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Ron Tutor-led group closes Miramax deal [Updated]

December 3, 2010 |  2:53 pm

Construction magnate Ron Tutor has officially gone Hollywood. And Walt Disney Co. can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Updated 3:30 p.m.Tutor and a group of investors, including Los Angeles private equity firm Colony Capital, have closed on the acquisition of independent movie company Miramax Films and its library of more than 700 films, which was sold by Disney for $663 million. [An earlier version of the story reported the price was about $650 million for some 611 titles.] The parties had agreed on the deal in principle five months ago.Tutor

Updated: The largest investor in the purchase -- which includes approximately $200 million in equity and roughly $400 million in debt -- is Qatar Holding , followed by Tutor and Colony. [An earlier version missated the name of the company as Qatar Investment Agency, and reported the equity amount as $250 million]

Colony's founding chairman and chief executive, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., also personally invested in the deal, said a person familiar with the matter.

As previously reported, Miramax will be headed by CEO Mike Lang, a former News Corp. business development executive with experience in digital media.

The new owners, according to a person close to the company, do not have plans to hire a top creative executive any time soon. That's because rather than produce or acquire new movies for the next year to 18 months, they will focus on exploiting Miramax's library, which includes such Oscar-winning titles as "Shakespeare In Love," "The English Patient" and "Chicago," and reviewing the 300 projects in development and rights to 90 book titles that were included in the deal, the person said.

Over the next year, the investors also plan to rebuild Miramax's staff and infrastructure, which was dismantled in January after Disney shut down its operations and put it up for sale. Disney CEO Bob Iger had soured on the specialty film business, determining that it no longer fit into the company's strategy to focus on "branded" entertainment aimed at wide audiences.

The new Miramax owners plan to eventually have a staff of 60 to 80 employees.

Earlier this year, Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein -- backed by supermarket investor Ron Burkle -- came close to reclaiming the company they founded in 1979 and sold to Disney in 1993. But the deal unraveled at the eleventh hour when they lowered what they were willing to pay and Disney walked away.

News that the deal closed Friday was first reported by the Wrap. Disney did not immediately return a call for comment.

-- Claudia Eller

Photo: Ron Tutor. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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