Well, at least big Hollywood names can still get a line of credit in these trying times. The heads at DreamWorks SKG have firmed up a $1.2 billion deal to leave Viacom’s Paramount Pictures and form a new venture funded by Indian telecom and media conglomerate Reliance ADA Group, WSJ reports. The Mumbai-based company will inject $500 million and $700 million in debt through J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to produce about six films a year.
The deal creates a new powerhouse in Hollywood backed by Steven Spielberg, one of the entertainment industry’s most successful and biggest names, and marks Reliance’s most ambitious push into the United States thus far. While Spielberg and DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider are locked in with Paramount for a number of upcoming film projects including a Transformers sequel, it marks the coming end of an era at Viacom, which purchased Dreamworks just two years ago for $1.6 billion. It’s still unclear to what extent, but down the line the new venture will likely wrest some major content from Viacom’s film pipeline at a time when films are becoming more valuable across multiple platforms. Following the WSJ report, Paramount issued a statement congratulating the Dreamworks founders and waived provisions in their current arrangement to allow them to “join their new company without delay.” Spielberg and Snider will head the yet-to-be named venture while fellow Dreamworks co-founder David Geffen is expected to resign from Paramount and won’t be involved in the new company.
The Hollywood breakup has been expected for some time. Executives at Dreamworks and Paramount have clashed ever since the companies came together. Back in June, details surfaced about Reliance’s talks with Dreamworks’ heads, which seemed to jive closely with the Indian company’s public plan to create a name for itself in Hollywood and then build itself into a global media empire. The new venture will now have to select a distribution partner and Universal Pictures, where Spielberg began his career, is a heavy favorite, but no agreement has been reached. A deal with HBO is also expected to be announced soon.