Disney Closes Miramax

Walt Disney Co., the world’s biggest media company, closed its Miramax offices and made plans to distribute the six remaining pictures from the film studio founded by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

The moves were part of a restructuring announced in October, Burbank, California-based Disney said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The unit had offices in New York, London and Los Angeles. An estimated 80 people lost their jobs.

Miramax made its name taking art and foreign films and turning them into hits. It won four Oscars for best picture, including “Chicago,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “The English Patient.” The Weinsteins left in 2005. Their new studio has struggled and was in talks with potential partners last month, David Glasser, a company executive, said in a Dec. 31 interview.

“I know the movies made on my and my brother Bob’s watch will live on,” Harvey Weinstein, 57, said yesterday in an e- mailed statement.”

Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger has been restructuring Disney’s money-losing film operations since October when he named Rich Ross chairman, replacing Dick Cook. Ross said in October Miramax chief Daniel Battsek would leave in January and has consolidated live-action, animation and home-video. The company is shrinking film production to focus on family titles.

Miramax released five movies last year that took in a total of $39.6 million in U.S. box-office sales, according to Box Office Mojo, a film researcher based in Sherman Oaks, California. Eight films released in 2008 collected $66.2 million in U.S. ticket revenue.

Disney gained 3 cents to $29.35 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock advanced 42 percent in 2009.

The BusinessWeek has contributed to the report.

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