Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks is reportedly ready to move on from its distribution deal with Disney. Sources tell THR that the famed director plans to work with another studio once the current agreement ends in August 2016. Given Spielberg’s recent — not to mention enormous — success with Jurassic World, there’s speculation that the film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, could pick up where Disney leaves off.
Universal and Spielberg’s pairing proved to be formidable, to say the least. Jurassic World’s success was unprecedented and propelled the studio to the highest-grossing year at the worldwide box office four months before the 12-month period even ended. The Academy Award-winning director already has plans to team up with the studio again for the film’s 2018 sequel. On top of that, Spielberg has maintained offices at Universal over the years and is rumored to be involved with potential reboots of Jaws and Back to the Future, both of which would be distributed by the studio. A deal with DreamWorks could potentially make Universal even more dominant.
There’s still a year on the current arrangement, though, and sources tell Deadline that Spielberg will use the time to land the best possible agreement for DreamWorks. “There have been no negotiations, no proposals between DreamWorks or Steven and Universal,” said one of the insiders, naming Paramount, Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. as other possibilities.
The source did share that Spielberg has a special connection to Universal but expressed confidence that the director will explore his options: “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’ll kick every tire in town before he decides.”
As for why Disney has been ruled out, THR’s sources claim that the current deal hasn’t been ideal because of a leadership change. Not long after the arrangement was put in place, Dick Cook, Disney’s former chairman, was replaced, and the studio’s CEO, Bob Iger, was put in charge of film financing strategy. DreamWorks is reportedly seeking new investments so that it can greenlight its own films, as well as set budgets.
The final film to come out under the DreamWorks-Disney deal will be the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG on July 1, 2016, sources say. Beyond that, DreamWorks has one film in production and two in development, and the trio would be distributed through its new partner: A Dog’s Purpose, The Girl on the Train, and Ghost in the Shell.
DreamWorks shouldn’t have any problems finding a willing distributor. Although its collaboration with Disney has yielded less success on average than its previous deal with Paramount, Spielberg has repeatedly proven himself over the course of his legendary career. That, coupled with his massive success with Jurassic World, should all but guarantee that Spielberg can take his pick.
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