Weinsteins, Miramax Strike 20-Year Production, Distribution Partnership

Harvey Weinstein - H 2013
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The move allows Harvey Weinstein to tackle a "Shakespeare in Love" sequel as well as a TV series based on the 1996 comedy "Swingers."

The Weinstein Company and Miramax films have struck a 20-year deal that allows Harvey and Bob Weinstein to produce and domestically distribute content derived from the Miramax library.

Among the first titles that Harvey Weinstein says he will tackle as part of the arrangement is a Shakespeare in Love sequel and a TV series based on the 1996 comedy Swingers. Miramax owners Colony Capital and Qatar Holding will finance any projects generated under the agreement, and the Weinsteins will produce and distribute domestically. Miramax will sell the titles internationally.

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"It's like opening the treasure at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark but actually having the keys to the treasure," Harvey Weinstein told The Hollywood Reporter. "The deal is structured for 20 years, but we hope it lasts forever."

No money changed hands with the transaction that sees the Weinstein brothers gaining access to a 750-title library and some additional 250 development projects that they once controlled as the founders of Miramax Films, which was acquired by Disney in 1993. In 2005, the brothers exited Miramax to start The Weinstein Co., leaving behind an iconic library that includes Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Flirting With Disaster.

For a Shakespeare in Love sequel, Weinstein says he is eyeing British playwright James Graham (This House) to write a script, but he will not make a deal until the ink is dry on the new Weinstein Co.-Miramax partnership. There is no talent yet attached to a Swingers adaptation for the small screen, though Weinstein says the time is perfect for the project "in a post-Entourage marketplace." Flirting With Disaster and Good Will Hunting also are being targeted as TV series. The new deal covers theater projects as well.

The move allows the privately held institutional investment firm Colony, which bought Miramax in 2010 for $663 million, to keep the library fresh. Unlike The Weinstein Co., Miramax does not have a production staff that could handle mining the library for new content.

"Part of the criticism we received when we bought the library was due to the fact that we're not producers, and we could not do justice to this library," Colony founder, chairman and CEO Thomas Barrack Jr. told THR. "Imagine if we had told our shareholder base that we want to make a Pulp Fiction sequel. We would hear a click on the other end of the line."

The Weinsteins, backed by Los Angeles investor Ron Burkle, nearly closed a deal to buy the library from Disney in 2010, but the deal fell apart when they decided the assets were not worth their initial bid of $650 million and changed their offer to $575 million.

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"Qatar Holding fully supports this exciting development for Miramax, as part of a long-term strategy to further enhance the value in the company's extensive catalog of material," Qatar Holding said in a statement. "By securing an agreement between Miramax and The Weinstein Co., the deal brings together two of the best known names in the film industry to provide a dynamic partnership, which will take Miramax to the next stage in its journey."

Barrack would not divulge how much development and production money the Weinsteins will receive per year, stressing that it will depend on a number of variables.

"We have plenty of capacity," he said. "We just want to walk before we run."

Added Harvey Weinstein: "They want to mine their library, but in a smart way. If we get it right, the sky is the limit."

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com
Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27