Spielberg studio gets financing from Reliance Entertainment

LOS ANGELES Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:27am IST

Director Steven Spielberg in San Diego, California in this July 22, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files

Director Steven Spielberg in San Diego, California in this July 22, 2011 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - DreamWorks Studios, the film company headed by director Steven Spielberg, will get around $200 million from its partner Reliance Entertainment to continue making films, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction.

The financing is the second part of a 2009 agreement to finance the studio. In that agreement, Reliance Entertainment, a unit of Reliance ADA Group, provided the partnership with $325 million of capital for an undisclosed stake.

The studio, which made Spielberg's "War Horse" and "The Help" last year, will produce between three and five films a year, a reduction from the four to six that it initially announced, said the person.

Reliance's 2009 investment came after months of negotiation with DreamWorks that reduced the Indian company's investment from a planned $650 million, as large-scale financing from banks became more difficult to secure. At the time, the two companies said in a press release that the investment was the first stage.

The Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) distributes and markets DreamWorks films under a five-year distribution agreement for "approximately" six films a year.

Reliance will retain its rights to distribute DreamWorks-produced films in India, the person familiar with the new transaction said.

DreamWorks is producing Spielberg's "Lincoln," scheduled to be released in December, with News Corp's (NWSA.O) Fox studio, according to the movie information website, IMDB.com. The film will be released by Disney in the U.S. and by Fox in Japan.

The financing deal was first reported by The New York Times on its website, but no details on financial terms were included. DreamWorks had no comment. Reliance representatives could not be reached for comment.

Reliance has been active in financing films in recent years, and said at the time of the 2009 announcement that it had invested more than $1 billion to produce films in English, Hindi and other Indian languages.

It also had development deals with several producers, including George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions and Tom Hanks' Playtone Productions and last year released the Bollywood film "Bodyguard" in the U.S.

The bankers for the joint venture, led by J.P. Morgan, did not change, the person said. The group provided senior debt of $325 million at the time.

(Reporting By Ronald Grover; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

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