LOS ANGELES — Billionaire Ron Burkle and potential partners the Weinstein brothers denied reports Friday that talks to buy The Walt Disney Co.'s Miramax Films division were on the rocks.
The bidders sent out a statement saying, "The Weinstein brothers, The Weinstein Co. and Ron Burkle are all working towards a deal to purchase and operate Miramax."
Discussions were being slowed, mainly because of problems securing the Weinstein brothers as the company's managers, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
The Los Angeles Times reported earlier the talks had fallen apart.
Disney had been negotiating exclusively since mid-April with Burkle, a 57-year-old supermarket mogul, to sell him the niche movie label for about $625 million. Hopes were high that a deal could be announced during the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France.
With the closing ceremony at Cannes just two days away, it looks increasingly likely that Harvey and Bob Weinstein would be left without a deal to announce at the event.
Sticky relations between the Weinsteins and the movie studio they founded in 2005, The Weinstein Co., also were holding up the deal, the people familiar with the matter said.
Unresolved issues include how much time the Weinsteins will devote to Miramax, which they founded and then sold to Disney for $80 million in 1993, and how The Weinstein Co. would benefit from the arrangement.
Cracks in the relationship appeared last month, when Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a Weinstein Co. investor, told Bloomberg News he had an issue with the studio amid widely reported talks of the Weinsteins' involvement in a Miramax deal.
The Weinstein Co. board member Richard Koenigsberg quickly responded, saying Cuban's concerns had to do with the failure of "The Road" and its limited distribution in theaters. Koenigsberg offered the board's full support to the brothers' involvement in the deal to buy Miramax.
Other investors in The Weinstein Co. might share similar concerns about their principals focusing their attention elsewhere.
A Disney spokesman declined to comment.
The Weinsteins founded Miramax, naming it after their parents, Miriam and Max, in 1979. They managed it under Disney ownership following its sale in 1993 but left following a public spat over Michael Moore's 2004 documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," which Disney refused to distribute.
Miramax's Oscar-laden film library is full of prestigious films such as "My Left Foot" (1989), "Pulp Fiction" (1994) and "Good Will Hunting" (1997), and still makes money on home video and pay TV.
Included in the deal for Miramax are potentially five movies that are finished but haven't been released, including "The Switch," a comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman.
Disney has been looking to sell the label because it no longer resonated with its other family-centric studio units such as Pixar and Marvel amid a studio overhaul.