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Universal, Spielberg End Distribution Talks


The following comes courtesy of Ron Grover, BusinessWeek’s Los Angeles Bureau Chief.

The Steven Spielberg Hollywood odyssey continues. Three months after apparently reaching agreement to leave his three-year deal with Viacom’s (VIAB) Paramount Pictures for Universal Pictures (GE), Spielberg is a free agent as well.

Citing “material changes” that it says Spielberg’s Dreamworks unit “demanded” from its initial agreement, Universal says it has ended discussions to work with the superstar director. Now, according to several sources, Spielberg is likely to sign with the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) to have his films distributed.

Spielberg and his production partner, Stacey Snider, are trying to raise an estimated $325 million to finance the films in a 50-50 partnership the two have with India’s Reliance Co. Under the Universal deal, Spielberg and Snider would have paid Universal an 8% distribution fee (after Universal’s marketing and other expenses) to distribute films that Spielberg and Snider would continue to own.

UPDATE 2/7: more details courtesy of Nikki Finke and the FT.


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