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Paramount's Future and DreamWorks' Split

by Anne Thompson
October 5, 2008 8:49 AM
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DreamworksparsplitilloThe details of the Paramount/DreamWorks separation are getting nailed down. Paramount sent out a release Sunday that outlines terms of the split and ongoing joint projects. Clearly, the two groups will be partnering on many upcoming pictures. Here's Tatiana Siegel.

Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider will start out their new venture with some big co-financing deals with Paramount, which will have them as strong equity partners going forward. And contrary to the verbiage of last week, they will get to work on some of their fave projects. It is finally in Paramount's interest to allow DreamWorks to actively nurture some of these movies. After all, who could do it better?

To that end, DreamWorks production chief Adam Goodman will be moving over to Paramount to help supervise and liaison with DreamWorks on the 200 projects he knows better than anyone else, now that Paramount is taking over. His title has not been negotiated. He will be a production exec.

Also, Paramount has the right in the first year to co-finance any new DreamWorks projects that Spielberg and Snider are setting up. Assuming that Universal is the likely new distributor for DreamWorks 2.0, Paramount would cherry-pick certain projects on which to take domestic or international rights.

Here are some clips from the release:

As part of the separation agreement, the DreamWorks principals’ new company will take the lead on a number of development projects, which Paramount will have the option to co-finance and co-distribute. The majority of existing DreamWorks staff is expected to be offered positions at the new company.

All other projects currently in development will remain at Paramount with the opportunity for the Reliance-backed venture to co-finance several projects to which Mr. Spielberg is attached. In addition, Mr. Spielberg will continue to produce the Transformers franchise for Paramount and will also collaborate on three other Paramount films including, “When Worlds Collide.”

Spielberg and Snider will be taking charge of some 15 to 20 projects, while Paramount will take the lead on 15-20 projects. Next week the two sides will nail the details down on long list of pictures, first and foremost TinTin, which is supposed to be Spielberg's next movie. For now it looks like the DreamWorks team will get Dinner for Schmucks, The 39 Steps and Trial of the Chicago Seven. One would also assume that Lincoln will wind up in the Spielberg column.

Because so many projects are now on the front burner, DreamWorks will be able to take most of its current team to their new home.

The release goes on to give Brad Grey and Steven Spielberg--who are not on particularly friendly terms--to say nice things about each other in public:

Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures said, “We have had a great run with the DreamWorks team both creatively and financially. In particular, it has been a true honor working closely with a storyteller of Steven’s talent and stature. We are also grateful to David and Stacey for their exceptional leadership, creative talent and many contributions to our partnership over the past few years. We look forward to building on our joint successes as Paramount plans for the future.”

Mr. Spielberg added, "Brad is a friend and I am pleased to be able to continue to work with him and his team with whom we have shared many successes. We have enjoyed a productive creative and business collaboration with Brad, Paramount and Viacom over the past few years and are enthusiastic about extending the relationship for many years to come. And I have a very special thanks to David Geffen for his far reaching vision that has made it possible for me to steer this new course. His advice and wisdom have always been right on the money. He is a friend for life.”

Meanwhile, the LAT reports that a prominent Wall Street analyst thinks Viacom should ditch Paramount--while admitting that crusty exhibitor-at-heart Sumner Redstone will never let go of his trophy studio.

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

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More: News, Studios, Directors, Steven Spielberg

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