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DreamWorks Returns: Spielberg's Back with ‘I am Number Four’

Steven Spielberg
AP
Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg, may be the biggest name of Hollywood, but he's been keeping a low profile at the box office, which is all about to change.

Last year he was busy shooting a whopping six films, all of which are slated to hit theaters this year.

Today Spielberg and Stacey Snider's restructured DreamWorks Studio launches "I am Number Four,"its first film with new financing from India's Reliance Big Entertainment and distribution for Disney .

"I am Number Four,"produced by Michael Bay, cost an estimated $50 million. It's got plenty of aliens and action and young, unknown rising stars, and just enough romance that it should appeal to both young men and young women. The film has built-in name recognition, since it's based on a bestselling young adult science fiction book. And DreamWorks hopes it's sitting on a massive new franchise — there are are five more books left in the series — with promising new stars.

Alex Pettyfer in scene from movie "I am Number Four".
AP
Alex Pettyfer in scene from movie "I am Number Four".

DreamWorks began piecing together its new business model back in 2009.

In February 2009 it secured a deal with Disney, which will markets and distribute its films, under the Touchstone Label, for a percentage of each movie's gross.

Disney is planning to distribute another four DreamWorks films this year — the fifth, Cowboys and Aliens is a co-production with Universal — and is counting on five to six each year. This is a significant chunk of Disney's total slate; it's planning to distribute just sixteen to eighteen films annually.

And by establishing this distribution relationship with Spielberg it is passing off the capital risk of investing in films while still getting to benefit from the upside.

Reliance Big Entertainment, an Indian entertainment conglomerate, also has a lot to gain if "Number Four" and DreamWorks other films hit it big. In August 2009 Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, parent company of Reliance Big Entertainment and Reliance BIG Pictures agreed to fund DreamWorks. Reliance invested $325 million with J.P. Morgan Securities matching that number with senior debt. Disney is providing $200 million in mezzanine financing.

The number to watch this weekend is $25 million. If "I am Number Four" hits $25 million at the U.S. box office over the long holiday weekend the film will certainly be in the black. If it tops $100 million in its lifecycle we can count on a sequel.

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