CEO helps negotiate new chapter for mini-major

Stacey Snider, co-chairman/ CEO of DreamWorks Studios, entered a new phase of her illustrious career late this summer, as a key player in raising some $825 million the studio needs to make movies.

Snider and director Steven Spielberg, a colleague and collaborator for years, inked a preliminary deal with giant Indian conglomerate the Reliance Group back in 2008 to form the new DreamWorks, a continuation of the studio founded in 1984 by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

DreamWorks had been acquired by Paramount in 2005 and Spielberg brought Snider onboard the following year. The two ankled the Viacom-owned studio in late 2008 to partner with Reliance.

Economic times being what they are, financing the new DreamWorks was a challenge. The deal took flight in August when the partners announced they’d completed initial funding for loans of $325 million, arranged by JPMorgan, which Reliance would match with an equity investment through its showbiz subsidiary Reliance Big Entertainment.

It’s one of the most sweeping alliances of an independent U.S. studio with a major overseas partner — and a first with an Indian backer. That it was achieved at all in such rocky markets is testament to Spielberg’s and Snider’s cachet.

Separately, the Walt Disney Studios, which will market and distribute DreamWorks films, also agreed to extend a loan.

As Reliance chairman Anil Dhirubhai Ambani puts it: “Now Steven and Stacey can focus on producing more of the great films for which they are renowned.”

Since Snider joined DreamWorks, releases have included an eclectic mix of films from Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” to “Dreamgirls,” “The Kite Runner,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Transformers,” “Tropic Thunder” and “Revolutionary Road.” A number were co-produced with other studios.

Snider came to DreamWorks from the top job at Universal Studios, where she originated the “Bourne,” “Mummy” and “American Pie” franchises and turned out critically acclaimed pics like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Ray,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Seabiscuit” and “Lost in Translation.”

She moved to the smaller DreamWorks because, she said at the time, “I wanted to be more directly involved in making movies.”

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