Reports are frantic that the bidding for Miramax is almost over. A group of investors, which doesn’t include Harvey and Bob Weinstein, seems eager to get the once great company. Now Colony Capital, the group that is also co owner of Michael Jackson’s Neverland, is said to be in the mix. The total price Disney wants: $675 million.
But Colony’s very astute Thomas Barrack should understand something essential: there is no Miramax without the Weinsteins. The name is too closely identified with the brothers who named the film company after their parents. In the five years since the Weinsteins left Miramax and started The Weinstein Company, Miramax has lost almost all of its name value.
What are Colony and friends buying really? A library of 50 really great movies including Best Picture winners: Shakespeare in Love, Chicago and The English Patient. There’s also The Cider House Rules, Good Will Hunting, Finding Neverland, Fahrenheit 911, Il Postino, Chocolat, In the Bedroom, Gangs of New York, Frida, Cold Mountain, Emma, City of God, Cinema Paradiso, sex lies and videotape, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and and the Tarantino movies Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2.
That’s it, really. There are lesser films in the library, and there may be a may to milk some dough out of them with TV sales. But otherwise Miramax is just a name. And it’s a name that means little without the Weinsteins. For quite a while now former Mirmaxers have scratched their heads wondering how Disney came up with their $700 million pricetag. The fact is, the public is smart. They know the Weinsteins are at their own company. Miramax is quickly turning into a name like Orion–one with no history attached to it.
At this point, the Weinsteins–with many potential Oscar nominees set for this fall release– are probably smart to let the whole thing go. True, not having the name Miramax is sad. But in the end, what’s the point? For Colony and whatever combo of investors to make Miramax work, they’re going to have to come to the Weinsteins later and make some kind of deal. Otherwise, they’ve just bought a name and a library. The Weinsteins are what brought cache to it. If you don’t agree, just think of the post-Weinstein Miramax run by Daniel Battsek. It just never got off the ground despite Battsek’s good taste and intent.
And Tom Barrack? He bought Neverland thinking it could be turned into a Graceland for Michael Jackson fans. But that never happened, wasn’t possible. Now Neverland is known as Sycamore Valley Ranch, it’s empty and will be sold off one day. It’s a very similar situation. He might just as well rename Miramax Sycamore Valley Films.