While there is still one more year on DreamWorks’ pact with The Walt Disney Co., the live-action company overseen by director Steven Spielberg could end up at any studio in town at the moment. “There have been no negotiations, no proposals between DreamWorks or Steven and Universal,” said one source with knowledge of the situation. Said another, DreamWorks could end up at Paramount, Fox, Universal or even Warner Bros. where the director is moving forward on the film Ready Player One.
“It’s a year away. He’ll go to whomever can give him the best deal,” said one source who knows Spielberg. “It’s so premature right now to say where he’s going to end up. He’ll be talking to everyone. I think for sentimental reasons, people would like to see him to go back to Universal because that’s where he started, but he gets a huge piece of the gross and a lot of money. He cares about the money and distribution like any good businessman. He’ll kick every tire in town before he decides.”
DreamWorks’ deal at Disney was sealed initially in 2009 with then-studio chairman Dick Cook. It was also done prior to the acquisition of both Marvel and Lucasfilm. The strategy at Disney was initially implemented to bolster the live-action side of things, but now with Marvel, Lucasfilm and even Pixar titles, the studio is well-heeled. DreamWorks’ next title with Disney is the Spielberg-directed historical thriller Bridge Of Spies, out on October 16. An insider confirmed that, indeed, the last DreamWorks title to be released under its Disney deal will be Spielberg’s adaptation of the Roald Dahl book The BFG on July 1, 2016.
The projects that DreamWorks currently has in its queue — Lasse Hallstrom’s A Dog’s Purpose, Tate Taylor’s The Girl On The Train and the Scarlett Johansson live-action manga title Ghost In The Shell — would segue to the studio where DreamWorks plants itself. To date, A Dog’s Purpose is the only title in production while the other two are still in development.
The box office track record has been mixed at best for DreamWorks under Disney spanning 11 releases that have taken in $1.5 billion at the global box office. The bulk of them had financial participation by India’s Reliance Entertainment. That amount is far cry from the $4.5B DreamWorks minted at Paramount across 29 titles released between 2005 and 2010, the biggest of which were Transformers: The Revenge Of The Fallen ($836.3M worldwide B.O.) and Transformers ($709.7M). The highest-grossing DreamWorks titles at Disney include Real Steel which made $299.3M worldwide, followed by Lincoln ($275.3M) and The Help ($216.6M). There were some clunkers too including the 1980s horror reboot Fright Night ($41M global B.O.) and dramas People Like Us ($12.4M) and The Fifth Estate ($8.6M).