Friday, January 29, 2010


For those of you not paying attention the world of independent film took another HUGE blow yesterday. After over 30 years of being in business Miramax Films was shut down. What many would argue was the most influential independent film studio of all time, the one that quite literally redefined the world of independent film and for all intents and purposes put it on the map is no more. While many things, both positive and negative can be said about Miramax, like all good funerals I’m choosing to focus on only the positives at the moment.

Founded in 1979 by Harvey and Bob Weinstein Miramax Films slowly, over the course of three decades completely changed the face of cinema. If it weren’t for Miramax films the average John Q. Public wouldn’t even know what an independent film is. Without Miramax Films the world of movies may have never been graced with the likes of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Billy Bob Thornton, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, David O. Russell, Baz Luhrman and too many others to name. If it weren’t for Miramax Films you might still have giant Oscar prestige pictures along the lines of BRAVEHEART and FORREST GUMP instead of the smaller, more intimate pictures that seem to dominate the nominations now a days.

One could literally write a book about all that Harvey and Bob’s little upstart company did to the world of cinema and since someone already kind of did (Peter Biskind’s brilliant Down and Dirty Pictures) I’m not going belabor the point. I just felt that it was more than appropriate to chime in and acknowledge the passing of one the most influential company’s in Hollywood over the last 30 years. While one could argue that Miramax Films, nor the Weinstein’s have been the quite the same since they parted ways several years ago it’s all but impossible not to recognize the unmistakable swath they carved through the history of cinema. To really drive that point home here are just SOME of the films that most likely would have never seen the light of day if weren’t for this trail blazing company.


I could keep going but I’m afraid to do so might only further sadden me at the loss of this giant of the film industry. I’m really not sure if any singular event in Hollywood at the moment better defines the current nightmare that is the independent film market and I intend on posting something in the very near future that really takes a closer look at the trend. For now however I want to mourn this industry’s loss while looking back and acknowledging all the greatness Miramax brought to us. It’s doubtful we’ll ever see another company like it.


Adam said...

I hadn't heard. This is such sad news. As you pointed out, Miramax was groundbreaking in so many different ways. Only recently, I watched part of an interview with Kevin Smith in which he made an excellent point. Miramax made it possible for serious-minded films for adult audiences to be made on a budget AND turn a profit. Even though Miramax hasn't been the same since the departure of the Brothers Weinstein, I can't help but feel that this is big loss for the American film industry.

Megan said...

Bob & harvey should never have sold.

I love Mirimax but it's kind of a love/hate thing. They used to buy their Oscars, and they bought & shelved SO many movies. But the movies they released were so influential...

See - love/hate.

Chris W said...

I agree with both comments. The love / hate thing very much goes for me. Miramax was very brutal with a lot of movies and there were a lot of movies they ensured would never see the light of day yet at the same time if the championed a film there was NO ONE you'd rather have on your side. That's why guys like Smith and Tarantino are so loyal to them. I agree that they also "bought" quite a few Oscars (*cough* SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE *cough*) but they als brought a lot of awareness to a lot of movies and people no on would have ever heard of otherwise. Adam, if you want to read a REALLY good book about Miramax and the world of independent film in general I cannot recommend DOWN AND DIRTY PICTURES enough. Megan bought it for me a few years ago for Christmas and if you consider yourself a movie fan it's darn near required reading. You should love it.

Adam said...

You know, eventually, I'm going to have to do an article on why Shakespeare In Love deserved to win.

Chris W said...

Honestly you really should write up something about SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and I'll write up a counter arguement for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN then we can maybe do one of the poll things and have people vote. Seriously I REALLY want to know why you think it should have won because you're the only person I've met that thinks so I genuinely want to hear your arguement for it. Like I said if you do I'll write up one for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Perhaps there should be a glove slap in here somewhere cuz I think a dual has just been called. :-)

Adam said...

I really ought to have phrased my initial statement better. Sorry.

I'm not completely sure which film should have won Best Picture that year. I'd kind of need to watch one or both of them again to get a better perspective. What I was getting at was that when I watched Shakespeare In Love again (subsequently falling in love with the film), suddenly I had a realization that it winning Best Picture hadn't been as out of the blue as I'd originally thought. It's a very strong film.

I think what makes it harder to compare the two is how very different they are in tone, intention, and execution.

I'll tell you what though. When I get around to watching them again, we'll see about that debate. Maybe we could even do a video.

"Consider your challenge . . . uh . . . partially accepted, sir!"

Chris W said...

I like it. I'll have to watch SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE again as well and then we can debate it. It'll be cool. Honestly I remember enjoying SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE but I didn't remember a single thing about it a month after I had seen it, meanwhile SAVING PRIVATE RYAN sticks with me to this day. It'll make for a fun arguement. I also need to look up and see what else was nominated that year because SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is literally the only thing that sticks out to me, not sure what that means about that year.