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Weinsteins ramp up new film, TV company

Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded venerable art house movie maker Miramax Films, said Monday they have raised $490 million in private equity to fund the start-up of a new media company.
/ Source: Reuters

Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded venerable art house movie maker Miramax Films, said Monday they have raised $490 million in private equity to fund the start-up of a new media company.

The Weinstein Co. has been operating for several months but kicked into a higher gear Oct. 1 after the brothers left Miramax and its corporate parent, Walt Disney Co., on Sept. 30.

In the 12 years Disney owned Miramax, the company backed Oscar winners like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Chicago” and enjoyed hits like “Spy Kids” at its Dimension Films label.

The Weinsteins hope to raise about $1 billion in equity and debt funding to finance their new film, television and Internet company, sources close to the pair have said.

The $490 million reported in private placement was higher than earlier expectations. The Weinstein Co. said it already had raised $230.5 million in equity and hoped to raise as much as $420 million in total, in a federal filing late last month.

The funding announced Monday includes the sum from the earlier filing, and the Weinsteins continue to negotiate with bankers for debt funding, one source said.

The Weinstein Co. declined to comment beyond Monday’s news announcement. Investment bankers Goldman Sachs & Co. and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison advised the company on the equity offering.

The company is filling its ranks with seasoned executives, many of whom worked with the brothers at Miramax. It is near signing a deal with Barbara Schneeweiss to develop TV shows, including one based on best-selling book series “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Schneeweiss had worked at Miramax as a TV executive.

The Weinstein TV slate also includes fashion model reality series “Project Runway” and a U.K. spinoff called “Project Catwalk.”

On the film front, the brothers’ first new release will be "Derailed,” a thriller starring Jennifer Aniston, which hits U.S. theaters Nov. 11.

In addition, they have Oscar hopes for Johnny Depp in “The Libertine,” Pierce Brosnan in “The Matador” and Felicity Huffman in “Transamerica,” which all reach theaters later this year.

The brothers formed Miramax 26 years ago and sold it to Disney in 1993. But in recent years, Harvey Weinstein and former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner clashed over issues that eventually led the Weinsteins to depart.