Disney reaches agreement in principle to sell Miramax to Ron Tutor-led group
Walt Disney Co. has reached an agreement in principle to sell Miramax Films and its 611-film library to construction executive Ron Tutor for about $650 million, according to people close to the situation.
Tutor and a group of investors, including Colony Capital, will invest $300 million in equity -- with additional financing coming from minority partners including James Robinson, chairman of Morgan Creek Productions, and an unidentified investor group from the Middle East.
In addition to distributing the library, which includes films such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love," the new Miramax is expected to produce several new movies annually. For the first year, Walt Disney Studios will distribute its movies until a new distribution operation has been formed.
Colony principal Richard Nanula, a former chief financial officer at Disney, is expected to oversee the new Miramax on behalf of its new owners. The buyers are expected to hire an experienced movie executive to handle day-to-day operations, including production and distribution. Morgan Creek would probably handle overseas distribution of the Miramax films.
Troubled film financier David Bergstein, who has been advising the Tutor group, will not work for the new Miramax, said a person familiar with the matter.
If all goes smoothly, the deal is expected to close by July 28.
Disney first put Miramax up for sale in January, as it decided to exit the independent film business. It came very close to selling the specialty film label to supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, who was working with Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein, for $625 million, but that deal fell apart in May. In June, Tutor entered exclusive negotiations with Disney for Miramax. He had previously made a bid in April.
A Disney spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz
Photo: Ron Tutor. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.