After 20 years, Miramax closed its doors yesterday, with parent company Disney deciding the time was finally right.
Seeing its first successes with Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, & Videotape in ‘89 and then that one movie where the Irish guy falls for the black girl with a schlong in’93, the film studio’s arguably biggest achievement came the following year with Quentin’s magnum opus, Pulp Fiction. Miramax’s lasting legacy, though, doesn’t merely lie in the greatness of some of its individual films. The studio was integral in the legitimization of indie films both as viable awards contenders — Sex… and Pulp Fiction were both awarded the Palm D’Or and The English Patient, Shakespeare In Love, Chicago, and No Country For Old Men all won the Best Picture Oscar—as well as box-office gold (Scream). The likes of Juno and The Hangover have Miramax to thank.
However, ever since ‘05, the Miramax name has died a slow death. The Weinstein brothers, hilariously caricatured by Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder, sold the company to Disney back in ’93. They retained their positions at the top and substantial creative control over the next 12 years, but continuing blow-ups with Disney CEO Michael Eisner ultimately made them walk away. They then founded The Weinstein Company, producing such hits as Clerks II and Scary Movie 4—franchise films from the duo’s Miramax days—but more notable failures, including Grindhouse, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, and now Nine. Meanwhile, with its creative masterminds gone, Miramax simply lost its essence.
It’s only fitting that the studio should die now. We’re in the midst of the era of the big-budget, effects-driven franchise film from which toys can be sold—or the movie can be sold from toys (fucking Candy Land?). Unfortunately, now is when Miramax and what it stood for are needed most.