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Spyglass splits

Firm exits D'Works for Sony co-finance deal

Spyglass Entertainment Group, which signed a four-year first-look non-exclusive co-financing and production deal with DreamWorks in December, will move its deal to Sony’s Columbia Pictures.

The deal, which reflects Sony’s appetite for co-financing partners, is the only such deal Sony will house aside from its wide-ranging pact with Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios.

Spyglass co-chairmen and co-CEOs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber moved their deal to DreamWorks last year after being housed at Disney since 1998. Their first release in 1999, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense” grossed $661 million worldwide.

“Spyglass Entertainment is one of the most consistently successful production companies in the industry today,” said Amy Pascal, chairman of Columbia Pictures and vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “From ‘The Sixth Sense’ to “Bruce Almighty’ and ‘Seabiscuit’, Gary and Roger have created a label that attracts the best talent in the business and stands for unparalleled quality.”

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Added Birnbaum and Barber: “We are excited about the prospects of this new strategic alliance. We look forward to producing and co-financing movies with Sony, whose production, marketing and distribution team has a remarkable worldwide record.”

Under the deal, Spyglass will still continue to finance its own development and will not be based on the Sony lot. Company is moving to Murdoch Plaza in Westwood on Friday.

Company recently completed principal photography on “Connie & Carla” starring Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette and on “Mr. 3000” starring Bernie Mac and Angela Bassett for Disney.

Though the move to Sony came as somewhat of a surprise, sources said Spyglass’ deal had never really closed at DreamWorks and that the Spyglass partners were known to be unhappy at the studio in the interim.

No pics were produced or developed under the DreamWorks deal, the first of its kind for the studio, which had previously disdained co-financing partners.

“Some marriages work and some don’t,” Birnbaum and Barber said of the DreamWorks deal. “However, we hope we will continue to do business with them in the future.”

Shingle was not exclusive to DreamWorks and still acted as a co-financing entity at all the studios including Disney where it has some projects set up.

Spyglass recently teamed with Universal on “Bruce Almighty” which has grossed more than $450 million worldwide and then with U and DreamWorks on “Seabiscuit,” which has passed $110 million domestically. Under the latter arrangement U released the pic domestically, with DreamWorks handling some international territories though Spyglass was responsible for most international markets. That deal was inked before Spyglass’ overall deal at the studio.

Spyglass’ other recent releases include the sequel “Shanghai Knights” and the action drama “The Recruit,” starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell.

Sony will release pics domestically and provide distribution in most territories not covered by Spyglass’ output relationships.

Spyglass recently signed a four-year output deal with Village Roadshow to handle distribution of its pics in Australia, New Zealand and Greece. Spyglass’ family of international distributors, also includes Canal Plus for pay TV in French-speaking territories; Pony Canyon in Japan; Lusomundo in Portugal; Forum in Israel and Poland; and Ster Kinekor in South Africa and Telecinco in Spain, Myndform in Iceland and Svensk in Scandinavia.

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