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Top 12 Film Industry Stories of 2008:
#4: The Dream(Works) Is Over. Again.

By David Mumpower

January 14, 2009

See, the thing is, we don't have your money right now, but as soon as our loan goes through...

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Due to these struggles, the SKG trio were forced to spin off DreamWorks Animation into its own company in 2004. In December, less than six months after the release of the disastrous The Island, DreamWorks was forced to agree to sell their company to Paramount Pictures. In February of 2006, the deal was finalized with Paramount assuming the company's remaining debt, placed at a whopping $400 million, and valuating the company's worth at $1.6 billion. Animus was created almost immediately afterward when Paramount sold off the entire DreamWorks live action library for $900 million. This transaction occurred only five weeks after the purchase of DreamWorks was completed. Anyone who knows anything about Hollywood egos recognizes the act of aggression this move was considered to be. In the end, the business relationship between the two groups never recovered from that one transaction although it's unlikely that the parties involved ever would have been able to cohabitate in the same entity anyway.

The legal wording of the Paramount acquisition of DreamWorks allowed for the latter party to branch off on its own after a designated period if they were unhappy with the new alliance. Both groups realized inside of six months that DreamWorks would be leaving Paramount on the first day possible. People within the DreamWorks office described their work atmosphere as toxic, a startling change from the celebration of creativity that had existed when the group had been a start-up. The corporate atmosphere at the Viacom subsidiary was simply not in keeping with the spirit from which DreamWorks was founded. The SKG trio had been seeking to escape such a setting in the first place yet their financial miscalculations had placed them in exactly such a spot for over two years.




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In June of 2008, Variety reported that DreamWorks was trying to work out a deal to get at least a billion in financing in order to allow them to function as an independent company releasing eight titles a year. At this point, no one expected a working relationship between DreamWorks and Paramount moving forward as the antagonistic relationship between David Geffen and Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount, was too big an obstacle. An unexpected change in circumstances in October saw Geffen announce he was retiring, leaving Spielberg and current DreamWorks daily operations boss Stacey Snider to work out details of the Paramount divorce. Snider, a former chairman at Universal Pictures, gave every indication that the company's future was in business developments with her prior company, which it is. The shock, however, is that Paramount and DreamWorks have agreed upon a shocking number of future liaisons.

Paramount will co-finance many of DreamWorks' future releases. In order to secure the integrity of such an unexpected turn of events, DreamWorks' head of production, Adam Goodman, actually switched over to become a permanent employee of Paramount. This allows him to spearhead the roughly 200 projects in which he has been intimately involved over the past couple of years since the merger. With a friend running the Paramount side, DreamWorks feels that there is already a better working relationship with the company than had existed during their entire time working under the Viacom umbrella.


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