Harvey and Bob Weinstein, founders of the Miramax Film Corp., today made several important announcements with regard to the continuing development of The Weinstein Company, the interim name of their newly-formed multi-media company.
The Weinstein Company has entered into an agreement with affiliates of Goldman, Sachs & Co. who have agreed to provide The Weinstein Company with an equity investment and a debt financing commitment. Specific terms of the transactions were not disclosed. The two firms will work closely together over the coming months to officially launch The Weinstein Company in October 2005.
"We are thrilled with this important relationship that provides us with the resources to produce and market the exciting slate of films that we have planned," said Bob and Harvey Weinstein. "We look forward to getting to work."
The Weinsteins added "We could not have asked for a better partner in this endeavor than Goldman Sachs. The Weinstein Company has benefited enormously from the invaluable counsel of our friends at Goldman."
Goldman Sachs, through a spokesperson, stated "we are delighted to be teaming up with the Weinsteins in connection with this venture. We look forward to a long and successful relationship together."
The Weinsteins also announced today that The Weinstein Company has acquired North American distribution rights to three films: Decameron, Last Legion, and Young Hannibal, which were all produced by Dino de Laurentiis, recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' highest honor: the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, Martha de Laurentiis and Tarak Ben Ammar. Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta put together financing for all three films, which combined have an overall budget of $185 million.
Decameron, directed by David Leland, stars Hayden Christensen (Star Wars) and Mischa Barton ("The OC") in a tale of romance, passion and adventure amongst Italian nobles during the time of the Florentine Plague.
Last Legion, directed by Doug Lefler, stars Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley and will start production in August. It's the epic tale of a warrior named Aurelius who must protect the young Caesar when ancient Rome falls to the Goths. "Young Hannibal," directed by Peter Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring), is the prequel to the Hannibal Lecter series and tells the story of the formative years of Hannibal Lecter, revealing the origins of the now legendary character.
Young Hannibal is based on the upcoming book "Behind the Mask" by Thomas Harris, which will be published this fall by Random House.
Tarak Ben Ammar is expected to join the board of directors of The Weinstein Company. In addition to his 30 year long career as a producer, Mr. Ben Ammar has been associated with some key media and finance players. He has accumulated relationships in the media services industry and a partnership with TF1 and television channels in Italy and France. He has also been advising Prince Al Waleed, Silvio Berlusconi, Rupert Murdoch, and Vincent Bollore. He is a member of the board of directors of one of the largest Italian banks, Mediobanca.
These announcements come following a prolific week for The Weinstein Company at the Cannes Film Festival, including the premiere of the first Weinstein Company film, Wolf Creek, and the announcements of their formal relationship with Rainbow Media; the partnerships with IDG New Media Fund on the acquisition of "The Promise" and with Kanbar Entertainment on the acquisition of Hoodwinked!; as well as the acquisitions of Outlander, Stormbreaker, Transamerica and Nomad.
"Tarak Ben Ammar has been a friend for over 15 years," said Harvey and Bob Weinstein. "He's been a great advisor, and is one of the most powerful voices in media in Europe. We are delighted to be in business with him and Quinta."
"I am excited to provide a strategic European link to this new venture, initiated by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who have evidenced an impressive and unparalleled track record" said Ben Ammar.
"Dino de Laurentiis is nothing short of spectacular. We published his authorized biography and he is a personal hero to both of us," said Harvey and Bob Weinstein. "We don't see this as a business deal, we see this as an honor."
"We are proud to be part of this exciting new adventure. Harvey and Bob Weinstein are the best because they are filmmakers like me and I am happy that they are releasing my three productions," said Dino de Laurentiis.
On March 29, the Weinsteins, Miramax and The Walt Disney Company announced that they had reached a mutual agreement concluding the Weinsteins' employment contract with Disney. Since the announcement of their separation from Disney and Miramax, the brothers have been working actively on the production, development and acquisition of projects for The Weinstein Company. They will remain co-chairs of Miramax on a non-exclusive basis through September 30, 2005.