Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Disney Said to Part With Spielberg's DreamWorks When Deal Ends

  • Blockbuster director said in talks with other distributors
  • Two films, including Cold War thriller, are left under accord

Walt Disney Co. isn’t planning to renew its film distribution agreement with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios when their deal expires in August 2016, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Spielberg, 68, known for blockbusters such as “Jaws” and “E.T.,” is in talks with Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures and other studios for a new distribution agreement, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

After the acquisitions of Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm, Disney has been focusing on big-budget action pictures that appeal to young viewers and can be coupled with merchandise sales and theme-park attractions. The studio ranks second this year in U.S. box-office receipts, thanks to films including “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which has taken in $1.4 billion worldwide, according to the researcher Box Office Mojo.

Disney, based in Burbank, California, signed the deal to distribute DreamWorks Studios’ pictures in 2009. Spielberg’s company has two more films to be released with its current partner, the Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies” and “The BFG,” based on a Roald Dahl children’s book.

Filmmakers often align with major studios for financing, marketing and the distribution of their movies in theaters and through home entertainment.

The Hollywood Reporter said earlier Wednesday that Spielberg was in talks with Universal to handle distribution after the Disney deal expires.

‘Hundred-Foot Journey’

DreamWorks Studios’ most-recent release “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” is the story of an Indian family that moves to France to open a restaurant. Produced at a cost of $22 million, the film grossed $88.9 million in theaters worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Disney had provided loans to DreamWorks Studios that totaled $156 million as of September 2014. An additional $90 million was available, according to a November regulatory filing. DreamWorks Studios has been in talks with Participant Media for financing, two people said.

Spielberg served as an executive producer of “Jurassic World,” the June release from Universal that is the top-grossing film in the world this year, with receipts of $1.64 billion. He has a long-standing relationship with that studio, including an office on its Los Angeles lot.

DreamWorks Studios is separate from the publicly traded DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., although they began as a joint venture by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

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