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Film News Roundup: ViacomCBS Closes $375 Million Deal for 49% of Miramax

Dave McNary

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In today’s film news roundup, Miramax’s owners have sold 49% to ViacomCBS, Imax hires a new investor relations officer and Magnolia is giving early on demand releases to a trio of titles.

DEAL CLOSES 

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ViacomCBS has closed its previously announced $375 million purchase of 49% of Miramax, giving the conglomerate access to nearly 800 titles including “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Good Will Hunting.”

BeIN Media Group and ViacomCBS announced the closing on Friday, four months after the deal was announced. BeIN retains a 51% stake in the company, which it acquired in 2016. Miramax’s current leadership team will continue in their existing roles. Bill Block has been CEO since 2017.

Miramax was founded in 1979 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein and sold to the Walt Disney Company in 1993 — by which time, it had transformed the independent film scene by producing such titles as “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “The Crying Game.” Miramax’s assets were acquired from Disney in 2010 by Filmyard Holdings, consisting of Colony Capital, Tutor-Saliba Corporation, and Qatar Investment Authority.

The companies also said that Paramount Pictures has entered into an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax’s film library; and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount Pictures to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax titles.

ViacNasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of beIN Media Group, said, “We are thrilled to partner with ViacomCBS and Paramount to explore further opportunities around Miramax’s iconic IP, and also at Group level; while substantially increasing the scale of our entertainment business. This deal further underlines beIN’s ambitions on the global stage – we are very proud to have established ourselves as one of the leading groups in sport, entertainment and media.”

IMAX HIRING 

Imax Corp. has hired Brett Harriss as senior vice president of investor relations to oversee  global investor relations strategy and serve as its lead with the investment community, reporting to CEO Richard Gelfond out of the company’s New York office.

“Brett brings a deep understanding of the media and entertainment industry, his extensive relationships with investors, and comprehensive financial analytic experience,” said Gelfond. “His leadership will be critical as we continue to tell our growth story and capitalize on the unique value of our model and global reach with investors.”

Harriss joins Imax from Mario Gabelli’s Gamco Investors, where he spent more than a decade covering the media and entertainment industry, including eight years covering Imax.

“I’ve always admired the unique position that Imax has built at the center of the entertainment ecosystem, and the value it creates throughout,” said Harriss. “I look forward to working with Rich and helping the Company build on its success —identifying new opportunities to help shape its growth initiatives and deliver enhanced returns on capital for investors.”

MAGNOLIA RELEASES 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Magnolia Home Entertainment has opted to give early on demand releases to the documentaries “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” and the crime drama “The Whistlers” starting Friday.

“Once Were Brothers” began in theatrical release on Feb. 21 and “The Whistlers” launched theatrically on Feb. 28. Magnolia is also giving the documentary “Slay the Dragon” an on demand release coinciding with its theatrical release, which had been set for Friday.

“Brothers” is executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The film showcases rare archival footage and interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and Taj Mahal. “The Whistlers” follows a Romanian Police Inspector as he embarks on a high-stakes heist on the Canary Islands.

“Slay the Dragon” centers on citizens groups opposing gerrymandering in the United States and is directed by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 27, 2019.

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