This is a huge concession by Steven Spielberg, who has had a longstanding 2% consulting deal with Universal theme parks dating back to January 20, 1987, and the days when Lew Wasserman/Sid Sheinberg controlled the studio. Nowadays, that’s worth $50 million a year to the director and includes theme parks in Florida, Osaka, and additional projects contemplated in Singapore, Dubai, etc. Earlier this year, Universal asked Spielberg to delay for 5 years his ‘”put” deal — his right to have the studio buy him out of the parks deal in a year. At that point, Spielberg said no. But now he’s agreed to shift it to 2017.
The new terms also include provisions for a sale of NBC Universal including the theme parks: “If the Partnership and/or its Affiliates transfer ownership of their equity interests, if any, in the Florida Project and any then-existing Comparable Projects as a unit to a new owner, provided that as of the date of such change of ownership, the financial condition of the new owner reasonably appears to Steven to be sufficiently strong to enable the new owner to comply with its obligations to Steven and such new owner assumes for Steven’s benefit all of the Partnership’s obligations to Steven in writing, Steven will look solely to the new owner for any obligations accruing or arising after said date and the guarantees by MCA Inc. and Cineplex Odeon Corporation, as well as, in the event the transfer occurs after June 7, 2017, the guarantee by NBC Universal, Inc. (“NBCU”), referred to in Paragraph 22 will terminate. Except as set forth above, no transfer of ownership shall affect the rights and obligations of the parties.”
Universal’s theme parks relationship has been exclusive with Spielberg, whose reconstituted DreamWorks is now based at Disney. He can certainly license his movies for attractions to anyone he wants. But in terms of consulting with theme parks, that has been and will be exclusive for many years to come. So forget any Spielberg/Disney theme parks alliance in the near future.
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