What we all knew would happen has happened: Steven Spielberg, now flush with his Reliance ADA investment, is returning to his long-time professional home Universal for the worldwide distribution of DreamWorks 2.0’s films. I hear the 7-year deal calls for 6 movies annually at an 8% fee once the restarted DreamWorks and its fresh infusion of money from India’s Reliance ADA and JP Morgan Chase gets going in 2009. The press release is below. “I feel gratified to be working with friends like Ron Meyer, Marc Shmuger, David Linde and Donna Langley whose advice and whose excellence I always benefitted from. It used to be from next door but now it will be from across the lot,” the new DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, who used to run production at Universal before taking the job with Spielberg, told me just now.  “Steven and I look forward to working with all of them and with Jeff Zucker and Jeffrey Immelt.”

Even though this was a forgone conclusion, considering that Spielberg has kept his Amblin office compound on the Uni lot even after DreamWorks’ sale to Paramount, serious consideration was also given to Disney. I heard one scenario discussed was that Miramax might disappear and DreamWorks take its place. With Disney having only a slim 12-film slate a year to distribute, as opposed to Universal’s already full slate over the next few years, the argument was that it could give the new DreamWorks more commitment and attention. That, combined with Disney’s global marketing machine, made a compelling argument. But my sources emphasize to me that, despite early conversations with Disney’s Bob Iger and Dick Cook, there was never an specific offer on the table because Spielberg didn’t want to play one studio against the other.

I’ve already reported that the new DreamWorks will be 15% smaller so the existing offices won’t need to be expanded. The director also has been and will remain deeply involved as a creative partner in Universal theme parks. So this will be as seamless a transition as any in the history of Hollywood.

Snider told me that none of this — not the Indian deal, not the JP Morgan Chase money, not the divorce from Paramount — would have been possible without the behind-the-scenes contribution of David Geffen, the original DreamWorks partner who is now separate from DW 2.0 and retiring from the film business. “I need to express my love, gratitude, appreciation, and awe to David Geffen, who worked on this deal for the last year with nothing personal at stake to give Steven and me and the company the chance to be independent again. That’s miraculous.”

So ends what has been a two-year drama. Maybe now we can all start talking about something else…

Here’s the official news release:

Los Angeles, CA (October 13, 2008) – Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg today announced a 7-year worldwide distribution deal between their new motion picture company and Universal Studios, which is expected to begin in 2009 and include approximately 6 films per year.

Snider and Spielberg recently departed Paramount Pictures to partner with Reliance Big Entertainment on a new motion picture company.  Reliance Big will distribute the new company’s projects in India.

“We are delighted to be back in business with Steven and Stacey and the rest of their superb team,” said Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal. “They are longtime friends of ours and terrific moviemakers. We are honored to be part of the next chapter of their success.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome the DreamWorks team back to Universal and our long history of success together will continue.  As always, it is an honor to do business with Steven Spielberg, one of the most prolific directors of our generation and our long-time friend and colleague Stacey Snider, who is one of the finest film executives in our business.” said Ron Meyer, President & COO, Universal Studios.

“Steven and I have both enjoyed successful, long-time relationships with Ron Meyer and everyone at Universal,” said Stacey Snider.  “Having spent a decade in the Universal family, I’m very familiar with their talented distribution and marketing teams, under the dynamic leadership of Marc Shmuger and David Linde.  Steven and I are looking forward to this new association with our old friends.”

“Universal has always been my home base so this agreement starts a new chapter in what has been a long and successful association,” said Steven Spielberg.  “While it feels great to come home again, it feels like I never left, and Stacey and I look forward to working once again with our friends and colleagues, old and new.  It’s an exciting time for us and we want it to be equally as productive and rewarding for Universal.”

“We are looking forward to a long, productive relationship bringing DreamWorks films to audiences around the globe,” said Chairman of Universal Pictures Marc Shmuger of the DreamWorks Universal partnership.  Co-Chairman, Universal Pictures David Linde added: “We are glad to be adding DreamWorks films to Universal’s slate.  Steven and Stacey are some of the best in the business and we look forward to being in business with them again.”

David Geffen negotiated the deal on behalf of the new motion picture company.  As previously announced, Geffen will not be joining Snider and Spielberg in the new company.

“David Geffen has been my partner for 14 years, my advisor for 30 and will be my friend for life,” said Spielberg.  “DreamWorks will have a second chapter because of David’s vision and indomitable spirit.”

Snider added, “Steven and I could not be embarking upon this new adventure were it not for the brilliance, dedication and loyalty of David Geffen.  I am forever grateful.”

  1. DreamWorks Will Be Downsizing 15%
  2. Paramount And Dreamworks Finalize Separation; David Geffen Ends DW Relationship
  3. DreamWorks Tells Owner Paramount Friday AM That Reliance Deal Signed
  4. CAA Put DreamWorks With Reliance: Hollywood Agency To Pocket Millions
  5. GE’s Immelt Takes Spielberg To Dinner; Zucker & Director Plot Universal Backlot
  6. Greenlight For DreamWorks-Reliance Deal
  7. Finke/LA Weekly: Credit Crunch Hits Paramount
  8. Paramount Financing Loss: Crisis Or Not?
  9. DreamWorks Finds Indian Big Bucks To Form New Film Biz
  10. Spielberg vs Paramount: The Real Story
  11. Still More Inaccurate Info Re DreamWorks
  12. Zucker Hints At Uni-DreamWorks Reunion
  13. NY Times Reports DreamWorks All Wrong
  14. Anchors Aweigh: Geffen & Murdoch Cruise
  15. Geffen Hits Back Redstone In Vanity Fair
  16. DreamWorks & NBC Universal Break Bread In Very Public Forum
  17. Paramount’s Brad Grey: Happy At Last
  18. Brad Grey No Longer Bosses DreamWorks
  19. Spielberg Tells Grey He’s “Very Happy”
  20. Now Paramount/DreamWorks Deal Looks Better With Benefit Of 20/20 Hindsight
  21. ‘How High Do We Jump, Mr. Spielberg?’
  22. Their Dinner About Brad… Sumner Feasts
  23. NYT: Par Not A Dream Deal For Spielberg
  24. Finke/LA Weekly: Brad’s Boorish Globes
  25. Geffen To Redstone: Hire Jeffrey. Redstone to Geffen: No.