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Ron Burkle in talks with Weinsteins as Disney pushes back bids for Miramax

March 31, 2010 |  4:41 pm

Once again Walt Disney Co. has pushed back the deadline for submitting bids to acquire the specialty label Miramax Films to April 5, according to people with knowledge of the situation.MIRAMAXkxwtyhnc

As the deadline approaches, one prospective bidder has dropped out: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, whose RedZone Capital investment firm decided not to submit an offer after reviewing documents and having discussions with Disney executives, said two people close to the bidding process.

That leaves Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who are looking to reclaim the studio named for their parents, Miriam and Max, and boasts such library tiles as Oscar winners "Shakespeare in Love," "The English Patient" and "Chicago."

The brothers are in talks with a number of potential financial partners, including supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, who runs the Yucaipa Companies investment firm, said three people familiar with the matter.

Burkle did not return calls seeking comment.

Brothers Alec and Tom Gores, who run separate investment firms, are joining together to submit a bid for Miramax's library. Their sibling Sam Gores, who runs the Paradigm talent agency, is advising his two brothers in the negotiations, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

There is a possibility that the Gores brothers could involve the Weinstein brothers in a strategic role, said knowledgeable people, but not as financial partners. 

The Weinsteins are not only familiar with Miramax's film catalog, but they hold sequel rights to several of the studio's movies, which Disney has the right to co-finance. The Miramax founders also have access to distribution, something that the Gores would have to arrange if they were to acquire the library. Under one scenario, the Gores could strike a deal with Disney to release the movies.

Disney shut down the independent film unit this year, closing offices in New York and Los Angeles and laying off dozens of people. The Burbank media conglomerate began quietly courting would-be buyers for the Miramax library, which it believes it could fetch $700 million.

Several investment firms and independent studios -- including Lions Gate Entertainment, Summit Entertainment and Amir Malin's investment fund Qualia Capital -- have expressed interest in Miramax, but balked at the asking price.

-- Dawn Chmielewski and Claudia Eller

Photo: Kate Beckinsale and Robert De Niro in the Miramax movie "Everybody's Fine." Credit: Abbot Genser/Miramax Film Corp.