Spielberg ends ties with Paramount, to form Ambani-backed company

October 6th, 2008 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS  

DreamWorksNew York, Oct 6 (IANS) DreamWorks top executives Steven Spielberg, David Gaffen and Stacey Snider have formally ended their ties with Paramount Pictures, clearing the way for a new film company backed by Anil Ambani.The new venture supported by Ambani’s Reliance Big and with debt financing raised by J.P. Morgan Securities, is expected to have at least $1.3 billion in resources and will make about six films a year.

Under the separation agreement announced Sunday, the new company, to be led by three-time Oscar winner Spielberg and Snider, will develop a number of projects now owned by Paramount, which would have an option to co-finance and co-distribute them.

DreamWorks counts “Transformers” and “Norbit” among its recent hits.

Spielberg has delivered “Jaws”, “E.T.”, “Jurassic Park”, and “Indiana Jones”, the highest grossing films of their time.

Snider, co-chairman and CEO of DreamWorks Studio, is set to hold the same position in the joint venture.

Before joining DreamWorks in 2006, Snider served as chairman of Universal Pictures where she was involved in “The Bourne”, “The Mummy”, and the “American Pie” series.

Geffen, who was a principal force in organising the new company, does not intend to become part of it, Paramount and DreamWorks said in a joint statement.

Spielberg and Geffen founded DreamWorks in 1994 with Jeffrey Katzenberg and sold it in 2006 for $1.6 billion to Viacom, Paramount’s parent company.

Since then Geffen and Spielberg have essentially operated as advisers without executive titles. Katzenberg runs DreamWorks Animation Studios, a publicly owned company that is separate from Paramount.

Spielberg, Geffen and Snider chose to leave after feuding for years with Paramount’s top executives over management authority and public credit for DreamWorks projects.

Under an arrangement with DreamWorks Animation Studios, the new company is expected to use the DreamWorks name. It has yet to finalise a distributor for its movies, though Universal Pictures is expected to fill that role.

A hundred or more of about 140 current Paramount-DreamWorks employees are expected to join the new operation, the New York Times reported Monday.

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