Dreamworks Universal deal

Since 2009 Dreamworks has enjoyed a deal with Disney that sees Dreamworks films released and promoted through Disney’s machinery, but that could change soon. That Disney deal expires in 2016, and Steven Spielberg is reportedly in talks with Universal to house Dreamworks at that studio.

It’s a business deal that won’t come as a surprise to many, and which might not seem to mean much to people outside of the fact that the Ghost in the Shell film being assembled by Dreamworks could ultimately be released by Universal in the US, instead of Disney.

But there’s one sentence that sticks out in news of a possible Dreamworks Universal deal: “[Spielbeg] also is key on potential reboots of other Universal franchises such as Jaws and Back to the Future.” Those words inspire chills, and not good ones. 

THR has the report, and for the most part it is all business.

Jurassic World has renewed Spielberg’s financial clout to some extent, at least with Universal, and he’s working off that to negotiate a deal for Universal to distribute Dreamworks films starting with the company’s next batch of projects, including Lasse Hallstrom’s A Dog’s Purpose; Tate Taylor’s thriller The Girl on the Train; and Ghost in the Shell.

Spielberg’s The BFG would be the last Dreamworks film released by Disney, when that arrives on July 1, 2016.

But then there’s that line about possible reboots of Jaws and/or Back to the Future. Those are both things we can imagine Universal wanting to do, and further business ties between Spielberg and Universal would play upon whatever development might be happening there.

The question is: what is happening there? Robert Zemeckis has been firm about the idea that Back to the Future will not be remade while he’s alive. “Oh, God no. That can’t happen until both Bob [Gale] and I are dead,” he said earlier this year. And while someone at Universal is probably trying to figure out a way to make another BTTF sequel, that is also probably not something we have to worry much about.

And then there’s Jaws, about which even Spielberg has occasionally had sequel ideas. That’s something it’s a lot easier to see pushed forward as a sequel/reboot, especially in the wake of the success of Jurassic World. At this point there’s no real indication that a Jaws sequel or reboot is on the immediate horizon, but that’s something that will probably happen eventually.

In 2011, Spielberg told AICN,

I have a very, very good scene which I thought would have been good for a sequel someday, which I will tell you someday because I don’t want it in print. But I’ll tell you my scene some day. Every time I think of this scene I think, “Hmmm, could this be another Jaws movie?” and I have to immediately stop myself and immediately pull myself back down to Earth.

Will that idea be communicated to Universal? Perhaps, or maybe it already has.

By the way, Spielberg has also recently commented on his ideas about tentpole and superhero movies reaching the end of their cycle, to The Associated Press:

I still feel that way. We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns… Right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.

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