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DreamWorks announces new international partnerships

September 20, 2012

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DreamWorks has entered into a strategic partnership with London-based Mister Smith, a film finance, sales, and licensing company formed in May 2012 as a joint venture with Munich-based film production and distribution company Constantin Films. The deal involves Mister Smith handling "all-media" sales of DreamWorks titles in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

This new distribution strategy involves separate multi-year output deals with independent regional distribution companies. Constantin will handle cross-platform distribution of DreamWorks titles in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, eOne in Benelux and the UK, Nordisk Film across Scandinavia, and Italia Film in the Middle East. More partnerships are expected to be announced.

These distribution partnerships only include future titles to be released; not included is a current slate of live-action films co-financed with Twentieth Century Fox which the latter will also distribute. The Walt Disney Company will continue to distribute DreamWorks titles in North America, Latin America, Russia, Australia, and some Asian markets, with Reliance, a key financial backer of DreamWorks since 2008, handling distribution in India.

These new partnerships mark a shift in strategy for DreamWorks. Formerly, DreamWorks theatrical and home video titles were marketed and distributed internationally through one-time owner Paramount Studios, via its joint venture with Universal, United International Pictures (UIP).  A pared-down DreamWorks split from Paramount Studios in 2008, leaving the outfit without a library to generate revenue from (which had been sold off by Paramount parent company Viacom in 2006) or a distribution network.

Instead of expanding its partnership with Disney or replacing Paramount (UIP) with a distribution service deal at a rival studio, as DreamWorks Animation recently did with Twentieth Century Fox, DreamWorks has opted for local partnerships in these territories.  This allows DreamWorks to build a distribution network, retaining more control over its theatrical, television and home entertainment properties in EMEA. A strength of this strategy is the culturally specific expertise each of these partners can provide throughout the entire value chain.

Also key to these partnerships is the potential for financing new films and television programs, as the revenues generated by distributor minimum guarantees and sales by Mister Smith can flow back into the production of new titles.  In the case of Constantin, Nordisk, and eOne, all are already involved in production and co-financing, resources which will most likely by tapped by DreamWorks for projects in its future development pipeline.

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