DREAMWORKS GEARING UP
DreamWorks SKG is gearing up its film
production unit, according to Peter Bart, editor of Variety,
who visited its temporary offices on the Universal backlot.
DreamWorks is the film company created by
director Steven Spielberg, music producer David Geffen and
former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. It is housed in
Spielberg's Amblin' Productions offices.
Rumors have been circulating that the
company was stillborn, since it hasn't produced any pictures
in its first year of existence. But just recently, it spent
$1 million to buy the movie rights to
"Neanderthal," a Michael Crichton-like novel about
to be published that tells the story of a long-lost tribe of
cave dwellers discovered in a remote area of Russia.
Dreamworks' plans call for it to produce
nine pictures a year at a cost of $400 million per year. The
company has a large number of writers currently developing
scripts. It has raised more than $1 billion through
partnerships and other deals.
But before Dreamworks can start producing
films, Spielberg has to fulfill his Amblin' commitment of
three films next year: "Zorro," directed by Robert
Rodriguez and starring Antonio Banderas, "Men in
Black," an action comedy with Tommy Lee Jones and Will
Smith, and the sequel to "Jurassic Park," which
Spielberg may direct himself. In addition, sequels to
"The Flintstones" and "Casper" may be
owed through Amblin'.
Dreamworks is also building a new studio
facility near Playa Del Rey with sound studios and offices
built around an eight-acre lake in a campus-like setting.
Company executives also recently screened
the first seven minutes of animation of "Prince of
Egypt," its first animated feature film. However, with
many more minutes of complex animation ahead it of, the film
may not be ready until 1999.
Still, Bart points out, the pace of
Dreamworks has increased substantialy over its Amblin' Days.
With phones ringing, visitors coming and going, and staff
members taking numerous meetings, "no one around here is
'amblin' anymore," says one executive. "We're
flat-out running now.