Friday, July 17, 2009

DreamWorks confirms $825 million for new studio

DreamWorks confirms $825 mil
New studio no longer a dream as partners finalize terms

July 16, 2009

By Nyay Bhushan and Carl DiOrio

DreamWorks Studios expects to soon finalize the financing it needs to fuel development and production of a full film slate.

DreamWorks toppers Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider were joined by Reliance Big Entertainment topper Anil Ambani, their equity partner in taking the studio private after a couple of years of ownership by Paramount, in officially announcing Wednesday that the studio is buttoning up $825 million in initial funding.

The Hollywood Reporter reported last month that JPMorgan Securities had won firm pledges for a $325 million loan syndication, with the balance of funding coming from Mumbai-based RBE and DreamWorks distribution partner Disney.

But the formal acknowledgment of that good news turned out to be surprisingly low-key, with the partners putting out a statement from New York, where they had gathered for a business meeting.

The announcement largely was intended for India-based journalists, who were briefed in a conference call on various corporate developments, but word spread among stateside media Thursday.

DreamWorks will have a four-person board consisting of Spielberg, Snider, RBE's Amitabh Jhunjhunwala and JPMorgan's Alan Levine.

The new company has been developing film projects since November, operating on start-up capital supplied by Spielberg and others.

"This venture with Reliance opens a new door to our future," Spielberg said.

Said the partners in the joint statement:

"With this financing, DreamWorks will eventually make five to six films per year.

DreamWorks anticipates starting its first film for the new studio later this year.

They have been actively acquiring properties and developing projects for release in 2010.

"RBE is contributing $325 million in financing and Disney up to $175 million.

JPMorgan hopes soon to close on the other $325 million portion.

Disney will handle marketing and distribution of the studio's films worldwide except for in India, where RBE will hold distribution rights.

"We are delighted to partner with such uniquely talented individuals as Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider," Ambani said.

"Ever since we looked at their business plan, I have never doubted that we would succeed in providing them with the financial muscle required to realize their dreams.

"The DreamWorks partners also met informally with New York-based media Wednesday for a background discussion of the studio's plans.

Spielberg confirmed he would direct a Martin Luther King biopic, and Snider stressed that the studio has had a flood of interest from top producers and writers despite its protracted financing process.

DreamWorks has developed some properties on its own and acquired others from Paramount.

Projects include the sci-fi comic book adaptation "Cowboys & Aliens," co-financed by Universal;

"Dinner for Schmucks," director Jay Roach's remake of French film "The Dinner Game";

the action caper "Motorcade," from director Len Wiseman;

and the supernatural drama "Hereafter," from screenwriter Peter Morgan.

RBE last year announced a string of "development silos" with A-list Hollywood talent.

Nonexclusive co-production pacts were struck with Nicolas Cage's Saturn Prods.,

Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment,

George Clooney's Smoke House Prods.,

Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures,

Tom Hanks' Playtone Prods.,

Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment,

Roach's Everyman Pictures,

Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment and

Julia Roberts' Red Om Films.

Spielberg's Indian connections began in 1977, when he shot some scenes for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" near Mumbai.

He returned for a personal visit in 1978 and plans to come back this year to visit with local film industry insiders and review possible movie material.

Nyay Bhushan reported from Mumbai;

Carl DiOrio reported from Los Angeles. Patrick Frater in Hong Kong contributed to this report.


***Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science's President Sid Ganis and media expert and author Michael Levine having lunch yesterday at The Grill in Beverly Hills.

***LBN Editor Shannon Donnelly celebrating one year anniversary as Editor with a dinner last night at The Palm in West Hollywood.

***Tom Cruise was seen doing the famous "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" dance at Beyonce's concert at L.A.'s Staples Center.

*** Away from the stage, Beyonce dropped $6,000 on some new sunglasses at Ilori, a boutique on Beverly Hills's Rodeo Drive.

***Naomi Watts, window shopping along Paris's Avenue Montaigne with Liev Schreiber and sons Sasha and Kai before settling into the terrace at the Caf de l'Alma for lunch.

*** The Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel, dining at Sunda in Chicago with boyfriend Jason Hoppy.


( Co-founder, Tao of Wellness & Yo San University, & Best-selling autor):

I believe English should be the official language of the U.S. Each country should have its official language which enables universal communication and thus increasing acceptance, understanding and cooperation among its citizens.

Notwithstanding the fact that I am an immigrant who spoke no English when I arrived in the United States from Asia in the late 70s, I firmly believe that English should be the official language of the U.S.

It is hard to imagine my professional success without having proficiency in English.

Immigrants and their children who fail to learn English are disconnected from America despite their physical presence and limit their opportunities to advance and integrate their lives into the society.


(Co-founder, Fast Company magazine):

Business Week needs to create a franchise.

Because it's not print that's dead, or even print about business that's dead.

It's old and tired franchises that are dead, franchises that have run out of gas, purpose and energy.


***The most common name in the world is Mohammed.

***Karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.

*** When you die your hair and finger nails will continue to for a couple of months.

***The first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians in 2000 B.C.

***Rhode Island is the smallest state with the longest name.

The official name, used on all state documents, is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."


"She [Naomi Campbell] is amazing. Twenty years in ze business und all ze pressure und fame hasn't changed her a bit.
She's remained a total bitch" -- Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno.

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