Amblin Partners Signs New Multi-Year Deal With Universal Pictures; Participant Leaving As Stakeholder

Amblin Partners has signed a new multi-year film distribution partnership with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, as well as a series of new agreements that chart a clear course for the next phase of growth for one of the world’s leading independent film and TV studios. As part of the announcement Monday, Amblin Partners also said that founding partner Participant will now exit its role as an equity holder of the company.

“My decades-long relationship with Universal truly transcends any single business deal, and to once again renew our corporate vows reaffirms that Universal is Amblin’s home,” Steven Spielberg said. “In addition to Universal, we are blessed to continue forward with a global family of partners, including Alibaba, eOne and Reliance, each of which has supported us for many years and enabled our storytelling to touch the lives of millions of moviegoers around the world. I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to my dear friends Jeff Skoll and David Linde for an incredible run as formal partners; and my congratulations on what I know will be a successful next chapter in Participant’s journey. While in a different form, we look forward to continuing our collaborations to create the type of culturally-impactful content that only Participant can deliver.”

The exit of Participant, which as a founding partner played a key role in the formation of Amblin Partners in 2015, will allow it flexibility with respect to distribution of its films, while still keeping open opportunities to work with Amblin on future projects.

“We have enjoyed our relationship with Amblin Partners and are proud of the many notable films we have produced together,” Participant CEO Linde said. “Exiting our formal position will allow us the flexibility to evolve our business as our strategic goals and the marketplace dictates. Both Universal and Focus have been great distribution partners; and we have been incredibly fortunate to work closely with Steven, well pre-dating the formation of Amblin Partners, and look forward to finding new projects with him, Jeff Small and the entire Amblin team.”

Amblin’s continuing partnership with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group builds on a long history between the two companies, dating back to Spielberg’s arrival on the Universal lot as an intern in 1968. The new agreement further evolves the entities’ 2015 agreement that resulted in a number of critical and commercial hits, most recently Oscar Best Picture winner Green Book, and 1917, which won three Oscars, two Golden Globes and grossed more than $385 million at the worldwide box office.

“Steven Spielberg and Amblin Partners have delivered award-winning critical and commercial hits that stand the test of time amongst films in the Universal canon. We’re proud to continue our partnership and reinvest in the future of Amblin Partners,” said Donna Langley, chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

The new deal calls for multiple Amblin films to be marketed and distributed theatrically via Universal Pictures and Focus Features each year, while also providing Amblin  new opportunities in the streaming film marketplace. NBCUniversal has also agreed to re-invest in the company, continuing its position as an equity holder and providing fresh capital to fund new production and development efforts across the company’s film and TV businesses.

“Universal is simply the best in the business, and we are beyond fortunate to have Donna Langley and her team supporting our films,” said Jeff Small, Amblin Partners’ CEO. “In addition, the evolution of our partnership provides flexibility for us to continue supplying the fast-growing streaming marketplace on an even greater scale, which will no doubt be a key growth driver for Amblin Partners in both film and TV in the years ahead.”

Alibaba Pictures, eOne and Reliance Entertainment will all continue as equity holders, with Alibaba releasing Amblin films in China; eOne releasing in the UK, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Benelux; and Reliance releasing in India.

Amblin also announced the close of an amended and restated syndicated revolving credit facility led by J.P. Morgan and Comerica. The facility continues longstanding relationships with a number of additional banking partners, and in total includes City National Bank, Union Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Bank Hapoalim, CIT Bank, East West Bank, Fifth Third Bank, California Bank & Trust, Citizens Bank and Preferred Bank. The facility will fund ongoing corporate operations, as well as production and development activities for film and television.

“For nearly three decades, J.P. Morgan has had the pleasure of working with Amblin through its many significant achievements and milestones,” said David Shaheen, Head of the West Region and Entertainment Industries Group for J.P. Morgan’s Corporate Client Banking business. “We are proud to support the ambitious and creative Amblin team as they write the next chapter of their impressive story.”

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