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NBC Universal in talks to buy DreamWorks

NBC Universal is in talks to buy the privately held live-action film studio DreamWorks SKG, according to news reports Thursday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

NBC Universal is in talks to buy the privately held live-action film studio DreamWorks SKG, according to news reports Thursday.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Thursday that Universal was considering acquiring the studio founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The New York Post first reported the talks on Wednesday.

The board of General Electric Co., which owns NBC Universal, is scheduled to meet Friday but it’s unclear how much the company would be willing to pay for DreamWorks.

Calls left early Thursday to both DreamWorks and NBC Universal were not immediately returned.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the animation studio that was spun off last year, is reportedly not a part of the discussions, but Universal would have the right to distribute future cartoon tiles from the company that created “Shrek,” the Journal reported.

DreamWorks has created such movies as “American Beauty” and “Gladiator,” but the studio has scaled back its plans over the years. It abandoned plans to build a high-tech studio lot in Los Angeles in 1999, sold its music division in 2004 and has curtailed its TV production.

Universal, along with Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, is considering a possible breakup of United International Pictures, the overseas movie distribution apparatus they jointly own. UIP also distributes DreamWorks SKG’s films overseas.

Dismantling the company would allow both studios to establish their own international distribution operations, which is considered an important source of revenue.

A decision could be made by the end of the year.