Reels

UPDATE: Viacom took on $400 million in net debt and bought back a 51% majority stake in the DreamWorks SKG film library from billionaire investor George Soros in order to regain rights to 59 titles, including movies like Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan. viacom_logoJeez, that sounds like Viacom overpaid ridiculously. But not when you realize that Viacom in March 2006 agreed to sell the library to Soros for $900 million and retained a 49% stake. The purchase was completed on February 8th, but not disclosed until today by Viacom COO Tom Dooley on an earnings call. Also it wasn’t voluntary: I’m told that Soros had a “put” to Viacom at the established price of $400 million. “This was all part of the charade under the original Deal,” as a source snarked to me. “The DW library, although chuck full of some compelling pictures, wasn’t worth anywhere near $950 million. So a deal was set up with Soros whereby Viacom would allow Soros, after 5 years, to ‘put’ the library back to Viacom for basically the shortfall.” This library sale comes after I recently broke the story that Disney wants to sell the Miramax name and 700-film library for a high of $700 million — and at least 10 bidders are lining up. Yet at one point Disney valued the Miramax library at $2 billion. And Warner Bros and Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik and others are trying to buy MGM’s 4,100-film library once valued at $2 billion and now thought to be offered for $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion. Plus, there’s Overture Film’s miniscule 14-film library for the taking. Blame the slump in DVD sales for the values of film libraries dropping so fast.