Lionsgate Bows Out of Miramax Bidding

Miramax_Comp - REX - H 2019
Laurie Sparham/Miramax/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock; Miramax/Photofest(2)

The extensive library and potential franchise rights, in fact, may be a tremendously valuable asset in the streaming era.

Lions Gate Entertainment has bowed out of the race to acquire Miramax, the indie studio that was founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979 and boasts a library of 700 films, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Viacom has emerged as the frontrunner to purchase some sort of stake in Miramax, sources say. The studio cycled through a variety of owners before it was purchased three years ago by beIN Media Group, a subsidiary of Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar. Bloomberg first reported that Lions Gate bowed out of the bidding.

Other suitors, including Spyglass Media Group, which previously acquired the assets of The Weinstein Co., have bowed out of the bidding, leaving Viacom as a likely equity partner even as it is in the midst of merging with CBS to create a merged company that will be dubbed ViacomCBS. 

Viacom and Miramax were unavailable for comment. Lions Gate declined to comment.

Miramax, which is run by CEO Bill Block, co-produced the 2018 Halloween revival, which earned $255 million worldwide for distributor Universal, and its library contains such notable titles as Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love.

The extensive library and potential franchise rights, in fact, may be a tremendously valuable asset in an era when streaming-media firms, like Netflix and the soon-to-launch Apple TV+, are scrambling for proven content as Disney hordes its own in preparation of Disney+, which is set to debut Nov. 12.

The soon-to-be ViacomCBS also has streaming ambitions beyond CBS All Access and Showtime's over-the-top service, which, together, should have 25 million subscribers by 2022, executives have said.

Analysts have speculated that ViacomCBS would be on the hunt for acquisitions once their merger is finalized, with Discovery Communications being floated as a possibility, along with AMC Networks, MGM or even pieces of Rupert Murdoch's Fox Corp, whose primary assets after selling off most of the conglomerate to Disney consists of the Fox broadcast network and Fox News.

Disney purchased Miramax for $60 million in 1993 and sold it 17 years later for $663 million. The Weinstein brothers named the company after their parents, Miriam and Max, and departed the firm in 2005 to create The Weinstein Co., which Lantern Capital purchased out of bankruptcy following Harvey Weinstein's scandal. It operates now as Spyglass.