Daniel Battsek was finallyconfirmed as the new president of Miramax Films today, ending speculation overone of the industry's most widely known open secrets of the year.

Battsek, the highlyrespected executive vice president and managing director of distribution andproduction at BVI UK, will be based in New York and reports directly to WaltDisney Studios chairman Dick Cook.

His immediate prioritieswill be to address executive recruitment and staffing levels and assemble thecompany's initial slate of pictures, while working with Harvey and BobWeinstein on their remaining titles before they relinquish their posts asMiramax co-chairmen on a non-exclusive basis on Sept 30.

Speaking to ScreenDaily,Battsek refused to be drawn on the issue of staffing levels, Miramax's annualbudget which is rumoured to be in the $300m range or how the company wouldoperate with producer Scott Rudin, who has a first-look deal at Disney and isexpected to play an active role at Miramax.

He said the new-look Miramaxwould aim to release six to eight productions and acquisitions each year,adding that executives would waste little time in scouring Toronto and otherfestivals for new purchases. "There's no specific pressure to acquire productfor immediate release," Battsek said.

Miramax has nine titles setfor release before the Weinsteins depart, including Terry Gilliam's TheBrothers Grimm, John Madden's Proof, and Lasse Hallstrom's An Unfinished Life.

Battsek will collaboratewith The Weinstein Company on Breaking And Entering, Derailed, The Matador and MrsHenderson (aka Mrs HendersonPresents). "I've had a longrelationship with Bob and Harvey and I'm very confident it will be a veryfruitful collaboration," he said of the Weinsteins.

For their part the brotherswill focus on completing projects currently in production and overseeing themarketing and distribution of Miramax and Dimension films scheduled forrelease.

"We've enjoyed working with Daniel Battsek in the past and think he's a great executive. We wish him much success at the company and look forward to our future collaborations," said Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

As of Oct 1, 2005, Battsekwill take over all operations for Miramax, which include creative, acquisitions,production, distribution, as well as marketing and publicity.

Among projects already inthe pipeline for Miramax are: Ben Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, a Dennis Lehane adaptation about the search by twoBoston detectives for a missing child; Julian Jarrold's comedy Kinky Boots; Scott Marshall's bar mitzvah comedy Lucky 13; and Lasse Hallstrom's publishing scandal drama Hoaxwhich is produced by Stratus Film Co and will star Richard Gere.

"I'm focusing on puttingtogether a great team of people," Battsek said. "The idea is to look and createand acquire and distribute high quality product that the company can be proudof. It's hard to be specific on anything beyond that at this time.

"The company's profile willbe defined by the product, but it's hard to say what that product will be inthe future."

He said he was lookingforward to the creative challenges of the role and thanked Cook, BVI presidentMark Zoradi and other studio topbrass for their support.

"Daniel is a remarkableleader as proven by his dynamic and award-winning executive team," Cook said ina statement. "Their unprecedented success throughout the UK can be attributedto Daniel's savvy business sense, combined with his inspired enthusiasm, teamspirit and great taste in material.

"His long rich history withThe Walt Disney Studios where he has been involved in distribution, marketing,acquisition and production gives him a keen understanding of our goals as wefurther build upon the prestigious heritage of the Miramax name."

Under Battsek's stewardship,BVI UK rose from strength to strength and topped the distributor market sharechart for the first time in its history in 2003.

Allied to his work inbuilding up the UK Comedy Label into a leading British production entity, Battsekforged strong relationships with British filmmakers like Stephen Frears, NigelCole, John Madden, Christopher Nolan, and Anthony Minghella.

He started out at The HoytsFilm Corporation in Sydney, Australia, and moved on to become managing directorof Palace Pictures before arriving at Disney in 1991 to set up a UK company aspart of Buena Vista International's worldwide distribution network.

He officially joined theWalt Disney Studios a year later and rose through the ranks from vice presidentand managing director to his most recent post.

His acquisition creditsinclude Shine, Central Stationand The Ice Storm, whileproduction credits through BVI UK Comedy Label include Calendar Girls, HighHeels And Low Lives, and theupcoming Kinky Boots.

A replacement for Battsek atBVI UK will be announced shortly.