BATTSEK NAMED MIRAMAX CHIEF.
BURBANK - The passing of the torch at Miramax Films was made official Monday with the appointment of Daniel Battsek as president of The Walt Disney Co.-owned movie division that was founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
Battsek, a top executive with Disney's Buena Vista International Organization, will work with the Weinsteins during a transitional period, with the brothers remaining co-chairmen on a nonexclusive basis until Sept. 30.
``I have enormous respect for everything that Miramax stands for, and I hope my life-long passion for the film business will be a great asset to this prestigious label,'' Battsek said in a statement.
Battsek will relocate from the U.K. to New York, where the Miramax headquarters will continue to operate independently from Disney's other film studio operations. He will report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook.
Cook called Battsek a ``remarkable leader'' and praised what he called his team spirit, savvy business sense and ``great taste in material.''
``His long rich history with The Walt Disney Studios where he has been involved in distribution, marketing, acquisition and production gives him a keen understanding of our goals as we further build upon the prestigious heritage of the Miramax name,'' Cook said.
Most recently executive vice president and managing director of distribution and production for BVI UK, Battsek will immediately focus on building a new executive team for Miramax as well as putting together a new slate of films.
He will work with the Weinsteins until taking over all operations for Miramax Films as of Oct. 1, including creative, acquisitions, production, distribution, marketing and publicity.
The Weinsteins, after six months of arduous negotiations, announced a friendly separation from Disney in March in a deal that paid them about $125 million. They have since formed The Weinstein Co., which will release its own full slate of films, some of them with Disney.
During the transition with Battsek, the Weinsteins will be working on completing projects currently in production and will oversee the marketing and distribution of Miramax and Dimension films already scheduled for release.
The Weinsteins had a 12-year business partnership with Disney that resulted in many popular and critically-acclaimed films, including Best Picture Oscar winners ``Chicago,'' ``Shakespeare in Love'' and ``The English Patient.''
But the high production costs of such films as ``Cold Mountain'' and ``Gangs of New York'' led to a rift between the filmmaking brothers and Disney. Disney had balked at the Weinsteins' desire for a bigger annual budget than the parent company was willing to spend.
(color) Daniel Battsek
Will work with founders