DreamWorks and Paramount released a joint press release Sunday announcing that the two studios had finalised their separation, meaning Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider are officially leaving Paramount for DreamWorks 2.0 while David Geffen is departing to do…something else. (WHAT? Someone please tell us!)
The problem is, despite this attempt to formally end their tenure at Paramount, Spielberg and Snider can’t seem to let go. Today’s press release was designed to announce the “formalization of [DreamWorks and Paramount’s] transition agreements as Mr. Spielberg and Ms. Snider depart to form their previously announced new motion pictures company in partnership with Reliance BIG Entertainment.”
But nothing seems to be finalised, including who gets which movies:
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.”
Ah, that clears things up: DreamWorks gets “a number of development projects” while Paramount gets “all other” development projects. Nikki Finke provides a bit more information:
My sources tell me this about their status: some 15 to 20 of those projects will now have DreamWorks taking the lead in their development, with Paramount having an option to co-finance and co-distribute pic by pic. Then there are 15 to 20 projects where the situation is flipped so that Paramount will take the lead in their development, with DreamWorks having an option to co-finance and co-distribute pic by pic. The remainder of the new projects will stay at Paramount, and the new DreamWorks will have no continuing association with them. Regarding the Transformers franchise, Spielberg will be attached on a continuing and exclusive basis for Paramount on mutually agreeable terms.
There’s a lot of “let’s still be friends” language in the canned quotes from the DreamWorks and Paramount principals. And, suspiciously, these “separation terms” include the option for Paramount to co-finance or distribute upcoming DreamWorks titles. This seems a bit fishy to us and only further substantiates our impression that JP Morgan is having trouble raising the rest of DreamWorks dough. Why else would DreamWorks keep the option open of letting Paramount co-finance some of their films when they were so eager to leave?
Meanwhile, Nikki Finke reports that DreamWorks new distributor is likely to be revealed early this week (probably Universal). As with the Reliance deal, we’ll believe it when we see it, and we’ll be eager to see what the terms of that deal are.
For now, can someone please find out what David Geffen will be doing once he flies the Via-coop? Is he retiring? Will he just be sailing around the world on his yacht counting his money or does he have a new venture in the works?
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