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DreamWorks off ‘Geisha’ pic

Project too small to require co-production

NEW YORK — In a surprising move, DreamWorks has withdrawn from co-financing Steven Spielberg’s next directorial project, “Memoirs of a Geisha,” based on the bestseller by Arthur Golden.

The film had been planned as a co-venture with Columbia Pictures under producer Doug Wick. Sony would have taken domestic rights and DreamWorks international rights.

During last week’s Cannes film festival, however, Columbia’s theatrical staff was apparently informed that it would be handling foreign rights, too.

Sources close to DreamWorks said the picture — with no major stars attached — was simply too modest to necessitate a co-production arrangement.

DreamWorks has a first option on all Spielberg projects. His next picture, “Saving Private Ryan,” will be released by Paramount and DreamWorks.