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Capitol sounds out Miramax.

HOLLYWOOD Capitol Records and Miramax Films are trying to build a better musical mousetrap.

Because a soundtrack to a film is sometimes an afterthought, discs are often filled with inexpensive second choices rather than top-flight artists who could have been lured to the project had there been sufficient lead time.

In an effort to get a jump on landing A-list talent and to have sufficient advance time to place in the film artists whose music truly advances the story, Capitol Records has pacted with Miramax Films in a groundbreaking three-year joint venture to co-finance the development of soundtracks and other albums.

The deal is a coup for Capitol, which bested offers from Warner Music and Sony, and a blow to the Walt Disney Co., which owns the potent production company, but whose music operation is foundering.

The pact, announced Oct. 21, signals Capitol's commitment to the soundtrack business, a lucrative corner of the industry where success is dependent upon finding the right film in a sea of productions and marrying the proper music with it.

The last is a highly competitive, and at times daunting task, which explains why some soundtrack pacts are last-minute, one-off deals that may not even be released on a record label owned by a studio's conglom parent.

The Miramax/Dimension Films pact is a coup for Capitol because it affords the label a first shot at pics from a studio whose name carries instant cachet within the music and film industries, as well as with filmgoers.

"We believe Miramax is one of the most daring and progressive film companies in the business," Gary Gersh, Capitol Records prexy/CEO, tells Variety. "And the deal gives our artists the potential to be involved in interesting and high-quality films."

The timing of the pact is propitious for Capitol, coming as Disney is moving to capitalize on Miramax's name-brand cachet by developing ancillary businesses such as direct-to-video pics, books and satellite channels - all of which could aid the release and promotion of albums.

Under the terms of the deal, Capitol will bow eight to 12 soundtracks, with the first project to be "Scream 2," the follow-up to the 1996 film "Scream."

The music rights to the Wes Craven-helmed pic, which will be backed with a very ambitious studio marketing campaign, is itself a feather in Gersh's cap as it was the subject of intense interest from several top labels. The pic is set for a Dec. 12 bow.

Other soundtracks on the boards include Gus Van Sant's "Good Will Hunting" starring Robin Williams, boasting tracks from singer/songwriter and Capitol artist Jeb Loy Nichols; and "54," a film based on the 1970s Gotham nightspot Studio 54.

"We are so excited about doing this deal with Capitol and look forward to working with their talented and aggressive management, in particular Gary and Ken Berry (chairman/CEO of EMI Recorded Music, Capitol's parent)," says Bob Weinstein, who along with his brother Harvey runs Miramax.

Gersh, who along with Berry full-court-pressed the Weinsteins for the deal, noted another reason for the deal was that there aren't many studios making quality pics that lend themselves to smart soundtracks.

"This (pact) is the most efficient way to choose the type of projects that make the most sense for the label and our artists," Gersh says.

Capitol, which is currently riding high with the soundtrack to New Line Cinema's "Boogie Nights," has logged several successes under Gersh with such soundtrack discs as "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet" and "Clueless," among others.
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Title Annotation:Capitol Records's three-year joint venture deal with Miramax Films
Author:Sandler, Adam
Publication:Variety
Date:Oct 27, 1997
Words:585
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