There was sad news last Friday for the indie film world. Disney is downsizing the new, or faux, Miramax. This is the post-Weinstein Miramax run by the very popular and talented Daniel Battsek since the Weinsteins left to start their own company four years ago.
The plan, according to reports in THR and elsewhere, is for Miramax to be stripped down to nothing but three releases a year. Battsek, who brought plenty of good films into the tent, is staying with the company. But most everyone else is leaving. It’s truly a shame, but it’s also probably a function of Dreamworks coming to Disney. If the Spielberg studio had wound up at Universal, Focus might be the mini that was folded.
So what to do now? It seems like a good time for Disney to give the Miramax name back to the Weinsteins. Either use it or lose it, you know. Miramax is named for the Weinstein parents Miriam and Max. It has nothing to do with Disney. Even now, the Miramax website features the ton of videos left behind by the Weinsteins including two Best Picture winners (”Chicago,” “The English Patient”) and a raft of Oscar nominees (from “Good Will Hunting” to “The Cider House Rules,” “Pulp Fiction,” “In the Bedroom,” “Cinema Paradiso,” etc).
Of course there was a lot of enmity between the Weinsteins and Disney during their divorce. But that was in the day of Michael Eisner. Disney’s Bob Iger is a different person, and the incoming new chief Rich Ross has no history with them. Keeping Miramax would be similar to Disney losing their Buena Vista label. They’d be fighting for it forever.
The Weinsteins haven’t said anything (at least not to me) but if Disney is really whittling the name down to nothing, this would seem like a good time to return it. Disney still keeps all the movies made by Harvey and Bob, and by Daniel. But a legacy is returned in the process. For a company based on old fashioned values, this would be Disney’s ultimate act of family friendliness.