Miramax sale includes gnome cartoon, Aniston comedy

Mon Aug 2, 2010 1:38am EDT
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By Alex Ben Block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Elton John-produced cartoon "Gnomeo & Juliet" and three other completed pictures are included in Disney's sale of Miramax Films, and actor Rob Lowe is part of the buying group.

Those were among the details emerging in the wake of the agreement late Thursday to sell the Miramax name and film library for $660 million to a group led by construction executive Ronald Tutor and investment firm Colony Capital.

The buyers also include Jerome Swartz, an engineer who invented the laser scanner that allows for bar coding for products. Swartz founded, ran and sold Symbol Technologies and now is a college professor and philanthropist. Sources say he is putting in $50 million, while Tutor and Colony Capital's Tom Barrack each will invest $100 million in equity.

That will leave about $300 million that must be raised as debt. There is also cash held by Miramax and receivables due over the next five years that helps reduce the effective acquisition cost to about $600 million.

Lowe is involved through a media investment fund he recently created with Barrack. The actor, newly confirmed as a regular on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," said Friday that this is the first investment by the fund.

"The acquisition of a classic brand like Miramax is an exciting first step in my partnership with Tom Barrack and Colony Capital," he said. "This represents an exciting new chapter for me. And Tom and I could not have a better partner on our first deal together than Ron Tutor."

The investors do not include Hollywood producer James Robinson of Morgan Creek, apparently because of a last-minute dispute over how large his role would be in the new company. He could return later.

The movies in the deal will be distributed by Disney under an agreement to handle distribution in all media for the new company for at least a year. That is intended to give Miramax time to hire an executive team, staff up and create an infrastructure to handle its own distribution and production.   Continued...