Miramax Shrinks at Disney

Arthouse division will reduce the number of films it releases while consolidating certain of its operations.

Last Updated: October 4, 2009 @ 10:55 PM

Miramax Films, the arthouse movie division of the Walt Disney Company, will reduce the number of films it releases annually while consolidating certain of its operations, Alan Bergman, president of the studios announced on Friday.

Daniel Battsek, president of Miramax Films, will continue to oversee all aspects of creative, development, production and business and legal affairs out of New York, the studio said.

Miramax released six movies last year. The studio did not specify how few movies it will now release.

Burbank will take over certain marketing, distribution, operations and administrative support functions from studio headquarters.

The movie further downsizes Disney’s commitment to niche arthouse films, as it refocuses on its core brand of family-oriented movies. And it comes on the backdrop of a severely challenging environment for independent film in general, as arthouse studios and divisions at the majors  have successively closed.

Miramax, founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein as an independent film studio, was bought by the media giant in the mid-1990s.

Disney parted ways with the tempestuous but talented brothers in 2005, and they subsequently created The Weinstein Company. Since then, Miramax has released a handful of movies annually, but has not had  breakout hits.

Last year Miramax released the Oscar-nominated "Doubt." This year, Miramax has released "Adventureland," "Cheri" and most recently "Extract." The Clive Owen drama "The Boys Are Back," is out in limited release, and has made $60,000 in 16 theaters.

“Disney has a first-rate marketing and distribution team operating globally,” Bergman said. “This restructuring maximizes operating efficiencies and provides significant cost savings while allowing Miramax to focus on its greatest strength; the creation of high-quality entertainment.”