DreamWorks buys 17 film projects from Par

$26.5 mil exchanges hands in pact

Executives at the soon-to-be reconstituted DreamWorks are keeping a good thought and marching forward, with one collective hand outstretched and the other digging deep to make good on a scheduled product payment.

Free of their recent corporate overseers at Paramount, DreamWorks brass said Thursday that they had completed the purchase from Par of 17 film projects developed while under control of the Melrose studio.

A $26.5 million payment was shared equally by DreamWorks' new financial partner, Mumbai-based Reliance Big Entertainment, and studio co-founder Steven Spielberg. Although DreamWorks execs would not comment on the payment beyond their brief statement, it's also known Spielberg previously paid $10 million to get operations going at the new DreamWorks once the Par exit was completed.

J.P. Morgan Securities is working with a half-dozen lenders to construct a $325 million bank syndication intended for first-phase completion by March 31. The next two weeks are considered key to its success, with a matching $325 million commitment from RBE likely to morph into renewed negotiations with the Indian conglomerate should the syndication run into snags.

"These carefully selected (film) properties will lay the foundation for the new company to continue to produce the quality films that DreamWorks is known for," DreamWorks execs said. "As previously reported, the timetable and level of debt financing has been adjusted to meet the current unprecedented global economic climate. But the partners remain enthusiastically committed and along with J.P. Morgan are confident that their original long-term goals will be achieved."

J.P. Morgan recirculated term sheets of its proposed syndication in mid-December, reducing the amount from a previous goal of raising $750 million. DreamWorks officials also agreed to shave overhead costs in their business plan.
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