DreamWorks partners with Disney
The filmmaker’s DreamWorks Studios, in the market for a larger company to help support and distribute its films, worked out a deal Monday to partner with The Walt Disney Co. after an abrupt split with Universal Pictures late last week.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but this enables Spielberg and partner Stacey Snider to move ahead on a number of scripts awaiting the go-ahead. They made such films as Transformers, Disturbia and Tropic Thunder at their former home, Paramount Pictures. Spielberg recently spent about $27 million to buy back projects that were being developed there for a new incarnation of DreamWorks.
The arrangement does not include DreamWorks Animation, maker of the Shrek and Madagascar films, which broke off on its own as a separate company — and is a rival to Disney and its partner Pixar.
Disney officials said they would be releasing about six DreamWorks films a year, and the first one would likely be in 2010. DreamWorks officials hope to begin rolling on their first new live-action film this summer. The details of the first projects have not yet been revealed.
Spielberg had initially been enthusiastic about partnering with Universal, which made his early hits Jaws and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. But the worldwide economic woes tied up outside financing he and Snider aligned, and attempts to rework the deal failed.
Universal’s sudden announcement that it was finished with DreamWorks was a rare flash of hostility in Hollywood, where happy endings in business deals are often as forced as they are in the average romantic comedies, and even breakups occur amid smiling faces.
The troubled talks with Universal led DreamWorks to Disney, one of its original suitors.
“Disney is the birthplace of imagination,” Spielberg said in a statement, adding that the company appealed to DreamWorks because it has one of Hollywood’s best operations for reaching out to a worldwide audience.
The arrangement also benefits Disney, which has had trouble in recent years developing grown-up fare such as Sweet Home Alabama, Unbreakable and The Royal Tenenbaums.
Bob Iger, Disney president and CEO, praised DreamWorks’ “creative and commercial track record” and said Spielberg’s “artistic vision and commitment to quality filmmaking are legendary.”