Miramax is back in action

Any movie buff can tell you that Miramax was the dominant player in the indie film heyday of the 1990s. The company was known for its critic-approved movies that also performed well at the box office — in its glory days Miramax released noteworthy titles such as Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Good Will Hunting, and Chocolat

With the successful release of movies such as The Dark Knight and Transformers, indie films later fell out of favor, replaced in the cultural zeitgeist by big budget blockbusters with a wider appeal. Miramax’s last major hit was 2007’s No Country for Old Men, and little was heard from the label in the latter part of that decade. Disney eventually sold Miramax in 2010.

The good news is Miramax is now back in action under new ownership (a consortium of investors including construction magnate Ron Tutor) and a new CEO (former News Corp. exec Mike Lang), both of which came on the scene in late 2010. The company recently announced a string of deals to reinvent itself as an anytime, anywhere distributor.

In 2011 the company formed partnerships with Netflix and Hulu. Such deals resulted in the streaming of several hundred Miramax movies over Netflix and Hulu Plus, and 15 Miramax movies with commercials streaming through Hulu.com each month. The company is also partnering with Facebook to launch Miramax Experience, an app that will allow users to watch its movies through the social networking service, and is in talks with Google about distributing Miramax movies via Android, Google TV, and YouTube.  

These deals represent welcome activity from a beloved brand, and illustrate Miramax’s return to the forefront of innovation in the movie business. Earlier this month, Lang was a keynote speaker at MIPCOM, a TV and entertainment market held in Cannes, where he described the company’s strategy as “a bit more Silicon Valley than Hollywood.” Good for Miramax for recognizing the importance of harnessing new technology in order to distribute its valuable library.

As other movie studios scramble to get a hold of their digital strategies (see my colleague Linnea Kirgan’s recent Bizmology post on Universal’s VOD efforts), Miramax is proving it has its head in the game as far as distribution goes. Is it too much to hope that new content is also on the way? In late 2010 the company announced a pact with the Weinstein Co. to develop sequels to several Miramax movies, including Shakespeare in Love, Rounders, and Bad Santa. As for Miramax producing new original content with the same spark as Kill Bill, Jackie Brown, and Clerks? A movie fan can dream …

Amy Schein

Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.

Read more articles by Amy Schein.

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