Miramax offices close, Disney says brand continues

The offices of award-winning Miramax Films were closing on Friday, but the brand will continue to exist for at least two years.

The closures were in line with plans announced in October to slash Miramax's movie production to three per year, down from six to eight. Miramax owner Walt Disney Co. also announced then that Miramax president Daniel Battsek was leaving the company this month.

Miramax's operations are being folded into Disney's studio. Disney confirmed it has six Miramax films to be distributed through 2011, including "The Baster" and "The Debt" set for this fall. Disney did not elaborate on its plans beyond that.

Miramax, founded in 1979, had made such Oscar-winning films as "Pulp Fiction" (1994), "Good Will Hunting" (1997) and "No Country for Old Men" (2007) and helped launch the career of director Quentin Tarantino.

But Disney's own studio has been seeing its profits shrivel and is being reorganized under its new chairman, Rich Ross, 48, who took over in October.

Miramax was one of many niche labels shuttered or downsized in Hollywood recently, plagued by high costs and few commercial hits despite their occasional critical success.

About 70 jobs at Miramax were eliminated in New York and Los Angeles, and fewer than 10 people from the label will continue to work from Disney's headquarters in Burbank.

Miramax was founded by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who came up with the company's name by combining their parents' first names, Miriam and Max. Disney bought Miramax in 1993 for $80 million. The Weinsteins left the company in 2005 - after a highly public dispute with Disney over the Michael Moore documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."

They created The Weinstein Co., which released the war hit "Inglourious Basterds" in August.

In a statement, the Weinsteins said they'd like to buy the label back some day.

"There isn't much in the world that would make our 83-year-old mother happier," they said.

Disney, however, is set to distribute a wide variety of films from other subsidiaries or partners. Those include its Pixar subsidiary, and starting this year, Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG. It is also expected to begin developing movies based on Marvel comic book characters after acquiring Marvel Entertainment Inc. last month.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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