New Miramax Chair Thomas Barrack on Nanula Fallout and New Directions (Q&A)
The Colony Capital CEO tells THR about his new hands-on role at the film company and how he's looking to expand its library while acquiring other independent movie and TV operations.
Thomas Barrack Jr. didn’t have a very restful July 4th weekend. The executive was traveling outside the U.S. while also dealing with the fallout from a sex scandal that led to the exit of Richard Nanula as chairman of Miramax, the film company in which Barrack and Colony are investors. Nanula also resigned as a partner in Colony Capital (part of Colony Financial Inc.), which Barrack founded and still runs as CEO.
On Monday, Barrack added duties as chairman of Miramax, whose primary asset is a library of about 700 movies and TV shows that was purchased from Disney in 2010 for $663 million in a negotiation led by Nanula, the former CFO of Disney. The largest investor is the Qatar Holdings.
In an exclusive Tuesday interview with The Hollywood Reporter, conducted via e-mail, Barrack revealed that he plans to take a hands-on role at Miramax, and that the company is actively looking to expand by acquiring more film and TV libraries. He said Miramax also is open to acquiring or merging with other independent movie companies.
The Hollywood Reporter: Now that you are chairman of Miramax, in addition to all your other duties at Colony Capital, do you plan to take an active role at the movie company? How long do you envision having this role?
Thomas Barrack Jr.: I will absolutely take a hands-on role at Miramax.
THR: What does that mean? Do you envision any changes at Miramax now that you are chairman?
Barrack: We will continue to execute on the business plan, which has not changed. The management has surgically executed the harvesting operation on 700+ Miramax films that were basically untouched when we acquired the company, and that has been the primary business plan: taking advantage of the available [titles for license]. Stage two is looking for other film libraries to acquire, starting independent television and film production in a judicious manner, and looking for M&A opportunities with other independent movie companies or other entities that fit with the Miramax model.
THR: Has the Miramax library now been sold worldwide or is there still a lot to be done?
Barrack: This is just the beginning. However, we have increased the sales of available [titles] exponentially since our acquisition in a variety of mediums.
THR: There is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that the Miramax acquisition has not worked out as hoped and has not produced as much revenue as expected. Can you comment on that speculation?
Barrack: Miramax was, is and continues to be a fantastic investment and exceeded our expectations. Miramax is one of the best returns on equity investments that Colony has made in the last decade.
THR: Can you provide any revenue, profit or cash flow numbers for Miramax to show how it is doing?
Barrack: Miramax is a private company, so we don’t provide such information other than that it is extremely profitable, well beyond our expectations.
THR: Is Nanula’s departure a setback for Miramax or Colony, and if so, in what ways? How would you rate Nanula’s performance during his time at Miramax and Colony?
Barrack: This is a personal matter for Richard and unrelated to Miramax. We have a policy on not commenting on past employees or executives. Richard did an excellent job at managing his business duties.
THR: Miramax has not had a CEO since Mike Lang left last March. Are you actively searching for a new CEO, or are you satisfied with the team that is currently in place?
Barrack: Miramax is being run by an independent team of professionals led by Steve Schoch, in whom we have the utmost confidence.
THR: Are you interested in acquiring any more film/TV libraries or making an acquisition of another company to combine with Miramax?
Barrack: Yes. Stage two of the Miramax business plan includes looking for other film libraries to acquire and looking for M&A opportunities with other independent movie companies or other entities that fit with the Miramax model. This is in addition to starting independent television and film production in a judicious manner.
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