By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 2, 2009 at 8:19AM
With the departure of Disney studio chief Dick Cook, things were not looking up for Miramax Films, yet another studio specialty division trying to survive some weak boxoffice. (Current release The Boys Are Back, starring Clive Owen, is not taking off.) Disney is dealing with the issue for the moment by restructuring Miramax, consolidating marketing and distribution with the parent studio, and reducing the number of films that Miramax releases every year. (That's the exact opposite of my solution for what they should do.) Miramax will reduce its output to just three movies a year (including acquisitions), and cut its staff of 75 by some 50 positions, winding up with about 25. (At its peak under the Weinsteins in 2004, when the firm released some 30 films a year, the staff was at 500.) The company had already shrunk considerably since Battsek took over in September 2005, and now releases from six to eight films. UPDATE:
Historically, the most effective specialty units, like Fox Searchlight, Focus Features, the old Miramax and Sony Pictures Classics, have been autonomous, able to operate without too much studio intervention. Obviously they have to make their numbers and meet expectations, but the less interference, the better. Clipping Miramax's wings, reducing its output (just what the indie sector needs) and bringing them into the studio fold: not good. Big studios don't know how to do the heavy lifting on marketing and releasing specialty films. Another recipe for success: enlightened bosses who understand the vagaries of the specialty sector. What this reduces Miramax to, finally, is the library of 650 titles, created in most part by the Weinsteins.
The good news: cautious and experienced Miramax chief Daniel Battsek stays in charge at the division, for now. Disney's press release is on the jump:
Miramax Films will reduce the number of films it releases annually while consolidating certain of its operations within The Walt Disney Studios (TWDS), Alan Bergman, president, TWDS, announced today.
Daniel Battsek, president of Miramax Films, will continue to oversee all aspects of creative, development, production and business and legal affairs out of New York. TWDS will handle certain marketing, distribution, operations and administrative support functions from its Burbank headquarters.
“Disney has a first-rate marketing and distribution team operating globally,” Bergman said. “This restructuring maximizes operating efficiencies and provides significant cost savings while allowing Miramax to focus on its greatest strength; the creation of high-quality entertainment.”