Oscars forecast Weinstein's exit

Warner Bros. outmatches Miramax Films, just as the CEO negotiates his exit from Disney.

Associated Press
Published March 1, 2005

NEW YORK - On the eve of Harvey Weinstein's probable exit, Miramax Films was KO'd by Warner Bros. at the Academy Awards - a bitter swan song for the man who built the trophy-grabbing studio.

Warner's Million Dollar Baby took home four Academy Awards, including best director for Clint Eastwood, best picture, best actress for Hilary Swank and best supporting actor for Morgan Freeman.

The awards will almost surely considerably increase the box office haul for Million Dollar Baby, which has not yet grossed even $70-million for parent company Time Warner Inc. since its December release.

Still, Miramax's The Aviator garnered a leading five Academy Awards in what could be the last Oscar night for Harvey and brother Bob as co-chief executive officers of the studio. The moguls are currently negotiating their departure with Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., which bought Miramax in 1993 for $80-million.

Perhaps symbolically, one of the primary schisms between Eisner and the Weinsteins has been their increasingly high-budget films, as opposed to the earlier, more traditionally independent fare.

Disney also had a hand in the two Oscars won by Pixar Animation Studios Inc.'s The Incredibles, which won best animated feature and best sound editing. Disney distributed the film. But even that win is a painful one for Disney, whose distribution deal with Pixar ends after next year's Cars.

Pixar's win (its second in the four years of a best animated category), came at the expense of Shrek 2 and Shark Tale, both made by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. All of the animated movies, however, have made more than any of the best picture nominees: $259-million for The Incredibles , $436-million for Shrek 2 and $160-million for Shark Tale.