Paramount Reportedly Will Buy Dreamworks SKG

By Michelle
December 11, 2005 - 4:36 AM

Paramount Pictures has put in a successful bid to purchase independent movie studio Dreamworks SKG, giving Paramount a stake in future Steven Spielberg movies and a library of 60 films.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the deal will cost Paramount - which is owned by the Viacom division of the Viacom-CBS split - over a billion dollars, but will prevent rival NBC Universal from acquiring the studio, which is estimated to be $500 million in debt. In October, Paramount denied interest in trying to acquire Dreamworks but the Viacom board approved a bid of over $1.5 billion on Thursday provided that outside investors are brought in as well. A formal announcement may arrive as early as tomorrow.

Paramount chairman Brad Grey would gain control of Dreamworks' live-action movie production facilities and its previously produced films, including Academy Award winners Gladiator and American Beauty. Paramount would also gain distribution rights to Dreamworks Animation films, but not to the film profits themselves, since Jeffrey Katzenberg-headed Dreamworks Animation became independent last year and would not be included in the purchase.

Grey, who is trying to revitalize Paramount, and Viacom CEO Tom Freston met with Spielberg and Dreamworks partner David Geffen to work out the deal. Paramount will own half of every film directed by multi-Oscar winning director-producer Spielberg, one of Hollywood's most successful filmmakers. Paramount and Dreamworks were partners on Spielberg's science fiction thriller War of the Worlds and his acclaimed Saving Private Ryan. Dreamworks and Paramount have a number of other joint projects in the works already, including a live-action version of The Transformers.

The Viacom split and the changes at Paramount Pictures have left the future of Star Trek in a state of confusion at present. The new CBS corporation will own UPN and Paramount Television, which respectively broadcast and produced Enterprise. Longtime Star Trek executive producer Rick Berman has a proposal at Paramount for an eleventh Star Trek film which has been described for many months as in very early stages of development. But reports have surfaced that may shut down at the end of the year along with Paramount Digital Entertainment, a casualty of the split.

Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that Erik Jendresen, who was previously named as the scribe for Berman's proposed Star Trek film (story), has moved on to one hour drama. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Jendresen will write a pilot for NBC about an expert at deprogramming people who have been brainwashed by cults and terrorist organizations.

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