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DreamWorks splits from Paramount

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It’s official: DreamWorks is an independent company again. After two-and-a-half years and an unparalleled run of success (Tropic Thunder, Transformers, and Disturbia, among others) the company founded by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg will no longer be a part of the Paramount family. Spielberg, Geffen, and chief executive Stacey Snider are expected to take their production and marketing/publicity staffs with them, according to a source close to the deal. Thanks to a deal with India’s Mumbai-based Reliance ADA Group estimated to be worth $500 million and $1.2 billion, the newly independent DreamWorks will establish its own operations.

But rather than startup its own distribution arm, as DreamWorks did when it was first established in 1994, the company — which kept many of its corporate offices on the Universal Studios lot — will look to another major to release its slate of six films a year. Paramount has taken itself out of the running and word around Hollywood is the likely winner will be Universal Studios. (DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind the Shrek franchise and this year’s Madagascar, will continue to distribute its movies through Paramount.)

Insiders say that a lot of horse trading will now have to go on between DreamWorks and Paramount over what titles each studio will walk away with. While Paramount will surely release everything in production — including The Soloist, The Lovely Bones, and DreamWorks co-production Transformers 2 — the studio will not be able to develop every project that DreamWorks was trying to put into the pipeline. What titles go to which party should be hashed out in the next month.

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