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Spielberg gets movie cash with India partnership

  • Story Highlights
  • Steven Spielberg finalizes partnership with Indian tycoon, gets cash infusion
  • Partnership with Anil Ambani provides $875 million for DreamWorks
  • Spielberg's first film planned: remake of classic "Harvey"
By Alan Duke
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Financing for DreamWorks Studios' partnership with one of India's richest men was finalized Monday, giving Steven Spielberg and partner Stacey Snider money to resume making movies.

Steven Spielberg's partnership will allow him to "move ahead quickly into production" with new films, he said.

From left to right, Steven Spielberg, Anil Ambani, Stacey Snider and Amitahb Jhunjhunwala.

The deal with Anil Ambani, chairman of India's Reliance BIG Entertainment, provides Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios with $875 million, coming from Ambani, the Walt Disney Co. and loans made by a syndicate of banks.

Disney will distribute and market about six DreamWorks Studios films around the world each year, with the exception of India, where Reliance will have those rights.

Spielberg and Snider found themselves in need of financial partners last year when he cut ties with Paramount Pictures and began rebuilding DreamWorks into an independent studio.

Although the deal, which was announced last year, has been characterized in some reports as "Hollywood meets Bollywood," Spielberg and partner Stacey Snider will have creative control over productions.

"This will allow us to move ahead quickly into production with our first group of films," Snider and Spielberg said in a joint statement.

Reliance BIG Entertainment is part of the Reliance group controlled by billionaire Ambani.

"Our partnership with Stacey and Steven is the cornerstone of our Hollywood strategy as we grow our film interests across the globe," Ambani said. "Given our faith in the business plan that they presented to us and despite the current economic climate, we were always confident that this day would come. Now Stacey and Steven can focus on producing more of the great films for which they are renowned."

Ambani, whose company owns hundreds of theater screens across South Asia, has also invested development money this year with other Hollywood production companies, including those owned by actors Nicolas Cage, Tom Hanks, George Clooney and Jim Carrey.

A DreamWorks announcement said that J.P. Morgan brought together the syndicate of banks to provide about $325 million in funding. The banks include Bank of America, City National Bank, Wells Fargo, Comerica, Union Bank of California, SunTrust, California Bank & Trust, and Israel Discount Bank.

One of the first movies to go into production will be "Harvey," an adaptation of the play that won a Pulitzer for playwright Mary Chase. The tale about a man and his invisible bunny friend was first made into a movie, starring Jimmy Stewart, in 1950.

Spielberg's long career as a screenwriter, director and producer has included classic blockbusters "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial," the "Indiana Jones" series and "Saving Private Ryan."

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