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Disney strikes deal with DreamWorks

  • Story Highlights
  • Disney will distribute DreamWorks live-action films
  • DreamWorks has agreement with India's Reliance BIG Entertainment
  • Plan will help bring India's Bollywood productions together with Hollywood studios
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Walt Disney Studios has reached a distribution deal with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios, the companies announced Monday.

Disney will market at least six DreamWorks live-action movies each year produced through DreamWorks' agreement with India's Reliance BIG Entertainment, a major producer of Bollywood film, they said.

The Disney deal replaces an agreement DreamWorks announced last year with Universal that fell apart in recent weeks.

The announcement did not reveal terms, but industry media reports said the Universal deal collapsed when DreamWorks asked for cash to help finance the movies to be made under the Reliance contract.

DreamWorks found itself short of financing because of the global economic crunch, according to Michael Cerenzie, a film financier and producer.

The studio could not borrow the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to produce films, partly because much of its archives and intellectual property -- which would have served as collateral for loans -- was left behind at Paramount Studios, whose parent company bought DreamWorks in 2006.

Paramount still distributes DreamWorks' animation features.

Reliance will handle distribution of the movies in India.

The first movie to be distributed under the deal is expected to reach theaters next year, the companies said.

"Disney is the birthplace of imagination and has always been as close to the worldwide audience as any company ever has," Spielberg said.

Ironically, DreamWorks was born in 1994 after Disney excutive Jeffrey Katzenberg was passed over for promotion to president of Disney. Katzenberg resigned and then formed DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

The DreamWorks-Reliance-Disney agreement is a major step in bringing India's huge "Bollywood" industry together to Hollywood studios.

BIG Pictures has development arrangements with several production companies, including those affiliated with performers Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, George Clooney and Tom Hanks.

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