An Open Letter To Mike Lang At Miramax: Ten Films You Need To Let The Criterion Collection Handle

Earlier today, the Associated Press ran a story in which they discuss how the new chief executive of Miramax Films, Mike Lang, is looking to “boost sales” on their 700 + film catalog. Well as soon as I read that, I knew that I needed to get something up on our site, for Mr. Lang.

From the AP story:


The new chief executive of Miramax Films said Thursday that he’ll focus primarily on boosting sales of the 700-movie library of Oscar winners and other classics while looking for partners to make new films.

Among Lang’s top priorities are partnering with distributors to sell DVDs and offer Miramax movies, such as “The English Patient,” online. He’s also looking to license the films to TV channels at home and abroad.

Among his first priorities: releasing “Pulp Fiction” on Blu-ray and finding a partner to distribute three films that have not yet been released theatrically: “The Debt,” “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and “Last Night.”


So, Mr. Lang, you want to start licensing out your catalog to distributors? I hope I’m not the first to mention the fact that the Criterion Collection has been producing some of the finest DVDs and now Blu-rays, that cinephiles around the world drool over each and every new release Tuesday, and I think you need to head down to their New York offices, and talk licensing with them.

Why should you go with Criterion for these titles? Because in this current “everything must stream” climate, Criterion has held onto the belief that quality counts. That physical media, while waning in mass consumption, still has a loyal base that will spend money every month on discs that matter. When Criterion puts in the time and effort on a film’s transfer and supplements, the consumer responds. I think that as we move towards the extreme end of the spectrum, where quality is sacrificed for convenience (streaming), we need to continue supporting those on the other end of the spectrum, where you’re paying for quality, over convenience.

I went through the list of films from Miramax’s history, and picked out ten titles that I would love to see get the Criterion treatment. Some have already seen a Criterion logo grace their cover during the days of laserdisc, and need to return to the Collection. Some are films that have DVDs available, but no Blu-rays. Some are films that have never seen a DVD release, and would fit perfectly alongside the rest of the “important classic and contemporary films” that make up the Criterion Collection. I’m not entirely sure that you still hold the rights to all of these films below, but this is mostly a list to get you thinking. To kick off the brainstorming session.

If you’d like to hear a brief discussion on which Miramax titles we want in the Collection, I’d direct you to our past episode in which we discuss Monsoon Wedding with Moises Chiullan. We begin our news discussion by talking about Miramax.

(I apologize if the formatting of the trailers looks weird below. Hopefully if your browser window is wide enough, it should look correct.)


10. Malena

Giuseppe Tornatore


9. Amelie

Jean-Pierre Jeunet


8. Mimic

Guillermo Del Toro

I know that Guillermo Del Toro has a directors cut that’s just waiting to see the light of day. While I really want to see the Devil’s Backbone in the Collection next from Del Toro, I think this could be a really fun release.


7. A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies and My Voyage To Italy

Martin Scorsese 

This would make a great box set!


6. Through The Olive Trees

Abbas Kiarostami

We haven’t seen a DVD release for this film in the States yet.


5. The Thief And The Cobbler

Richard Williams

Think of the potential supplements on a release like this! Also, please allow Williams to complete an official version of his vision.


4. Il Postino

Michael Radford


3. Princess Mononoke

Hayao Miyazaki

Disney might not let this out of their clutches, but if they’re not going to update the home video release anytime soon, I’d say that Criterion deserves a shot!


2. Trainspotting

Danny Boyle


1. Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino


Some runners up:

The Thin Blue Line. I couldn’t tell whether Miramax or MGM held the rights to this one, but I wanted to float the idea.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape. I know this one already has a Blu-ray release, but Criterion needs this in the Collection.

Naqoyqatsi. I’ve read rumors that Criterion is trying to get Koyannisqatsi and Powaqqatsi in the Collection, and it would only make sense to have the complete trilogy as a box set.

Clerks. I know this has has multiple DVD releases, as well as a recent Blu-ray.

Full Frontal. More Soderbergh in the Collection!

Infernal Affairs.

Hopefully, some of this is already in the works, and I’m just unaware of the back door dealings. If not, I hope that I’ve achieved some small level of inception, and planted an idea that will grow into a reality.

Sincerely, 

Ryan Gallagher

Readers, which Miramax titles would you like to see brought into the Criterion Collection? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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21 Comments

  • Here’s my 10:

    The Grifters
    The Crying Game
    Bullets Over Broadway
    Exotica
    Through the Olive Trees
    Everyone Says I Love You
    Flirting with Disaster
    Velvet Goldmine
    Malena
    Infernal Affairs

  • Nice list there, Ryan, and a well-written open letter. I expect some results now – Miramax are you listening?!?!Some films that I think would fit the “important classic and contemporary films” criteria, not yet mentioned:My Left FootReservoir DogsKidsCity of GodThe PianoBasquiatHeroFor further consideration:The GriftersCry the Beloved CountryPret-a-Porter (it’s Altman, and what a cast!)Bob Roberts (nice companion piece to Tanner 88)The English Patient (I’d need to see it again with distance from its Oscar win)Holy Smoke

  • Bob Roberts is a GREAT idea, Dave. They could put together a really nice package for it, and I’d be curious to hear what a commentary from Robbins recorded in 2010 would sound like.

    Obviously, a Velvet Goldmine with all the bells and whistles is the dream of every manic pixie dream girl born after 1980, but I think for that to happen, Haynes and Miramax would have to kiss and make up first. I doubt that will ever go down.

    Some good choices on your list, Ryan, although I don’t think Criterion will ever get the Pulp Fiction rights, as that’s a choice that seems to be a consistently steady seller for Miramax.

    My out-of-left field pick would be a director’s cut of THE HAIRY BIRD, also known as STRIKE! or ALL I WANNA DO. It’s a film about a girls’ boarding school in the 1960s, and although I liked it quite a bit when I was a kid (mostly for my crush on Rachel Leigh Cook), reading about the development and making of it in Down and Dirty Pictures made me think there’s a much better version of it out there. Also along those lines, 54, which was far darker and ambigious than the “Neve Campbell wants to party all the time, party all the time” version that Miramax released. I wonder if Lang’s considering taking a mulligan on any of these from the Weinsten-era.

  • Miramax’s “There Will Be Blood” is my number one pick. It is a masterpiece and absolutely ripe for the Criterion treatment. Although the transfer is fine, the lean set of supplementary material offered on the Paramount blu-ray is very disappointing. Paramount need to do the right thing and hand over US distribution rights to a company which will do the release justice.

    I firmly believe that Paul Thomas Anderson has earned a spot in the collection (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood).

  • Miramax’s “There Will Be Blood” is my number one pick. It is a masterpiece and absolutely ripe for the Criterion treatment. Although the transfer is fine, the lean set of supplementary material offered on the Paramount blu-ray is very disappointing. Paramount need to do the right thing and hand over US distribution rights to a company which will do the release justice.

    I firmly believe that Paul Thomas Anderson has earned a spot in the collection (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood).

  • Atom Egoyan’s EXOTICA is essential cinema and one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen.
    It is currently out of print.

  • 1. Pulp Fiction
    2. Basquiat
    3. Jackie Brown
    4. The Hours
    5. Good Will Hunting
    6. Everyone Says I Love You
    7. Kids
    8. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
    9. Iris
    10. City Of God

    also – Mighty Aphrodite, Cry The Beloved Country, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, Garden State, Kill Bill

  • Just thought of another film in Miramax’s catalogue that deserves a better DVD — Ted Demme’s BEAUTIFUL GIRLS. Fantastic little movie with a very solid cast, including Timothy Hutton, Michael Rappaport, Matt Dillon, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman, Noah Emmerich, and Natalie Portman. Rosie O’Donnell before she went nuts. Excellent Middle America, blue-collar wintry vibe that I love. A great, authentic film that, at the very least, deserves a reissue.

  • After reading Mr. Lang’s interviews I do not have much faith in his ability to understand the cinephile. I expect he will put out some of Miramax’s films on blu ray that will get them the biggest return possible. Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting just to new a few. The rest will be hard pressed to make it to blu ray. I am curious to see if he in fact will discuss license fees with Criterion for some of the titles CC would be interested in. As they say…stay tuned.

  • “Disney might not let this out of their clutches”

    Disney has allowed Criterion to release their movies before, just to have the Criterion name, without the price. Royal Tenenbaums and Chasing Amy come to mind

  • Dead Man? Is it still Miramax property? Without a doubt, this should be the #1 film taken from them to go Criterion…

    Also, I forgot to list the Scorsese docs before. Those go without saying as far as I’m concerned.

  • I believe Thin Blue Line is MGM property and should be in play. I asked Mulvaney about this a few weeks ago and he said no dice. As far as documentaries go, it is an absolute must to be added to the Collection. Hopefully, we will eventually see this happen.

  • Great selection but you have completely ignored, a constantly spreading in its popularity, masterpiece called SAMSARA by Pan Nalin. Hold on ! before you say anything! just watch the movie first. It’s in my list of 10 movies to watch before you die.
    Sophie Besse Paris France

  • Can I add in ur list of “important classic and contemporary films”my all time favourite Pan Nalin’s SAMSARA?

    Sophie Besse
    Paris France

  • THE COOK THE THIEF HIS WIFE AND HIS LOVER. Why there isn’t any Peter Greenaway in the Criterion Collection just blows my mind. I’d like to see PROSPERO’S BOOKS, which has NEVER had a DVD release, included with this, as well as DROWNING BY NUMBERS (released by Miramax subsidiary Prestige).

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