Studio Shuffle: Robert Zemeckis Moves ImageMovers; DreamWorks Animation Parts With Paramount

Look at the box office receipts for even a moderately successful animated film and you know animation studios are becoming Hollywood mega powers. Even five years ago when Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion, it was pretty evident that if your company made quality animation, you had a a pretty steady job. Today's news shines a light on both ends of that equation.

First there's DreamWorks Animation, the people behind the Shrek and Kung Fu Panda movies, who have just made the bold move to tell their distribution partner Paramount they would not be working together after next year. Then there's Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers, a company that all but died after the flop Mars Needs Moms (above), which might have found a new home at Universal. Read more about each story after the jump.

Paramount has been distributing DreamWorks Animated films for several years but their current contact is up in 2012. With the current deal, Paramount gets 8% of the grosses on the films but apparently that's too much for DreamWorks. On Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter, they rejected Paramount's proposal to extend the deal through 2013. Paramount saw this coming and, a few weeks ago, announced they would start their own animation company but this means any films that DreamWorks animation has planned past 2012 (which is a lot based on this previously released schedule) are currently without a home.

Where does that leave a film like How To Train Your Dragon 2? All of the other major studios have their own animation divisions and, according to an LA Times article, the only one that doesn't – Warner Bros. – isn't interested. That means they'd basically either have to hammer something out with Paramount or self-distribute. Either way, it's a gutsy decision to basically sever ties with your distributor and could easily be described as anything from extreme confidence to calculated scare tactic.

On to the other production house. ImageMovers, a company co-run by Robert Zemeckis that produced Monster House, The Polar Express and Beowulf, was closed earlier this year after the costly film Mars Needs Moms bombed horribly. Not only did it shut down the company, it stopped production on films like Zemeckis' Yellow Submarine and, ever since, has left the Oscar-winning director floating around without a project (though he's been attached to several.)

The latest news states that the company may relaunch in a deal with Universal, a place Zemeckis experienced much success with the Back to the Future films. It would be a first-look deal, meaning Universal gets the first crack to distribute anything ImageMovers creates. Unfortunately, the terms are reportedly not be anywhere near as lucrative as the one the company previously had with Disney. Either way, this move could be the spark that puts several productions such as Yellow Submarine, back on track.

Which move is more interesting to you? DreamWorks breaking off on their own or ImageMovers coming back from the dead?