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New Miramax finds its home entertainment distributors: Lionsgate and Studiocanal [Updated]

February 11, 2011 |  8:08 am

Shakespeare The new owners of Miramax Films have signed Lionsgate and Studiocanal as global distribution partners for their most prized asset: The independent studio's home entertainment library of more than 550 titles.

Under a multi-year deal announced Friday, Santa Monica studio Lionsgate and Paris film company Studiocanal will handle release of the Miramax movies on all home entertainment platforms, including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download, and Internet video-on-demand.

Lionsgate will distribute the titles, which include "Shakespeare in Love," "Kill Bill," and "Good Will Hunting" in the U.S., Canada and Britain while Studiocanal will handle the rest of Europe. [Updated at 8:29 a.m.: Lionsgate will coordinate with other companies to handle distribution in the rest of the world.

While Lionsgate will handle the digital download-to-own business, it will work with Miramax on deals for video-on-demand, said Miramax chief executive Mike Lang.

MIramax, meanwhile, is looking to sign its own subscription deals with a pay cable network or online companies such as Netflix. It will also handle its own television distribution.

Lang said he will hire a home entertainment executive to coordinate management of his studio's library with Lionsgate home entertainment chief Steve Beeks.]

Securing distributors for the Miramax library has been a top priority for its chief executive Mike Lang, who took over when a consortium of owners led by Colony Capital and Ron Tutor bought Miramax from Walt Disney Co. in December.

Until Miramax begins producing new films, the studio's library is its primary revenue generator, making the selection of home entertainment partners crucial to its future. The restructured Miramax is expected to have between 60 and 80 employees and won't have the capability to release its own DVDs. Lang had talked to many Hollywood studios about a potential partnership before closing the newly announced deal.

[Updated at 8:38 a.m.: Under the terms of the deal, Lionsgate and Studiocanal have guaranteed Miramax a minimum amount of money and will receive a percentage of revenue from DVD and digital sales and rentals.]

Lionsgate has been seeking to add titles to its existing library of more than 13,000 movies and television episodes through potential acquisitions and mergers. Last year, the company unsuccessfully attempted to merge with financially struggling Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

The first release under the home entertainment deal will be the Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy "The Switch," a box office dud released by Disney for Miramax in August. Lionsgate and Studiocanal will put the movie on DVD and digital platforms on March 15. [Updated at 8:29 a.m.: In April, when the Weinstein Co. released "Scream 4" in theaters, Lionsgate will re-release the first three movies in the horror-comedy franchise, which are owned by Miramax.]

Disney has been managing the Miramax home entertainment library on an interim basis since selling the unit.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in 1998's "Shakespeare in Love." Credit: Laurie Sparham / Miramax Films.