Imagemovers stands its ground

Zemeckis and co. extending D'Works pact

Imagemovers is staying put at DreamWorks.

After seriously flirting with a new pact at Warner Bros. (Daily Variety, Dec. 28), the company’s triumvirate of Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey has signed on at DreamWorks for at least another four years, a key source said.

Deal keeps Zemeckis in business with longtime pal and DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg, who actively lobbied to prevent Imagemovers from packing its bags.

The pair teamed on an array of productions over the years, many of them successful, but the current five-year deal has yielded only “Cast Away” and “What Lies Beneath.” Both were helmed by Zemeckis, and while both hit big, they were shared-pot deals with Fox.

The producers have developed a lot of other projects during their first term at DreamWorks, but it is unclear whether any of them will get made soon.

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The no-go at Warners comes when Zemeckis and partners have two high-profile projects that will be distributed by that studio. Zemeckis is rejoining “Cast Away” cohorts Tom Hanks and scribe William Broyles in “Polar Express,” a mix of CGI animation and live-action that Zemeckis will direct. Hanks’ Playtone is developing the project at Castle Rock.

Another Imagemovers project at Warner Bros., the adaptation of Eric Garcia’s novel “Matchstick Men,” has just crystallized as the next directing project for Ridley Scott.

Neither Imagemovers nor DreamWorks would comment on the new deal or why the once-certain WB pact came undone.

The most prevalent theory is that Imagemovers’ pricey overhead deal left WB brass choking. Other sources pointed to Zemeckis’ tie with Spielberg, who has been working with the director since the latter was a film student at USC.

Their relationship extended to the profitable “Back to the Future” trilogy, which Zemeckis directed for Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment at Universal. After signing on with the nascent DreamWorks, Imagemovers was built an expensive bungalow of offices in Amblin’s U lot headquarters.