Disney, Weinsteins may part ways

MUMBAI: A film partnership that lasted a decade and brought lots of Oscar awards may be coming to an end. Disney is said to be looking to end its current deal with Miramax Films founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

Disney must give the Weinsteins at least six months notice if it does not plan to renew its deal with the filmmaking brothers who are credited with revolutionizing the independent filmmaking world. Reports state that with the pact set to expire on 30 September 2005, a resolution must be reached by March at the latest.

Disney CEO Michael Eisner has categorically asserted that Miramax would remain with Disney even if the Weinsteins exited. Disney will also retain rights to the valuable Miramax library and to any films produced during the current agreement. If the Weinsteins do leave this would be the second blow for Disney following the end of the contract with animation house Pixar.

Miramax was bought by Disney in 1993 for $80 million. The Weinsteins are likely to seek financing to start a new motion picture venture. Trade publication Variety had reported that Disney was not interested in renewing the terms of the Weinstein's existing employment agreement. .

There was friction between the Weinstein's and Disney over Kill Bill. Eisner had felt that Miramax pushed the envelope too far with Quentin Tarantino's epic. Worse earlier this year Disney had blocked Miramax from distributing Michael Moore's Bush-bashing documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. As a result the Weinsteins to personally buy the film rights and seek an independent distributor. The film releases in India today 15 October.

Another report has suggested that the Weinsteins could partner with Paramount which is struggling for hits. Paramount had partnered with Miramax on The Hours which won Nicole Kidman an Oscar.

This year Miramax is pinning its Oscar hopes on Martin Scorcese's upcoming The Aviator in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

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