Paramount to Acquire DreamWorks Studio Paramount Pictures will buy independent film studio DreamWorks SKG in a cash-and-debt deal worth more than $1.5 billion. It plans to sell a 59-film library, but keep the studio. DreamWorks' animation unit is not a part of the deal.

Paramount to Acquire DreamWorks Studio

Paramount to Acquire DreamWorks Studio

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Paramount Pictures will buy independent film studio DreamWorks SKG in a cash-and-debt deal worth more than $1.5 billion. It plans to sell a 59-film library, but keep the studio. DreamWorks' animation unit is not a part of the deal.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

On Mondays, we talk about technology. Tech toys coming up after a look at the sale of DreamWorks.

In a surprise move, Paramount is acquiring DreamWorks. DreamWorks, of course, is a film company announced amid much hoopla 11 years ago by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. NPR's Kim Masters is here in our studio to tell us about this deal.

Good morning.

KIM MASTERS reporting:

Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So exactly what does Paramount and its parent company Viacom get?

MASTERS: Well, they're getting a film library which has movies like "Gladiator" and "American Beauty," but they're going to sell that almost immediately to pay part of the deal. And then they'll get movies that DreamWorks is working on now and will work on in the future. And they'll get a relationship with Steven Spielberg, and they will have at least part of any movie that he makes. And Paramount has said that they regard this as a transforming moment because it's been in the doldrums, that studio, and this is a chance to say, `We're the home of Steven Spielberg.'

MONTAGNE: What about DreamWorks Animation? I mean, that's a big one. Does that go to Viacom-Paramount, too?

MASTERS: No, that is not included in the deal. But DreamWorks Animation, the home of "Shrek," will distribute its films through Paramount and they'll collect a fee for that.

MONTAGNE: Why did these three hugely creative and successful movie moguls not realize this dream that they had of sort of creating an all-new fully functioning Hollywood studio with DreamWorks?

MASTERS: Well, for one thing, they started from scratch and there's conventional wisdom now that it's almost impossible to start a studio without a big film library that throws off cash. But the other problem really is that Steven Spielberg did what Steven Spielberg wanted to do and he didn't devote himself to DreamWorks. He made movies with other studios, and he allowed his production person to kind of create a bottleneck that really caused DreamWorks to go from a company that had some Oscar winners early on to a company that had a bunch of bombs; lately, "The Island." It just sort of had a very bad run.

MONTAGNE: And then Paramount--it was a surprise suitor.

MASTERS: Right. Steven Spielberg's entire career has been spent with Universal. But Universal's parent, GE, really kind of balked over the deal; it took too long. And Paramount, which is sort of starved--it's starved for movies--swooped in just sewed this up very quickly.

MONTAGNE: Kim, thanks very much.

MASTERS: Oh, thank you.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Kim Masters, speaking to us about Paramount acquiring DreamWorks.

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