Two sets of brothers are vying for Disney's Miramax library and it looks like the $550-million cash-offer from billionaire Tom and Alec Gores (advised by their Paradigm Agency chief brother Sam) boasts the advantage over the $600-million bid from Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who only look liquid relative to financially-beleaguered third bidder David Bergstein (described by one attorney as the "Enron of the entertainment world"), whose $700-million offer has to be a deluded fantasy, given the fact that a long line of creditors have taken him to bankruptcy court, which actually appointed a trustee for Bergstein's assets.
The Gores are moving forward with a long-term plan to start their own studio, reports New York Vulture:
And insiders familiar with the bid say that the Gores are going in with a far bigger goal: They’re simultaneously bidding on the distribution company Overture Films, as well as the home-entertainment distributor Anchor Bay Entertainment, both owned by Liberty/Starz Media. If they land all three, they’ll find themselves with a fully self-sustainable entertainment enterprise.
In recent months, Liberty Media's John Malone and new Starz CEO Chris Albrecht decided to sell the Starz Media subsidiary (including three-year-old Overture Films and video division Anchor Bay Entertainment) and froze production funding. Overture CEO Chris McGurk has been telling industry insiders and concerned filmmakers that he and COO Danny Rosett were assembling financing for their own breakaway entertainment company. They have been talking to friendly investors, including the Gores brothers. A cash-rich Gores offer would be tough for Malone to resist.
UPDATE: Overture has three movies still to come this year: John Curran's Stone, starring Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton, which has been submitted to Cannes and could come out as an arty summer counter-programmer, plus fall openers Jack Goes Boating (Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut did not light any fires at Sundance) and the horror remake Let Me In. If Overture were to get a reboot, they could acquire more pictures to get up and running.
I feel for the Weinsteins, who are the ideal suitors for the library that they built and sold to Disney (now 700 titles, rich with A-list films such as Pulp Fiction and Chicago), only to leave Miramax behind five years ago in a bid for independence. They tried to take the company name (from their parents, Miriam and Max) with them in 2005, but Disney wouldn't let them. Now their grandiose empire-building has left them with a smaller, leaner Weinstein Co., not as magnificent as they once dreamed, but still alive and kicking--with or without their old library.
[Photo of Bob and Harvey Weinstein courtesy of Getty Images.]