In Alison Perren’s Indie Inc. she dictates that the successes of Miramax have been cited largely as being resultant of the innovations that the company made in adapting to the presence of media giants such as Disney and Warner. The efforts of Miramax and its success ultimately outshined its previous goals in the sense that it became the very giant the Weinstens feared it would become, with its string of successes in franchises such as Jurassic Park and Spy Kids in the 1990s and early 2000s contributing towards its sudden rise. Though owned mainly by Disney, it introduced a completely radical style of self-promotion by making the styles of its films extremely edgy and controversial, as in the case of the critically acclaimed movie The Piano (1993). The company had found its niche as the king of independent films in the sense that the studio’s independently produced films that would give the film the competitive edge against other studios. Films such as Kids would exemplify the creative differences between Disney and the Weinstein brothers. The film had caused such tensions between the two and controversy as being the main focal point of the divergence of interests between Disney, which the Weinsteins painted as a vile studio empire, and the Miramax-Weinstein visionaries as the guerrillas against the creative tyranny of Disney. Perren encapsulates this relationship between the two forces by stating:

Within this framework, Disney was constructed as the villain and oppressor, while Miramax, and especially Harvey Weinstein, remained the scrappy, strong-willed supporter of true independence. The indie world might be changing, but Harvey would take every step to ensure that he remained at the center of it, championing visionary filmmakers at all costs. The big question mark was how much control he and his company really had over the films they chose. What topics were off-limits? (Perren, Amy, Indie Inc., 119)

It would seem that through key productions in the 1990s and early 2000s, Miramax would push the boundaries of “off-limits” topics to the edge, doing precisely what Disney was not doing. In fact it was only when Miramax achieved success and became more commercial, venturing from it’s usual formula, that it started to sharply decline. The niche market that Miramax had found itself in with the release of films such as 1989’s sex lies and videotape, and kids, would not be seen again after the success of films like Spy Kids, as Miramax sought to do the very thing its competition was doing by not following its original formula for success and removing itself from the niche market it had carved out. As was perhaps best summed up by Perren,


Miramax did support the growth of a number of different types of films and filmmakers during the 1980s and 1990s. But, in the end, the company was far less interested in supporting films that either tested the boundaries of sex and violence or pushed the margins politically or culturally. Rather, it was interested in suggesting sex and violence for the purposes of getting people into theaters. At its height, Miramax’s greatest innovations were in marketing, in skillfully using the press to call attention to its films, in finding films that appealed to certain underserved niches and, on occasion, helping these films cross over to become mainstream hits. To hold Miramax accountable for the decline or marginalization of independent film is to fail to understand the company— the kinds of filmmakers it hired the kinds of films it distributed. The anxieties about the degree to which corporate consolidation was pushing aside some voices might have been legitimate, but they should not have been directed toward Miramax. (Perren, Amy, Indie Inc., 125)

Miramax was its own success story and found its niche, but like cable television, music genres like hip-hop and rock, the innovations of Miramax had become so mainstream that the principles of independence and individualism of these films became diluted with the success of the company, giving other companies room to adapt to the changes onset by Miramax.


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