David Bergstein and his backer Ronald Tutor are closing in on a deal to buy Miramax this week, ending the Weinsteins’ hopes to reclaim the studio they founded
A deal could be finalized as soon as this Thursday, according to one knowledgeable individual.
If the deal does close, it will be the end of a six month effort by The Walt Disney Company to sell the prestigious arthouse division with a 700-film library, but which had shrunk to a shadow of its glory days.
Moreover, it would be a crushing disappointment to Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob, who had never quite given up hope that they could reclaim the studio named for their parents Miriam and Max.
While the individual close to the deal predicted an endgame, the deal for Miramax has proved very difficult and difficult to predict for all the parties involved.
Neither Disney nor Bergstein would comment for this story.
Others in Hollywood, including the labor unions, were expected to voice their opposition to the sale to Bergstein, who owes money to members of SAG and the Directors Guild because of lawsuits related to his other companies.
But Tutor and two other unidentified equity partners apparently have plenty of cash to finance the Miramax purchase.
The individual close to the talks said that Tutor and the two other equity partners were prepared to purchase the Miramax library with no significant debt financing.
Disney had originally sought $700 million for the library, which includes such contemporary classics as “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “My Left Foot.”
Bergstein, who is burdened by lawsuits and bankruptcies related to his other forays in the movie business, had negotiated for the consortium of investors, offering more than $650 million at one point.
It was not clear at what price the studio would sell Miramax.
The Weinsteins had come close to closing a purchase deal with Disney, but that foundered when billionaire Ron Burkle cut his offer to $565 million, because his financial analysis could not support the valuation sought by Disney.
Bergstein then stepped in five weeks ago and secured an exclusive negotiating window. Though that expired more than a week ago, Disney has continued negotiating in good faith in the hopes of seeing a deal finally conclude.
The purchase price for Miramax is believed to include about $250 million in accounts receivable.
Individuals familiar with Bergstein's thinking say he would run the studio on behalf of the buyers, with the intention of building a robust distribution company.