Michael Williams-Jones, theveteran distribution executive who left United International Pictures (UIP) totake a self-imposed sabbatical, is back in the picture and has taken thepresident job at Miramax International.
Based out of the company'sLondon offices, Williams-Jones will oversee the marketing and distribution ofMiramax's films outside North America and will report to co-chairmen Bob andHarvey Weinstein and COO Rick Sands.
Meanwhile, MiramaxInternational's two executive vice presidents Jere Hausfater and Stuart Fordwill both remain within Miramax.
Hausfater will continue towork on theatrical film marketing and distribution and his role will beexpanded to include working in conjunction with Agnes Mentre, head of acquisitionsfor Miramax, on acquiring theatrical product for sale and distributionworldwide.
Hausfater will also now beresponsible for overseeing the company's distribution of TV and homeentertainment product to international.
Ford will continue to overseethe company's international sales activities from New York; he will workclosely with Williams-Jones on international theatrical distributioninitiatives.
Miramax has shifted itsinternational distribution strategies in the last two years, moving from a sales-basedfocus to a combination of sales to independents in between 30% to 40% of theworld and distribution agreements with its sister company Buena VistaInternational (BVI) in key markets such as Germany, Italy, Spain andAustralia/New Zealand. In France, it operates its own distribution outfit TFMin league with TF1.
On certain pictures, such asthis year's Starsky And Hutch,which was a co-venture between Miramax's Dimension Films and Warner Bros, BVItook all international rights as it will on the upcoming Miramax production ShallWe Dance' starring Jennifer Lopezand Richard Gere.
How Williams-Jones willinteract with BVI is as yet unclear, although it seems likely that he will workclosely with BVI's UK chief Daniel Battsek who has a strong track record ofreleasing Miramax pictures in the UK.
"AddingMichael and his broad knowledge and incredible track record within theinternational film business to the outstanding work that has already beenaccomplished by the team at Miramax is unbelievably good fortune for us," saidBob and Harvey Weinstein in a joint statement yesterday.
"Michaelis one of the pioneering greats of the international film industry and sincethe day he chose to step away from the business, we have been praying for himto come back. We have seen the benefits of distributing our own productinternationally and as we continue to increase our activities in this regard,Michael's presence will allow us to further ensure that we are maximizing thefinancial upside and rewards on all of our films outside of North America."
"Michael'sknowledge and perspective will surely be of great benefit to our internationalefforts," added Rick Sands. "As we come off of last year, which posted thehighest theatrical grosses in the company's history, Michael's expertise infilm marketing and distribution will continue to further the Miramax andDimension brands throughout the world."
"Inever really left the business as it has never stopped running hot in my veinsand I love movies just as much as I ever did," said Williams-Jones. "It's timeto come back and what better way to return then to join great innovators likeBob and Harvey, who with the help of Rick Sands, not only built a vibrantglobal business from scratch, but love movies just as much as I do."
Williams-Joneswas president and CEO of UIP in London for 15 years from 1981 to 1996, and priorto that he ran United Artists International in New York until it was acquiredby MGM.