Steven Spielberg to leave Paramount

We reported a while back about how the relationship between Dreamworks and Paramount was hitting a rocky, desolate crossroads back in September. The surprising news was how civil and under-the-radar the major players were being about the whole ordeal. Now, it looks like the gloves are coming off, getting filled with bricks, and being put back on.

Steven Spielberg is openly seeking financial backing to the tune of $1 billion to make Dreamworks an essentially stand-alone company again. So, if you have any spare change or a cool billion burning a hole in your designer trousers, reach out and phone Spielberg’s home. So to speak.

The Great Bearded One also has his eye on Fox, Universal and Disney as possible bankrollers that could cough up a large enough offer to gain distribution rights to Dreamworks’ films.

This move is the big-business equivalent of you publicly telling your girlfriend that you’ll be looking for another person to date while still dating her. Spielberg might as well be using the Paramount faxing machine to send his resume to other companies. Rude, perhaps. Great business strategy, definitely.

Because Spielberg is a God among men in the industry, and because Dreamworks has been floating Paramount for several years now, he’s got the power to incite other studios to up the ante.

Dreamworks was founded by Spielberg alongside David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg back in 1994 and sold to Viacom (via Paramount) in 2006. It didn’t take long for the relationship to sour.

The old news is that everyone can get out of their contracts fairly cleanly. Of course, the question still to be answered is how the companies will divvy up current production contracts. Dreamworks does a ton of co-producing with Tristar and a few other entities, but they have a strong slate that’s either being co-produced by Paramount or exclusively distributed by them. Films like Shrek Goes Fourth, Shrek Five, and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

That is, if the split ends up happening. Which is most likely will.

Without the split, Spielberg and company don’t really own the movies they’re making. Since Dreamworks is a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures, Spielberg is a director and producer, but ultimately lays no ownership claims to the films. Not even to the copyrighted name “Dreamworks SKG.”

Details aside, the only newish news is that what we predicted would happen back in September is actually, finally happening. Or at least the wheels are in motion for it.

When the wheels end up coming off completely, FSR will be there to let you know. Stay tuned.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, which annoyingly refers to Paramount as “Par” fifteen times in one article.


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