Spielberg and Unversial, together at last

DreamWorks has struck a much-anticipated deal for theatrical distribution with Universal Pictures in a five-year agreement encompassing as many as six releases a year, this according to The Hollywood Reporter. The first project under the distribution deal is set to begin production by September ’09.

Just weeks ago Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks bolted Paramount, since DW reconstituted as a private, separate production company. With that exit, several projects that were under development at Paramount will revert back to DW, but a few DW/Paramount co-productions are still likely to occur over the next few years.

Terms of the deal call for DW to pay Universal an 8% distribution fee.

Disney and Fox also were eyed as possible distribution partners for the new DW over the past several weeks, but Spielberg has a long-standing relationship with Universal (E.T., Jaws), and the studio had been considered something of a prohibitive front-runner.

“Steven and I are so excited to reunite with such excellent partners and friends at Universal,” Snider told The Hollywood Reporter. “And we would never even be in this position were it not for David Geffen’s efforts.”

With the new distribution arrangement, the DW duo now will be part of a broader Uni family that also includes such players as Beverly Hills-based Imagine Entertainment, the U.K.’s Working Title and Uni’s own Focus Features.

It remains to be seen just how Universal Pictures co-toppers Marc Shmuger and David Linde ensure that all its production partners get adequate care and nurturing under the new arrangement.

DW is likely to boast a work force of just over 100 when fully reconstituted, down from 140 or so including television operations and other units not in the immediate plans for the new company.

“We’re ready to get started,” Snider said. “We’ll be phasing in the employees between now and January.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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