Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks have a new partner–India’s Reliance–which is investing $550 million in the company. This has prompted inquiring minds to wonder how Hollywood could possibly have been so stupid as to let the most commercially successful director and producer in history go. Hollywood’s whispered answer? Because he’s too expensive, and…he’s over the hill. NYT:
Late last month, DreamWorks, the boutique movie studio that Mr. Spielberg co-founded in 1994, let it be known that it had found a way to exit its unhappy three-year marriage with Paramount Pictures. Reliance ADA Group, a Mumbai conglomerate, was nearing a deal to give the dream workers $550 million to form a new movie company.
That Mr. Spielberg and his business partner David Geffen had found an investor wasn’t surprising. Mr. Spielberg is a superstar. DreamWorks had made it clear for months — via public comments and private grousing fed into the Hollywood grapevine — that they hated being part of Paramount and were going elsewhere as soon as it was contractually allowed.
But there was still an element of shock: Hollywood could not come up with a rich enough deal for Mr. Spielberg, the most bankable director in the business and a “national treasure”? His last movie alone, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” has sold $743 million in tickets and is still playing in theatres around the world…
The pending deal with Reliance underscores some realities about Mr. Spielberg — mainly that he has become so expensive that few public companies can afford him. Mr. Spielberg’s standard deal, on par with other blue-chip talent, is 20 per cent of a movie’s gross from the first ticket sold, although he agreed to a somewhat less aggressive paycheck on the latest “Indiana Jones” instalment to offset its high budget.
And there’s another whisper coming from Hollywood’s highest echelons. It’s a sensitive topic — and one that Mr. Spielberg’s associates find hugely insulting — but one that bears consideration: How long before the A-list director, at 61, is a little, well, Jurassic?
See Also: Dreamworks Close to Deal to Ditch Viacom
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