The launch of the Amblin Partners venture between Steven Spielberg and Participant Media, Reliance and Entertainment One means a change in the way the filmmaker’s Amblin Television unit has operated for the past seven years.
Amblin Television will now become a division of Amblin Partners. Previously, Spielberg funded the basic operations of Amblin Television out of his own pocket, separate from his financing arrangements with Reliance and distribution pact with Disney. Spielberg took what was then DreamWorks TV out of the mix back in 2008 when the company first partnered with Reliance after splitting from Viacom.
Now, Amblin Television will be part of the broader Amblin Partners venture. Longtime DreamWorks/Amblin execs Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank will remain co-presidents and in charge of driving development and programming pacts for the unit. The company’s recent productions include CBS’ “Under the Dome” and “Extant,” FX’s “The Americans,” TNT’s “Falling Skies,” NBC’s “Smash” and Fox’s short-lived “Minority Report.” Amblin has the HBO adaptation of Bryan Cranston’s “All the Way” coming next year, along with another CBS drama “American Gothic.”
Amblin Television will operate autonomously from Participant Media’s TV efforts and that of eOne. However, the new connection between Amblin an eOne could leader to partnership opportunities down the road, especially with eOne’s strength in international distribution. And now that it is part of the larger venture, Amblin TV may take selected shots at wholly financing its shows in order to maintain control of digital and international rights that are so key to TV series profitability.
At present, Amblin TV does some development on its own but partners with networks and studios for production financing. Amblin commands healthy fees and back-end stakes commensurate with Spielberg’s stature but ultimately does not own the shows it produces. The launch of Amblin Partners should give the TV arm access to the kind of capital that will allow them to invest more in rights at a time when demand for TV programming is booming worldwide.
(Pictured: Justin Falvey, Steven Spielberg and Darryl Frank)