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Miramax talks come down to the wire: Trouble with Mark Cuban? [Updated]

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If only all their movies were this dramatic.

Walt Disney Co.'s efforts to unload Miramax Films may reach a climax within 24 hours. The Weinstein brothers and their financial partner Ron Burkle are in the final hours of their exclusive negotiating period with Disney to seal a deal.

However, in a potential last-minute glitch, a shareholder in the Weinstein Co., which is Bob and Harvey Weinstein's production company, is voicing concerns about the plans.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and one of the investors in the Weinstein Co., told Bloomberg News that he is having "issues" with the company over the Miramax situation. Cuban did not elaborate with Bloomberg on what specifically his concerns with the deal were.

However, a person familiar with the situation said Cuban's issues have to do more with the movie "The Road," a Weinstein Co. release that he invested in, rather than with the deal. In an e-mail to Company Town, Cuban would say only that if he is not "able to resolve our issue, we may have no choice but to take the advice our lawyers have given us."

While there has been whispers that some of the financial backers of the privately held Weinstein Co., which includes Cuban, Goldman Sachs, French media company TF1 and advertising giant WPP are not on board with the deal, people close to the Weinsteins have denied that and add that its board has no issues with the Miramax plans.

Among the concerns of at least one backer is that it is a conflict for the Weinsteins to be involved in managing an asset apart from running the Weinstein Co. The Weinstein Co. would receive a fee for managing the assets for Burkle. There is also worry that the Weinsteins, who have faced severe financial challenges over the last few years, need to stay focused on that asset and not Miramax.

Whether any of this is really enough to derail talks is unclear. People with knowledge of the situation expect Disney and the Weinsteins and their backers to keep talking through the night if need be in hopes of closing the deal. However, so-called deadlines in such situations are often fluid. The Weinsteins' original $600-million bid, led by Burkle, was recently raised to $625 million to take over the 611-title Miramax library and other unreleased films.

[Updated at 3:48 p.m.: A Weinstein Co. spokeswoman said the company's board is "completely up to speed and supportive with regards to our conversations concerning Miramax." As for Cuban, the spokeswoman said his issues are with the distribution of "The Road," which was a box office disappointment. "We all would have liked for this brilliant film to have done, better but unfortunately we simply didn’t get the traction,” the spokeswoman said.]

People familiar with the offer said Burkle is putting up about $300 million of the purchase price in cash, and the other half will be debt provided by Fortress Investment Group and potentially other funds.

Disney has been working to get the bid closer to the $700 million it initially sought for the specialty film label, whose library includes such Oscar-winning films as "Chicago" and "Shakespeare in Love."

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski, Claudia Eller and Joe Flint

Photo: Harvey, left, and Bob Weinstein on Oscar night 1997. Credit: Steve Grayson / Reuters

 
Comments () | Archives (1)

Yeah, I was waiting for The Road to be released so I could see it, but apparently TWC skipped the southeastern US with their release strategy. Oh well...


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