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Retooled indies enter Cannes fray- Hollywood Reporter- 5/11/05


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  • Retooled indies enter Cannes fray- Hollywood Reporter- 5/11/05

    Full text here:

    CANNES -- As the North American buyers configure their BlackBerries for the annual film rites in Cannes, the playing field is undergoing some dramatic transformations.

    One buyer, United Artists, has retired from the fray altogether. Potentially taking up the slack, Miramax Films, always a dominant force along the Croisette, is dividing, amoebalike, into two entities: Disney's stripped-down Miramax Films and the new Weinstein company.


    But it's outside the screening rooms that the real drama could develop.

    While, stateside, a skeleton marketing and publicity crew at Disney/Miramax will release some 18 movies through Sept. 30, some Miramax staffers are working under their employment contracts, and others have signed contracts with a 20% raise to work for both Miramax and a new company temporarily dubbed the WeinsteinCo. for a finite transition period.

    Respected Buena Vista International U.K. executive vp Daniel Battsek is widely believed to have accepted a top job at the streamlined version of Miramax that will remain at Disney -- he met with Disney brass in New York at the time of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" premiere. According to Miramax sources, Disney has promised the Weinsteins not to announce his hire until July 1, at which time he will presumably decide which of the rapidly dwindling 250 remaining Miramax staffers will stay on board.

    Meanwhile, according to Miramax sources, Bob and Harvey Weinstein have a financial arrangement with Disney that funds their travel and acquisitions in Cannes, where international and domestic PR teams will promote festival films "Sin City" and "Wolf Creek," while the Weinsteins' acquisitions team, led by Agnes Mentre, shops for movies for both Miramax/Disney and the new Weinstein company. (Mentre is expected to cast her lot with the new venture.)

    Miramax sales vet Jere Hausfater will be selling foreign rights to such titles as "Wolf Creek" and Kevin Smith's "The Passion of the Clerks" for the Weinsteins, as well as two Robert Rodriguez-produced Spanish titles for Miramax/Disney. At the Hotel du Cap, the Weinsteins will hold court for foreign financiers and investors like Quinta Films' Tarak Ben Ammar, who is expected to play a key role in their new company.

    It is unclear exactly how Disney and the Weinsteins will split their Cannes bills. But Harvey Weinstein's profile should be as high as ever as he and Sharon Stone host the annual Moulin de Mougins AMFAR AIDS benefit towards the fest's end.
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