Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BOLLY Hollywood

Musicals might be making a comeback.

Earlier this year, the Indian company, Tata Motors Ltd., agreed to buy Britain's Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. for $2.3 billion. Now, Dreamworks' producer Steven Spielberg and the rest might be up for sale, much like the studio was a few years ago.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mumbai-based Reliance ADA Group would provide Mr. Spielberg and company with $500 million to $600 million in equity. Reliance will get a large stake in the new company. They will, likely, get a lot of grief as well, although the Wall Street Journal refrains from saying so.

Dreamworks was formed in 1994 with a great deal of fanfare. Ten years later DreamWorks spun off the animation arm that Mr. Katzenberg was running. DreamWorks Animation SKG, which also distributes its films through Paramount in a deal that runs for several more years, is the creator of hits like "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda." Dreamworks studios, however, never lived up to their publicists' dream. A year later, in 2005 the company was bought up by Viacom, owner of CBS.

Viacom owns Paramount Studios (that has a long and interesting ownership history) but the acquisition was something of a dud with no major successes to brag about and a lot of Dreamwork egos, not to mention, unGodly high price tags for mediocre movies. Dreamworks appears to spend money like a dot.bomb business.

As for the Bolly Hollywood adventure, the new (unnamed company) would likely seek another $500 million or so in debt financing elsewhere to give its new venture enough money to make a slate of about six films a year.
Reliance Big Entertainment, already announced a slate of investments in Hollywood projects last month at the Cannes Film Festival. Those include providing financing to a handful of Hollywood top talent with production houses, like Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt. The company also said then it would spend more than $1 billion over the next 18 months building its entertainment empire in India and abroad.
Bottom line: a "dearth of Wall Street financing has opened up the door to foreign investors."
Spielberg is expected to be joined in the venture by current DreamWorks Chief Executive Stacey Snider, who has become a key ally and collaborator since joining Mr. Spielberg in 2006. The former head of Universal Pictures, Ms. Snider would give Reliance a tested Hollywood manager for its biggest foray into the global movie business.
Considering the fact that DreamWorks wasn't exactly a financial bonanza, is this a good thing?

Spielberg's other financial partnership was decidedly odd.

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