January 23, 2008 / 12:02 AM / 10 years ago

Revitalized studios win Oscar spotlight

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two small studios recovering from corporate upheaval shone brightly in the Academy Award nominations on Tuesday.

Josh Brolin is shown in a scene from "No Country for Old Men" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters January 22, 2008. The film was nominated for best picture the 80th annual Academy Awards announced in Beverly Hills January 22, 2008. The Oscars will be presented February 24, 2008 in Hollywood, California. REUTERS/New Line Cinema/Handout

Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage joined forces on “No Country For Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood,” which led the field with eight Oscar nominations each.

Miramax also released “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” which picked up four nominations.

Paramount Vantage’s success was clouded a little by the disappointing showing for “Into the Wild,” an acclaimed drama that had to settle for two nominations.

Miramax also had one nomination with “Gone Baby Gone,” and Paramount Vantage with “The Kite Runner,” which was released under the Paramount Classics banner in partnership with DreamWorks. In all, Miramax led the field with 21 nominations, followed by Paramount Vantage with 19.

Miramax is a unit of Walt Disney Co. Paramount Vantage is part of Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures.

The divisions share similar histories, with new bosses taking the helm in 2005. Daniel Battsek, a veteran of Disney’s film operations in the U.K., stepped into the giant shoes of Miramax founders, Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The brothers revolutionized the independent movie business, but fell out with Disney, and left to form their own company.

Former talent agent John Lesher took over Paramount Pictures’ arthouse operation as part of a major restructuring initiated by Paramount Pictures chairman Brad Grey.

“There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” were among the first movies set up by the new regimes, with veteran Hollywood producer Scott Rudin brokering both deals.

Paramount Vantage released “There Will Be Blood,” the story of a misanthropic oilman, domestically, while Miramax is handling international responsibilities.

The roles are reversed for “No Country For Old Men,” a tale of a cool-headed killer who cuts a swath of destruction across small-town Texas.

Two other specialty divisions of major studios did well. Focus Features, a unit of General Electric Co’s Universal Pictures, scored eight nominations — seven for “Atonement” and one for “Eastern Promises.”

Fox Searchlight, a unit of News Corp’s 20th Century Fox, picked up seven — four for “Juno,” two for “The Savages” and one for “Once.”


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