DreamWorks Looks to Foreign Box Office to Grow Business, Smooth Out Cash Flow

 

Looking to boost its international footprint, DreamWorks Studios is taking more control of its movies in Europe in a move to increase the company's financial flexibility.

Under a new partnership, David Garrett's fledgling international sales and financing company Mister Smith Entertainment will handle DreamWorks titles in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Disney, where Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks has a distribution deal, will continue to release DreamWorks titles everywhere else. And, as previously announced, 20th Century Fox is releasing Lincoln and Robopocalypse overseas after partnering with Disney and DreamWorks on the two films.

Reliance Entertainment, which holds a major stake in DreamWorks, will continue to distribute the company's films in India.

The first group of films covered under the deal with Mister Smith includes the untitled Ken Scott project, which begins principal photography in October, and Need for Speed, which starts shooting early next year. 

Garrett, based in London and one of the most respected sales agents in the business, formed Mister Smith after Summit merged with Lionsgate this year. Garrett was one of the founders of Summit International.

“David has a proven track record, and his years of experience in building Summit International will help us in this next step of growing our business," DreamWorks COO Jeff Small said. "This partnership allows us to best capitalize on the expanding global marketplace and generate foreign sales as a revenue source.  We appreciate Disney’s continued support of our company and our ongoing partnership."

Insiders say Mister Smith is likely to strike multipicture output deals with foreign distributors, providing DreamWorks with a smoother cash flow.

“I am incredibly excited to be working with Stacey, Steven, Jeff and the DreamWorks team," Garrett said. "I could not hope to be working with a more exceptionally talented and delightful group of people, and I hope that we will find a way of creating new and exciting synergies together, in the ever-changing international landscape.

"DreamWorks also has a very compelling, original and diverse slate of pictures in development, which is wonderfully refreshing," he continued. "We also hugely look forward to working with the Disney team, who have been so supportive of DreamWorks' new strategy."

Earlier this year -- following several box-office disappointments, including Cowboys & Aliens -- Reliance Entertainment agreed in principle to continue financing DreamWorks in a deal that will allow the company to make at least eight to 10 movies during the next two to three years.

Going forward, DreamWorks will make three or four films a year, focusing on tentpole or low-budget fare and avoiding the middle. On larger movies, DreamWorks will seek a partner, as it has with Fox.

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