The trades and business sections are all abuzz today on the Dreamworks/Paramount deal announced late last Friday. Sharon Waxman's piece in today's NY Times is less "why" than "how." And how *did* Brad Grey lure an unconvinced David Geffen and Steven Spielberg from their first choice, NBC/Universal? With speed, efficiency, and, of course, lots of cash. The morning after getting the go-ahead from corporate daddy Viacom, Grey apparently brought the paperwork over to Spielberg's Malibu home, obeying an earlier command from Geffen to leave him and his partner alone until he had "signed contracts that require only our signatures." But one can't disavow Paramount's willingness to pay. A large part of the discrepancy between the Paramount payout and the considerably lower number quoted in reference to the Universal deal will actually go to Universal – Paramount will have to pay them $75 million in order to nulify a previous Dreamworks Animation distribution deal, and repay another $75 million in old loans made when Dreamworks first started running out of cash.

But nobody seems to be complaining. In an interview with Waxman, Geffen said that, despite the $1.6 billion figure that's been bandied about, the Paramount deal was not actually worth more than a few million more than what Universal had proposed; in the end, he was simply impatient to sell, and Paramount was there. "Dealing with G.E. is unpleasant and difficult under any circumstances," he said, speculating that Universal had made the mistake of assuming "we had no choice and were going to squeeze us and squeeze us. After a year of dealing with them, they still did not have a concluded finished contract ready to sign."
categories Movies, Cinematical