Anil Ambani, Spielberg secure $825 mn for DreamWorks

New York, Aug 18 (IANS) The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group has sealed its $825-million deal with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios with investment banker JP Morgan syndicating $325 million debt, the two groups announced late Monday.

Anil Ambani's Reliance Big Entertainment has matched the syndicated debt raised from JP Morgan and institutions like Bank of America, City National Bank, Wells Fargo, Comerica, Union Bank of California, SunTrust, California Bank and Trust and Israel Discount Bank.

This apart, Walt Disney Studios that will handle the marketing and distribution of films made by DreamWorks in markets outside India, is also extending a loan for the project, a statement from the studio said.

"This will allow us to move ahead quickly into production with our first group of films," Spielberg was quoted as saying in the statement, along with his long-time associate and partner in the project Stacey Snider.

The studio intends to make five-six films each year.

"Our partnership with Stacey and Steven is the cornerstone of our Hollywood strategy as we grow our film interests across the globe," said Ambani, who had been in talks with Dreamworks for over a year.

"Given our faith in the business plan they presented to us and despite the current economic climate, we were always confident this day would come. Now Stacey and Steven can focus on producing more of the great films for which they are renowned."

Among the first films in the pipeline are one on civil rights leader Martin Luther King for which Spielberg has already obtained the rights, and a remake of the Hollywood classic "Harvey" that stars James Stewart and an invisible giant bunny.

Some of the other films include "39 Clues", "Cowboys and Aliens", "Dinner For Schmucks", "Motorcade" and "Hereafter" in a mix of genres including thrillers, action, comedy and family drama.

The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group ranks among India's top three industrial houses with interests in areas including telecommunications, energy, finance, entertainment and infrastructure development.

The group's entertainment business owns 428 cinema screens across India, the US, Malaysia and Mauritius, contributing 11 percent to the domestic industry's box office collections and 35 percent from the Hindi movies screened in the US.

Its entertainment business has its presence across several platforms, including FM radio, music, sports, gaming, animation, Internet and mobile portals, direct-to-home TV, Internet TV and mobile TV.

Last year, it also entered into pacts to develop Hollywood projects with firms of such stars as Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey and George Clooney.

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