The End of Miramax

I'm going to throw out a few movie titles: Reservoir Dogs, The English Patient, Clerks, Pulp Fiction, My Left Foot, The Piano, Shakespeare In Love, Trainspotting, Good Will Hunting, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Swingers, and Chicago.

Now I'm going to toss you a few names you might recognize: Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Jon Favreau, Anna Paquin, Kevin Smith, Daniel Day-Lewis, Matt Damon, Ewan McGregor, Renee Zellweger, Holly Hunter, Ralph Fiennes and John Travolta.

What do these now-famous films, and all these now-famous names have in common? Their stars were all catapulted to worldly heights by studio Miramax Films.

Here are two more names you might recognize: Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Opening the studio in 1979, The Weinsteins led Miramax on a charge that turned small indie films into award-winning cash cows. They took unknown or seemingly washed-up talent and made them into some of today's most accomplished Hollywood stars. They also gave us films that have penetrated so deep into the cultural consciousness, they are all but part of our everyday vocabulary.

So, it is with a teary eye that I report that our ominous warnings have come to pass, and Miramax Films is now dead.

Bob and Harvey Weinstein

The studio closed doors to its NYC and LA offices Thursday, while eighty of its employees are waiting for the ax to fall. The six movies currently on Miramax's deck awaiting distribution (including The Tempest) face uncertain futures. And Disney, which now owns Miramax, is (of course) trying to downplay the failure. Said a Disney spokeswoman:

"Miramax will consoldiate its operations within Walt Disney Studios, and will be releasing a smaller number of films than in previous years. But it will continue to operate within the Walt Disney Studios,"

The studio was named after the parents of Bob and Harvey Weinstein and the brothers' reign of terror (and success) in Hollywood is nothing short of legendary. The daring gambles on films everyone thought would fail (looking at you, Mr. Tarantino); the strong-arm tactics to get their way (and their funding); and, perhaps most famous of all, the small wars waged to bring their films Oscar glory.

Harvey Weinstein with longtime friend Quentin Tarantino

In 1993 Miramax was acquired by Disney with the Weinsteins likely assuming they'd found deep pockets and wide distribution to back their epic ambitions. However, tensions and egos ultimately got the better of the situation and in 2005 the Weinsteins left Miramax to form their own company, appropriately titled The Weinstein Company. Miramax went on without its founders, still managing some awards glory here and there, with films like The Queen and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. But never again did the studio capture the indie-turned-hit glory of its days under the Weinsteins' watch.

Never one for silence, Harvey Weinstein had this to say about Miramax's demise:

"I'm feeling very nostalgic right now. I know the movies made on my and my brother Bob's watch will live on as well as the fantastic films made under the direction of Daniel Battsek. Miramax has some brilliant people working within the organization and I know they will go on to do great things in the industry."

The funny thing is: in the modern Hollywood model, everybody wants to recreate the Miramax magic. At the moment we have big studios like Paramount investing in "micro-budget" films (like the surprise hit, Paranormal Activity) - films made be fledgling directors for next to nothing, which studios hope will become box office success stories.

But what about the kind of critical acclaim and the cultural impact the films Miramax put out in its heyday had? Despite many failures (The Four Feathers, anyone?) Miramax has given us many other films that are burned into our collective memories forever (The Crying Game *shudder*). Which studio will rise to fill that void? Summit Entertainment, with its freaking Twilight Saga nonsense? Even the once-mighty Weinsteins have fallen on hard times since leaving their old studio - can the magic of Miramax ever be bottled and sold again?

Time will tell, but for now let's take a second to mourn the end of a great era for movie lovers everywhere.

R.I.P. Miramax films 1979 - 2010

Source: The Wrap

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