Vote of confidence for Goodman, Parkes, MacDonald

HOLLYWOOD — As DreamWorks and Universal enter into a two-month discussion period over the sale of the former, the studio built by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen is sending out a message of solidarity.

DreamWorks is extending the contract of production prexy Adam Goodman for four years through 2009. It is also extending until Dec. 31, 2008, the production deal of Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who stepped down as heads of DreamWorks Pictures earlier this year.

The extension of contracts sends a vote of confidence to the exec and filmmakers, as well as to the outside world, which has been buzzing about the possible sale of the 11-year-old company.

It also indicates that in the event of a sale — in which DreamWorks would be scaled down from its current size — Goodman, Parkes and MacDonald will be included.

Announcement comes as company’s “The Island” recently bombed at the domestic box office. Parkes and MacDonald were producers on the film.

In a statement, Geffen said: “Adam Goodman has been an integral part of our production team since the inception of the studio and, over the past year and a half, he has more than proven his capability to lead that team. We are very happy that he plans to continue to spearhead our live-action slate.”

Goodman was promoted to production prexy in February 2004, replacing Michael De Luca. He is responsible for gearing up DreamWorks’ pipeline, which at that point had virtually ground to a halt. Goodman was given more freedom than his predecessors, as Parkes and MacDonald segued from studio execs and producers to solely producers. Most of DreamWorks’ upcoming pics — including “Dreamer,” starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning; “Flags of Our Fathers,” directed by Clint Eastwood; and “Transformers,” based on the Hasbro toys — were put together under Goodman’s watch.

As producers, Parkes and MacDonald’s next movie for DreamWorks is “Just Like Heaven,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. They are also exec producers on “The Kite Runner,” based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini.

Over the next several weeks, Universal will be looking to ascertain the worth of DreamWorks, which some value at $1 billion or more.

One of the company’s biggest assets is Spielberg, whose latest film, “War of the Worlds,” has so far generated $548 million worldwide.

If the deal is completed, U would also gain domestic distribution rights to DreamWorks Animation pics, as well as a distribution fee.

DreamWorks’ library is also valuable, though how valuable is another question for U. The library consists of 60 titles, but many are co-productions with other studios so their revenues are split.

Under the two studios’ existing contract, U distribs DreamWorks pics abroad and handles its homevid titles.

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