The movie business has always been a rat race. Which studios are making strides, and which are just limping along this year?

By EW Staff
July 10, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

1997 MARKET SHARE 6.7% // 1998 MARKET SHARE (TO DATE) 7.8%

THE STORY SO FAR Repeat after us: Miramax is not an indie. After a stellar year that featured the Oscar-bedecked Good Will Hunting (the company’s highest grosser ever at $138 million) and Scream 2 ($101 million), the brash and ballsy frères Weinstein have graduated from being the big fish in a small pond to swimming with (and scaring) the sharks. In the three years since Miramax was acquired by Disney, it has grabbed a studio-size market share with a more-than-studio-size slate of films (a staggering 38 this year); in fact, Miramax has lately been partnering up with majors like Paramount to finance those ”indie” films. In other words, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

STRENGTHS Harvey and Bob’s division of labor—Harvey shepherds the edgy/artsy fare, while Bob rakes in teen bucks with his genre label Dimension Films. And their ability to lure young talent—the next six months will boast Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Neve Campbell, and Edward Norton—is the envy of every other studio. Still, Miramax’s greatest strength is its crackerjack marketing team, which could sell Popsicles to Eskimos…

WEAKNESSES …most of the time. Yes, Miramax has a lot of hits, but it also releases a ton of films that aren’t. Sometimes it feels as if the company throws a heap of movies at the wall, sees what sticks, then leaves the stragglers to fend for themselves (Welcome to Sarajevo, anyone?) while acquiring other movies only to shelve them for months or years. Plus, Harvey still has that strong-arm rep, whether in personally casting Miramax films or getting scissor happy in the editing room.

CORPORATE CULTURE Woody Allen movies aren’t the only places crawling with neurotic New Yorkers. As the only Gotham-based major, Miramax can make life for its employees as frenetic and nerve rattling as the city itself. Put simply, the vibe is “It’s Harvey’s world, we just slave in it.”

THE BIG PICTURE Since the Disney deal, Miramax has had to get used to being just another cog in a corporate machine. Of course, on Oscar night, it’s the most important cog.

INDUSTRY TAKE Pretty simple: “If you love Harvey and Bob, you love working at Miramax,” says the former studio head. “If you hate them, you hate it.” Adds the producer: “There’s two guys there with guts. One who finds Scream, and one who knows how to find directors, own them, torture them, and get a good product out of them and market it.”

WHAT’S NEXT More of the now-familiar mix of highbrow fare and nutrition-free snacks for the hoi polloi. Upcoming standouts include Jamie Lee Curtis’ Halloween: H20, Mike Myers in 54, and Damon and Norton in the gambling drama Rounders; and expect an Il Postino-style Oscar push for the Italian import Life Is Beautiful. In the distance: a new Rambo installment and, you guessed it, Scream 3.

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