Weinsteins, Burkle continue exclusive talks with Disney

LOS ANGELES Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:01pm EDT

Film producer and Miramax Films co-founder Harvey Weinstein arrives with his with wife, Georgina Chapman, at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, March 7, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Film producer and Miramax Films co-founder Harvey Weinstein arrives with his with wife, Georgina Chapman, at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, March 7, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film moguls Bob and Harvey Weinstein and backer billionaire Ron Burkle continued talks for the purchase of Walt Disney Co's Miramax Films on Wednesday and a deal could be reached within days, said one source familiar with the discussions.

The source said a deal was expected within the next "24 to 48 hours."

Three other sources with knowledge of the Miramax talks said on Wednesday that an exclusive negotiating window between Disney and the team comprising the Weinsteins and financial backer Burkle's Yucaipa Cos had been extended beyond its original five day timeframe.

A dispute between Weinstein Co shareholder Mark Cuban and the Weinsteins also came to light on Wednesday, but a source familiar with the situation said Cuban's issues would not interfere with the proposed acquisition.

Cuban was not available for comment.

Earlier on Wednesday Bloomberg reported that Cuban may try to stop the Weinsteins from participating in a buyout of Miramax.

The Weinstein board issued a statement late on Wednesday.

"On behalf of the Weinstein Co and the board of directors I am going on record to say that we couldn't be more excited about the possibility of The Weinstein Co being in business with Ron Burkle, Fortress and the possibility of an acquisition of Miramax," said Richard Koenigsberg, board member of the Weinstein Co in a statement.

"While no Miramax deal has been completed, we give our full support to Bob and Harvey in their efforts on behalf of the Weinstein Company in relation to Miramax," he said.

The dispute with Cuban -- a minority shareholder in privately-held Weinstein Co, and part of group that invested about $1.2 billion in the company -- involves the 2009 release "The Road," said Weinstein Co spokeswoman Dani Weinstein.

Cuban had wanted the film, that was produced for $25 million and took in $23.9 million in worldwide ticket sales, to have wider distribution, she said.

Koenigsberg in his statement said Cuban is a shareholder and admired greatly, but that the dispute was limited to the amount of theaters the movie played.

"He is not on the board and it is our understanding that the issue he spoke to the press about is regarding the distribution of a movie he produced called 'The Road'," Koenigsberg said.

Disney initially sought more than $700 million for the shuttered studio with a library of more than 600 films, including "Pulp Fiction," and the exclusive negotiating window has other competing bidders on the sidelines.

"They haven't come to terms yet but they are still in this exclusive period," said film executive David Bergstein who is advising construction magnate Ron Tutor and other investors on a competing $650 million bid.

Financiers Alec and Tom Gores are behind another offer and are being advised by their brother, Sam Gores, who heads the Paradigm Talent Agency. The Gores offered $550 million, but a source said this week that they increased that bid, although it was unclear by how much.

Bob and Harvey Weinstein founded Miramax in 1979 and sold it to Disney in 1993 for $80 million. The pair continued to run the company until they left in 2005 to form The Weinstein Co.

Sounces have said that if the sale is completed, Yucaipa would own Miramax and the Weinsteins would manage it.

(Reporting by Sue Zeidler; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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