ViacomCBS to Acquire 49 Percent Stake in Miramax for $375 Million

Bill Block -Miramax- Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of Miramax

The L.A.-based company, which has been owned by Doha-based BeIN Media Group and run by CEO Bill Block, has a library with 700-plus titles, including such Oscar winners as 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Chicago.'

ViacomCBS has agreed to acquire a 49 percent stake in Miramax, which has a library of 700-plus titles, including Oscar winners like Pulp Fiction, Chicago, Scream, Good Will Hunting and No Country for Old Men, for $375 million in a deal with BeIN Media Group.

Under the terms of the transaction, ViacomCBS will make an upfront cash payment of approximately $150 million and has committed to investing $45 million annually over the next five years, for a total of $225 million, to provide funding for new film and television productions and working capital.

In addition, Viacom's Paramount Pictures has entered an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax's film library and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount "to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax's IP."

BeIN and ViacomCBS said they would also explore "other strategic partnership opportunities across content production and distribution, live events and recreation globally."

The companies said the deal would "create synergies and other valuable opportunities through both new production and co-financing opportunities in film and TV, and the combined distribution of both new and existing library content."

The Los Angeles-based Miramax, which has been run by CEO Bill Block for the last two years, had been on the auction block for months.

The recently recombined ViacomCBS had long been seen as a potential buyer or investor in the studio. The conglomerate has said it would look for smaller deals for assets that fit into its portfolio as CEO Bob Bakish and chair Shari Redstone look to add to the firm's stable of franchises. Lionsgate had also been a bidder for Miramax but bowed out in September. Spyglass is also understood to have been looking at a possible deal.

"Miramax is a renowned global studio, responsible for some of the most iconic films of the last three decades, including Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Kill Bill and more,” said Bakish. "This partnership with BeIN will be a unique opportunity to gain access to a valuable library, deepening our already substantial pool of IP at a time when demand for premium content is only accelerating. We look forward to working closely with the Miramax management team as we explore new ways to deliver its titles across a variety of platforms and create new, compelling projects."

Said Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of BeIN: "This represents a major investment in and endorsement of our thriving Miramax business, which has grown in value under BeIN Media Group’s ownership and has a fantastic future ahead with major new movies and unexploited premium dramas. We are thrilled to partner with ViacomCBS and Paramount to explore further opportunities around Miramax's iconic IP, and also at group level, while substantially increasing the scale of our entertainment business."

He added: "This deal further underlines BeIN’s ambitions on the global stage — we are very proud to have established ourselves as one of the leading groups in sport, entertainment and media.”

The market for library assets has heated up as Hollywood giants — including Disney and AT&T's WarnerMedia — look to challenge Netflix in the direct-to-consumer space with their own streaming services with thousands of hours of film and TV content.

Miramax was founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979 and distributed titles like Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Disney acquired the company in 1993, before it produced a slew of prestige films, including The English Patient, Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love.

The studio changed hands again in 2010 when Ronald Tutor and Colony Capital acquired the studio from Disney for what was said at the time to be $650 million.

Since 2016, the studio has been owned by Doha-based BeIN, which operates TV channels in the Middle East, Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. The company said it secured $300 million in financing 2018, which it said would help the studio produce four to six films a year, as well as TV series. BeIN then appeared to start publicly searching for a buyer earlier in 2019.

Among the studio's recent films are 2018's Halloween, co-produced with Blumhouse, which grossed $255 million worldwide. On Miramax's 2020 slate are Guy Ritchie's crime caper The Gentleman, as well as Russell Crowe thriller The Georgetown Project.  

The ViacomCBS-Miramax deal is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.