BIG Dreams in the Works

Making his Hollywood debut, Anil Ambani is set to invest around $825 million as a first tranche towards making six films a year for global audiences. In one of the largest deals in global cinema in recent times, Ambani has teamed up with noted Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg for their Los Angelesbased production house, Dreamworks Studios. In a late-evening global conference call from New York, Ambani and Spielberg said the movies produced by Dreamworks would be be distributed by Walt Disney globally, while the exclusive rights for India, ‘‘including DTH, DVD and theatre rights'', would rest with Reliance Big Entertainment. Anil Ambani said $325 million would come from his personal contribution, ‘‘$150 million would be chipped in by Disney and the rest would be with banks and institutions.'' ‘‘Clearly, the outlay of $825 million is what we are aiming at in the next three years: $325 million will be in the form of equity,'' Ambani said. Reacting to suggestions that an investment outlay of over $1.5 billion for Dreamworks was on the cards, Ambani said, ‘‘There is no scaling up or scaling down of investment. We will begin with $825 million and this is the largest in recent times.'' The first DreamWorks motion picture to be released under the Touchstone Pictures banner is scheduled to hit theatres by 2010. Ambani also announced that his associate Amitabh Jhunjhunwala and Spielberg's partner for decades Stacey Snider, who has been associated with projects like ‘Eric Brockovich', ‘The Mummy' and ‘American Pie', would also serve on the Dreamworks board. He added that even though Reliance Big Entertainment was a private enterprise, he was not averse to listing it on the capital markets at an appropriate time. Spielberg said he was looking forward to visiting India to meet up with filmmakers. ‘‘This venture with Reliance opens a new door to our future,'' he said. ‘‘Their visionary step has given us a new set of dreams to work toward.'' Ambani said: ‘‘We are delighted to partner with such talented individuals as Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider. Ever since we looked at their business plan, I have never doubted that we would succeed in providing them with financial muscle.”

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