Miramax sale, "We determined that continuing to invest in new Miramax movies wasn't necessarily a core strategy of ours".[11]

On November 23, 2010, it was reported that Google was interested in purchasing the digital rights to the Miramax library to improve the premium content offerings on YouTube, and compete with similar services such as Hulu and Netflix.[12]


On December 3, 2010, Disney closed the sale of Miramax for US $663 million to Filmyard Holdings, an investment group. The sale included 700 film titles, as well as books, development projects and the "Miramax" name. Mike Lang, the former News Corporation business development executive who was selected as the CEO of Miramax,[13] indicated that the company would focus on their existing library.[14]

After the sale was closed, some movies already developed at Miramax, including The Tempest and Gnomeo & Juliet, were eventually released by Disney under its Touchstone Pictures banner, and theatrical distribution of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark[15] and The Debt[16] has been shifted to FilmDistrict and Focus Features respectively.

On December 16, 2010, Miramax reunited with Bob and Harvey Weinstein, forming a joint venture with the brothers' current studio, The Weinstein Company, to develop sequels to films from the former studio. Sequels to Rounders, Bad Santa, and Shakespeare in Love are among the films being developed under this new deal, while sequels to Bridget Jones’s Diary, Cop Land, From Dusk till Dawn, Swingers, Clerks, Shall We Dance?, and The Amityville Horror are being billed as "potential" projects. Miramax and TWC also said they will partner on new television shows and special edition home entertainment releases.[17]

On February 11, 2011, Miramax entered a home entertainment agreement with Lions Gate Entertainment and StudioCanal to distribute over 550 titles from the Miramax library on DVD and Blu-ray. Lionsgate will handle distribution in the United States, with StudioCanal handling European distribution.[18][19] Later, on February 17, they struck a deal with Echo Bridge Entertainment to domestically distribute the company's additional 251-title catalog on DVD/Blu-ray.[20][21]

On March 1, 2011, Miramax renewed its Canadian distribution deal with Alliance Films, which had always been a distributor of Miramax releases in Canada from 1987 to 2008 and will replace Maple Pictures (which previously distributed Miramax releases from 2008 to 2011). Alliance will have access to all of the company's library titles once again as well as distribution rights to new Miramax films produced in the next five years.[22][23]

On March 25, 2011, Miramax entered licensing talks with various digital premium services, including Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Hulu, for digital distribution of the former company's film library.[24]

On August 2011, Miramax formed a partnership with Facebook to create a new app for the latter company's website. Dubbed the "Miramax eXperience," it allows the public to watch clips from the studio's films or rent full movies for 30 "Facebook credits." The films can also be viewed on the iPad or on Google TV.[25]


The company has been criticized for delaying or withholding release of Asian films to which he acquires the U.S. distribution rights.[26] while trying to bar retailers from legally exporting authentic DVDs of the films.[27]

Harvey Weinstein has been criticized for editing films he acquires or develops, such as Asian films like Princess Mononoke.[28] Weinstein has always insisted that such editing was done in the interest of creating the most financially viable film. "I'm not cutting for fun", Harvey Weinstein said in an interview. "I'm cutting for the shit to work. All my life I served one master: the film. I love movies."[4]

Miramax Family

Miramax Family (also known as Miramax Family Films) is the family division of Miramax Films created in 1991 and shut down in 2006. Some films distributed by them are:

List of Miramax films

Further reading

  • Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film by Peter Biskind (Simon & Schuster, 2004)


  1. ^ a b c d "Miramax offices close, Disney says brand continues". Lowell Sun. Associated Press. January 29, 2010. http://www.lowellsun.com/movies/ci_14294787. 
  2. ^ Chicago (2002)
  3. ^ "Miramax Deal On Distribution". The New York Times. February 6, 1992. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE1DB1139F935A35751C0A964958260. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Mason, Ian Garrick (October 11, 2004). "When Harvey met Mickey". New Statesman. UK. http://www3.sympatico.ca/ian.g.mason/Harvey_Weinstein.htm. Retrieved January 11, 2007. 
  5. ^ Etan Vlessing (June 21, 2011). "Analysts Welcome Lionsgate Selling Maple Pictures to Alliance Films". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/analysts-welcome-lionsgate-selling-maple-203710. 
  6. ^ . story Disney to slash Miramax Films staff to 20, reduce releases to 3 a year
  7. ^ http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jjSQMkAmK-lCcruC5tFMeKDra_RA
  8. ^ Brooks Barnes (October 31, 2009). "Daniel Battsek stepping down as President of Miramax". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/business/media/31film.html. 
  9. ^ Waxman, Sharon (January 27, 2010). "Miramax Dies: Rest in Peace". The Wrap, Inc.. http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/rip-miramax-13606. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  10. ^ Graser, Marc (January 29, 2010). "Rich Ross reshapes Disney film studios". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118014464.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&ref=bd_film. 
  11. ^ http://www.canadianbusiness.com/markets/market_news/article.jsp?content=D9DOVUU80
  12. ^ Theresa McCabe (November 23, 2010). "Google Eyes Miramax to Boost YouTube". TheStreet. http://www.thestreet.com/story/10930479/google-eyes-miramax-to-boost-youtube.html?x=0. 
  13. ^ Ryan Nakashima (December 5, 2010). "Disney completes $663M sale of Miramax". Associated Press via Yahoo News. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Disney-completes-663M-sale-of-apf-1909918456.html?x=0. 
  14. ^ Brent Lang (December 14, 2010). "Miramax CEO Lang Grilled: 'We're Focusing on the Library'". The Wrap. http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/miramax-ceo-michael-lang-were-re-establishing-brand-23248?x=0. 
  15. ^ "FilmDistrict To Distribute 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark' Remake". Deadline. February 14, 2011. http://www.deadline.com/2011/02/filmdistrict-to-distribute-dont-be-afraid-of-the-dark-remake/?x=0. 
  16. ^ "Focus Features to Distribute Miramax’s THE DEBT Starring Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington". Collider. February 9, 2011. http://collider.com/the-debt-focus-features-miramax/75337/?x=0. 
  17. ^ Dylan Stableford (December 16, 2010). "Miramax, Weinstein Co. to Produce Sequels to "Bad Santa," "Swingers" (updated)". The Wrap. http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/miramax-weinstein-co-announce-pact-produce-sequels-23286?x=0. 
  18. ^ "Lionsgate, StudioCanal to distribute Miramax films". BusinessWeek. February 11, 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9LALCDG3.htm?x=0. 
  19. ^ "Lionsgate, Studiocanal and Miramax Enter Into Home Entertainment Distribution Agreements". Yahoo! Finance. February 11, 2011. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Lionsgate-Studiocanal-and-prnews-2517243937.html?x=0. 
  20. ^ Rachel Abrams (February 17, 2011). "Miramax, Echo Bridge team for DVD distrib". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118032499?x=0. 
  21. ^ "Echo Bridge to Distribute 251 Miramax Titles on DVD, Blu-ray". The Wrap. February 17, 2011. http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/echo-bridge-distribute-251-miramax-titles-dvd-blu-ray-24845. 
  22. ^ Rachel Abrams (March 1, 2011). "Miramax, Alliance Films renew Canada pact". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118033100?refCatId=13. 
  23. ^ "Miramax and Alliance Films Renew Partnership in Canada". BusinessWire. March 1, 2011. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110301006967/en/Miramax-Alliance-Films-Renew-Partnership-Canada. 
  24. ^ "Miramax in talks with Netflix, Google, Hulu, others for digital distribution deal". Los Angeles Times. March 25, 2011. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/03/miramax-netflix-googley-hulu-digital-distribution.html. 
  25. ^ Hayley Tsukayama (August 25, 2011). "Facebook launches Miramax eXperience app". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/faster-forward/post/facebook-launches-miramax-experience-app/2011/08/23/gIQAOZXpYJ_blog.html. 
  26. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (October 10, 2005). "The great illusionist". Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2127757/?nav=tap3. Retrieved January 11, 2007. 
  27. ^ Katie Dean. "Studio Warns Kung Fu Site". Wired. http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/news/2003/12/61554. 
  28. ^ Brooks, Xan (September 14, 2005). "A god among animators". The Guardian (UK). http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,6737,1569689,00.html. Retrieved May 23, 2007. 

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