Weinstein's Leaving Miramax, Will Form New Company; Brothers Taking Dimension Label, Leaving All Film Libraries at Disney
by Eugene Hernandez
Miramax Films co-chairmen and founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein will leave the company they founded 25 years ago, according to an announcement released today (Tuesday). Disney and the Weinstein's confirmed that the two brothers will continue at Miramax on a non-exclusive basis through September 30, 2005, with an announcement of the new Miramax leadership to come from Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook in July. The settlement keeps the Miramax Films name at Disney, along with the Miramax and Dimension libraries, while the Weinstein's will take the Dimension label to their new company.
The Weinstein's said Tuesday that they would launch a new company and begin production, development, and acquisition for the new venture immediately. While currently dubbed, "The Weinstein Company," more details including its official name, backers, and other information will come in the next few weeks, according to Tuesday's announcement. Initial information indicates that the outfit will explore broadcasting and the Internet, as well as the production, acquisition, and distribution business for which Bob and Harvey Weinstein have become famous. The joint announcement also indicated that Disney and the Weinstein's would potentially collaborate on as many as 25 or more projects, including (but not limited to), co-productions of sequels to "Scary Movie" and "Spy Kids," and through co-financing the production and distribution of "Breaking and Entering" and "The Matador." An announcement about the future of Miramax Books is expected later this week.
"We're very proud of the company we've built over the past 25 years and of the films that, with your help, we've been able to bring to audiences around the world," Bob and Harvey Weinstein told their employees in an email message Tuesday afternoon (obtained by indieWIRE). "As we are completing one chapter, we are preparing to begin the next." Attaching a copy of the press release that would be sent to the media later in the day, the Weinstein's added, "Thanks again for your incredible performance over the years and your patience with this process."
The news comes after months of speculation about the future of Miramax Films and Bob and Harvey Weinstein, fueled by tensions that seemed to grow one year ago when Disney stopped the brothers from distributing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which would go on to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Since then, Disney CEO Michael Eisner has announced his departure, to be replaced this year by current company president and COO Bob Iger on the Weinstein's last day with Miramax. Disney acquired Miramax in 1993 and since then it has been considered a veritable Oscar-machine, earning the company 3 best picture Academy Awards and some 220 Oscar nominations, yielding a total of 53 of the film industry's prized honors. The company name was formed by a combination of the brother's parent's names, Miriam and Max Weinstein.
"We are incredibly grateful for the chances we have been given at Disney over the past 12 years. As movie fans, we truly appreciate the unique opportunities we have had to work with some of the greatest talent, both on screen and off, in sharing such a wide range of independent and foreign films and Miramax and Dimension productions with audiences around the world," said Bob and Harvey Weinstein in a statement. "We are thankful to Dick Cook for his commitment to making this agreement possible and we appreciate Bob Iger's contributions too. We know that there is no bigger fan of our movies than Michael Eisner and think it was pretty brave of him to give us the ability to make movies like 'Hero' and 'City of God.' We look forward to working with Bob and Dick and everyone else at Disney on projects in the future. We've nurtured Miramax over the past 25 years and are proud of the valuable film library we've built for Disney shareholders."
Bob and Harvey Weinstein will work on completing current productions, as well as oversee marketing and distribution of Miramax and Dimension Films scheduled for release. After the new Miramax leadership is unveiled, the brothers will work with the new team during a July through September transition in which the new and old Miramax leaders will report directly to Dick Cook. "The Weinstein's will make no new financial commitments towards the development, acquisition or production of projects on behalf of Miramax," according to the announcement.
"Disney's film library has benefited tremendously from the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed films developed under Harvey and Bob," said Robert A. Iger, in a statement. "Their creative instincts are undeniable, and they have developed a valuable asset for this company. We look forward to future collaborations with them through this newly established relationship."
"Harvey and Bob's unprecedented 12-year association with Disney will go down in the motion picture annals for its unparalleled contributions to independent filmmaking and the entrepreneurial creative spirit they fostered within a corporate environment," said Michael Eisner, CEO, The Walt Disney Company. "The Weinstein's passion and enthusiasm for film are infinite and will thrive wherever their vision takes them."