US film distributor and producer Miramax explores sale

US independent film motion picture distribution and production company Miramax, is exploring a sale, Bloomberg yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Miramax owners, Colony Capital and Qatar Holding are interviewing banks and a sale could fetch as much as $1 billion, the report said.

Miramax was acquired by a consortium including Qatar Holding, Colony Capital and American-Armenian businessman and investor Ron Tutor in 2010 from Walt Disney Co for $660 million. Tutor later sold his stake to Qatar Holding.

Founded in 1979 by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein and named by combining the first names of their parents Max and Miriam, Miramax was originally created to distribute independent films deemed commercially unfeasible by the major studios.

Its breakthrough came in the late 1980s and early 1990s through the distribution of films like Scandal, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction and Clerks.

The Weinstein brothers sold the company in 2005 to Walt Disney Co.

The Santa Monica, California-based company now has a library of more than 700 motion pictures, which have received 282 Academy Award/ nominations and 68 Oscars with 4 Best Picture awards, and includes such celebrated independent films as Pulp Fiction, No Country for Old Men and City Of God.

In late 2010, it was reported that Google was keen in buying the digital rights to the Miramax library to boost the premium content offerings on YouTube, in order to better compete with Hulu and Netflix.