Studio shifting to independent distribution overseas

DreamWorks Studios has reached output deals for covering key European markets and the Middle East as part of its shift toward indie distribution on the international front.

DreamWorks made the announcements Monday, three weeks after the studio first announced it would shift away from using the Walt Disney Co. — under which it pays a flat distribution fee — for some of its foreign distribution, with David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment brokering the partnership deals. Under the new arrangements, DreamWorks will receive a minimum guarantee from the distributor for each film, thus smoothing out cash flow for Dreamworks.

DreamWorks agreed Sunday to a four-year output deal with Entertainment One (eOne) for the U.K. and Benelux. Multiyear deals announced Monday include Italia Film for the Middle East; Nordisk Film for Scandinavia; and Constantin Film for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

It said other partnerships will be announced over the days and weeks ahead. Disney remains DreamWorks’ domestic distributor and will continue to handle North America, Latin America, Asia, Russia and Australia; India-based financer Reliance holds distribution rights in India.

“These deals signal the first phase of DreamWorks’ plans to create a network of partnerships for their product across all of Europe, Africa and the Middle East with the top independent distributors,” DreamWorks said. “This strategy will provide the company with additional financial flexibility, while also taking advantage of a burgeoning global market.”

First film on the new slate to go into production will be the remake of French-Canadian film “Starbuck,” starring Vince Vaughn. It begins shooting next month for release in 2013.

The deals were sealed during the Toronto Film Festival. Garrett said the conclusion of these “very complex” deals reflected the high level of enthusiasm in the international marketplace for DreamWorks’ product and for exploring new ways to collaborate in production and distribution.

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