DreamWorks Entertainment, which has produced such
Oscar-winning films American Beauty, Gladiator and Shrek,
decided a while back that their pockets are just not deep enough to compete
in today's Hollywood. Therefore, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey
Katzenberg decided that their next best option, besides filming future films,
was to put Dreamworks up for sale. Now, two months later, that 'for sale'
sign may have actually been pulled back down again.
Dreamworks Drops Sale to Universal
Announced by THR,
NBC Uni chairman Bob Wright and Universal Studios president Ron Meyer pursued
DreamWorks for several months and earned the right of exclusive negotiations
three months ago.
DreamWorks and Universal confirmed that NBC Universal made an initial offer
of a whopping $1 billion for the decade old company. However, NBC seemed
to get a bit of buyer's remorse and decided that they would try lowering
the price download later that week.
In the end, it was Spielberg, currently filming Munich in Europe,
who balked and decided to take the role as lead negotiator for DreamWorks.
According to Geffen, "He [Spielberg] had been conflicted about it from the
beginning. When they changed the price, he decided not to do it."
DreamWorks' co-founder Steven Spielberg started his Hollywood career with
Universal Studios over thirty-five years ago, and has since maintained a
positive relationship. NBC Uni already distributes Dreamworks' movies and
DVD's under Universal Studios Home Video; while United Pictures International
runs Dreamworks' international distribution, the foreign distributor jointly
owned by Universal and Paramount.
The primary issue appears to have been the price of the deal. "The bottom line was only about money and GE's return on that money," said one source familiar with the discussions. While Universal might have been willing to meet DreamWorks' demands, the fiscally conservative GE was not.
As far as Spielberg was concerned, though, the bottom line also involved the issue of creative control.
Considering that DreamWorks has twice escaped bankruptcy; wouldn't this
be another reason why Spielberg wants out?