Disney's pending sale of Miramax--once owned by the Weinsteins--to supermarket magnate Ron Burkle is far from closed, despite this positive take from The Wrap's Sharon Waxman, who writes that things are going so well that the exclusive negotiating window due to close Wednesday will be extended. I'm hearing that there's a lot still to be worked out before a deal can close. UPDATE: The LAT lays out some hurdles.
It bears repeating that the Weinsteins themselves are not buying anything. Burkle is trying to acquire the Miramax library and will own it, while The Weinstein Co. will distribute the films. It remains to be seen what happens to the unreleased titles. Disney will likely keep animated film Gnomeo and Juliet, starring Emily Blunt, but the fate of two Helen Mirren films is still to be determined. I hear that Disney wants to keep Julie Taymor's update of Shakespeare's The Tempest, starring Mirren as Prospera. There's no love lost between Taymor and Harvey Weinstein, who tangled over Frida. (Nobody messes with Taymor--as formidable as Weinstein is, I'd pick her to win any fight.)
At the Britweek party Tuesday night in Hancock Park, Mirren said that she had been told that the John Madden movie The Debt, co-starring Sam Worthington, would be released by Disney/Miramax by year's end. Other distribs have been circling the films, including The Switch, a turkey-baster comedy starring Jennifer Aniston.
At least one Mirren film has definite release date. Mirren's husband Taylor Hackford, currently president of the DGA, is relieved that after a year's hiatus, he managed to extricate Love Ranch from the miasma of Miramax bidder David Bergstein's finances and complete post-production. The movie will be released by Canadian distrib E1 Entertainment July 2.
Hackford is one of many directors with grown-up taste who find it tough to maneuver in today's Hollywood. The studios aren't interested in what I do, he said. And dealing with the likes of Bergstein was a nightmare. But Love Ranch is, finally, the film he wanted to make. Right now he's looking for money overseas, like everyone else. His best prospects are in China for Luo Yan's opium dealer Silas Hardoon period biopic The Merchant of Shanghai. Tim Sexton is rewriting.