Dreamworks to Split from Disney

Reuters

Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks (NASDAQ:DWA) will not renew its current distribution deal with the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS), which expires in August, sources have confirmed to Variety.

The Disney deal dates back to 2009, but since then Disney has acquired both Marvel and Lucasfilm, underlining its focus on branded, tentpole films.

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Disney will release two more DreamWorks films, both directed by Spielberg, before the deal expires: Tom Hanks' Cold War thriller "Bridge of Spies" on Oct. 16 and "The BFG" on July 1.

"The BFG" is a co-production with Disney that will be Spielberg's first Disney-branded film. All of the previous films from DreamWorks have been released under Disney's Touchstone banner.

Sources also indicate that DreamWorks is most likely to wind up with a distribution deal at Universal while emphasizing that no agreement has been reached. They noted that Spielberg has kept his offices on the lot, even after the Disney deal was struck, and he was executive producer on Universal's smash hit "Jurassic World."

Universal, Disney and DreamWorks declined to comment.

With Disney's focus on big animated offerings, comic book adventures, and "Star Wars" spin-offs the kinds of adult-oriented, smaller pictures that DreamWorks made in recent years, such as "The Help" and "Lincoln," often seemed like an awkward fit and a case of competing sensibilities.

DreamWorks' current slate includes Lasse Hallstrom's "A Dog's Purpose," which is production; "The Girl on the Train," directed by Tate Taylor with Emily Blunt starring; and "Ghost in the Shell," starring Scarlett Johansson, which is set for release in March of 2017, with Paramount handling international markets.

DreamWorks has relied on Indian entertainment conglomerate Reliance for financing since making the Disney deal. Stacey Snider left last year from her post as CEO at DreamWorks for a job at Fox and was replaced by veteran exec Michael Wright.

News about DreamWorks and Disney not renewing their deal was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.