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Sunday, 16 August 2009
Neither the Weinsteins, Nor Miramax Is the Same, Unfortunately

After reading the article on the Weinsteins in the New York Times this morning, I was struck by a thought.  The article seemed to focus on the 'downfall' of the Weinsteins--so to speak--and fails to present the argumentative portion of the picture (pardon the pun).  Not only has The Weinstein Company been a bitter disappointment (at least for me), but Miramax (a company founded by the Weinsteins--named after their mother and father for God's sake) has been as well.  Many of us at the time knew this divorce would hurt Miramax/Disney, but very few of us doubted the brother's ability to duplicate their success. I remember having lunch with an agent friend and we both came to the conclusion that Disney and Eisner were making a huge mistake and that the Weinsteins would just "build it again."

We couldn't have been more wrong.

The Weisteins put their own nail in the coffin when they sold the company to Disney.  I'm not sure there could have possibly been a worse choice/place for them.   Walt Disney?  Walt Disney makes huge, sappy films like Flipper and Mickey Mouse and Pluto.  What would possibly have made them think Disney was a good place for an independent film company known for taking risks?  I could see why Disney might have wanted Miramax, sure, but not the other way around.  Once Miramax sold out, they were no longer an independent film company--no matter how much latitude the Mouse House gave them.  They were a corporation, answering to a bunch of suits.  When you have been your own boss for almost 15 years, I don't care how much money someone puts in your face (in the Weinstein's case it was 70 million) you either don't sell, or you sell and leave.  I remember people thinking the Weinsteins were crazy for selling.  I think what they were after, though, was money to make bigger pictures.  In short, I think they were bored, but didn't want to lose their own money.  

Enter a "partnership."

The flip side of it is, what was the value of Miramax without the Weinsteins?  We're finding that out today.  Other than the library itself--not much.  The brothers were the obsessive, aggressive, take no prisoners driving force, and without them, Miramax was a paper tiger.  So, the deal was 50% retaining Bob and Harvey.  There might not have been a deal without them (I don't remember for sure, but I doo think that was the case).

I think had the Weinsteins left in 1993, they would have been able to build it again, quite easily. But, by 2005, the film industry had begun to sink into the abyss, and the movement/market that the brothers had started (the production and acquisition of art and independent films) had become saturated.  The brothers delving into other things with their financing certainly didn't help matters.

Sometimes marriages deteriorate because neither party is willing to compromise.  And, the Weinsteins and Michael Eisner were War of the Roses.  It's hard to put three moguls in a room, and not break some china.

It leaves the rest of wondering what could have been.  And, maybe Bob and Harvey as well.  After all, they were/are as big of fans of great films as anyone. Now, instead of two companies developing, buying and financing independent films, you essentially have two neutered entities that don't add up to the sum of what was once the whole.  I'm not ready to write The Weinstein Company and Miramax's obituaries yet.

But, we might want to start looking at headstones.

(You might have to register to view this Times story--link below)

Posted on 08/16/2009 12:00 PM by Todd Carr
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