Hollywood lost a once prominent movie-making company on January 28 when The Walt Disney Company shut down Miramax Films. Both the New York and Los Angeles offices were closed, and about 80 employees, including the division’s president, Daniel Battsek, were laid off.
While Miramax had a dwindling number of dedicated employees in recent years, even at the Disney’s management headquarters in Burbank, the label announced that it will be retained by Disney and still release about three movies per year.
The independent studio, which also acted as both producer and distributor for its own foreign films, was founded in 1979 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The brothers named the division after their parents, Max and Miriam, and drove the company to the top by relentlessly chasing after business partners and popular directors.
The Weinsteins sold Miramax to Disney in 1993 for $70 million. But their relationship with Disney deteriorated after the studio initiated lavish Oscar campaigns and its movie budgets began to escalate. The brothers eventually left Miramax in 2005 to start the independent film studio the Weinstein Company. After they left, Miramax underwent much tighter budget restrictions. These constraints were made evident in the amount of money the company brought in each year; in 2007, it made $135.3 million in domestic ticket sales. But by last year, that number fell to $65.8 million.
Miramax has released multiple award-winning and fan favorites, including ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Clerks,’ ‘Swingers’ and ‘Good Will Hunting.’ Some Oscar campaigns did work, as such films as ‘The English Patient,’ ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ ‘Chicago’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’ have won best picture Academy Awards.
Written by: Karen Benardello