Sunday, 6 May 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #895: Wanna Buy Miramax?

Billionaire construction tycoon Ron Tutor has decided that he's had enough of playing mini-movie mogul who does everything he can to avoid actually making movies as much as possible, and announced that he's hoping to sell his stake in Miramax within the next week or so.

If you don't know your history, Miramax was the indie film powerhouse founded by brothers Harvey & Bob Weinstein in 1979.  It became an indie film powerhouse in the early 1990s, attracting the attention of the Disney empire which bought it in 1993.  However, the business practices and personalities of the Weinstein Brothers chafed with the more staid Disney management culture.  

Things came to a head in 2005 when the Weinsteins were forced out of the company they founded.  After that Miramax became just another division of Disney distributing art house films in ever dwindling numbers until 2010 when they sold it a partnership between Vegas builder Ron Tutor and investment fund Colony Capital.

Since then the number of productions dwindled even more to a token trickle, since the business plan of the new owners was to turn the company into a library management firm as opposed to a traditional movie company. They made some big deals licensing Miramax movies in various mediums, and even made a deal to add management of the rights to the Samuel Goldwyn film library to their stable.

Now this is the part where, if you listen carefully, you can hear me kick my own ass for being stupid.

You see, I should have seen this coming the moment they announced the Samuel Goldwyn deal, because that was the moment the whole Miramax as library business plan hit about as much value as it is ever going to get.

As I've been saying all along the key to running a successful film library is maintaining a steady stream of fresh product. A library that isn't growing will inevitably become dead weight. Even classics fall out of fashion for periods of time as the media outlets that require content look at everything you have and say "What else have you got?"

The Goldwyn library was the last major collection of cinematic assets that aren't already under the control of someone else. That's it, there is no more to be had.

Tutor isn't a dummy, he saw that too, knows that they've done the 3 things needed to be done to increase the value of Miramax while avoiding making new films as much as possible:

1. Deals were made to profit from the existing library.

2. They added all they could to the library by assuming management of the Goldwyn movies.

3. They got David Bergstein to fuck off. (Though it would have been better not letting him have anything at all to do with the deal in the first place)

There's nothing else they could do outside of making lots of new movies, and Tutor apparently has no interest in doing that because it takes time, serious calorie burning, and a hell of a lot of risk.

It's the smart move for him to sell out now, and I really should have seen it coming.

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