Universal is getting deeper into the Steven Spielberg business and will carry more weight of the films it produces.
Universal and Spielberg’s Amblin Partners are entering into a new pact as part of a multi-year deal, but as part of the new deal, Amblin Partners will no longer fully finance its own films it produces for Universal, and Universal Pictures will provide some support for Amblin Partners films made under the agreement.
Amblin will continue to produce other films with rival studios, such as “West Side Story” at 20th Century or “Ready Player One” at Warner Bros., but Universal will have first-look status on all of Amblin’s film projects.
The idea is to give the company “more creative and financial flexibility,” according to the press release announcing the deal. That should mean more opportunities for adult-oriented projects, like “Green Book” and “1917,” both published by Universal, which Amblin Partners does better, and less financial risk for Amblin to bear. A source explains that it’s a transition from the old model where Universal simply distributed Amblin Partners titles and took a commission, and the new model looks more like your typical blanket deal at first glance.
So while Universal is now carrying more weight, they also share a bigger chunk of the reward if something pops up. That’s good news for both sides, considering Amblin’s last two films under Universal Pictures, Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” and Jo Koy’s “Easter Sunday,” both struggled at the box office ($46 million worldwide). world and $13 million worldwide respectively), despite a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the former.
The source explains that the new deal will also result in some cuts to Amblin Partners in the form of layoffs and other non-renewed contract deals, but Universal is not acquiring Amblin, as has been rumored. Furthermore, nothing is changing within Amblin Television, his agreement with Netflix remains the same and Spielberg will maintain the same autonomy he has had for years to make the films he wants where he wants.
“Universal is the home of my ancestral studio, and this next chapter in our long-standing partnership will provide Amblin with the creative flexibility and autonomy that I know will allow us to succeed together in the future,” said Spielberg, president of Amblin. “I am eternally grateful to our entire Amblin team for their work and dedication over the years, and I am also grateful to Donna and everyone at Universal for their commitment and cooperation, as we look forward to experiencing the our next adventure together.”
News of the strengthened partnership also follows the elevation of Donna Langley, president and chief content officer of NBCUni, to a new role where she will oversee both film and TV for the company, aiming to bring some of those relationships to talent and franchise ideas on the small screen.
“We are thrilled to evolve our partnership with Steven and together cement our creative legacy that has led to so many iconic Universal films over the past half century,” Langley said. “Steven and the team at Amblin have been outstanding partners and we can’t wait for this next chapter.”
Released on August 11 by Universal and Amblin Partners is the horror film “The last voyage of the Demeter”. And the next film from Amblin and Universal is “Distant”, a sci-fi comedy starring Anthony Ramos and directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, which is scheduled for release in 2024. Amblin also has a film set on Netflix by Jaume Collet- Serra called “ Carry On” which does not yet have a release date.