DreamWorks/Reliance deal finalized

Indian businessman Anil Ambani, CEO of the huge Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, and the sixth richest man in the world, recently flew to Los Angeles to finalize the deal between his company and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks, investing more than five hundred million dollars in the American company, thus enabling it to gain its independence and become a full-fledged movie studio.

JPMorgan Chase will provide up to $700 million in financing for the deal, with Reliance providing an additional $550 million, according to The Times of India.

Current DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider will continue his duties for the new studio which will start operations in January and is expected to continue being called DreamWorks. The deal comes after Spielberg & co decided to end their unhappy partnership with Paramount Pictures at the end of their contracts.

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Took them long enough: Disturbia getting sued

Nearly everyone with an ounce of movie culture calls Disturbia a Rear Window remake when talking about the 2007 surprise hit film, despite the fact that it isn’t, at least officially. Now, more than a year later, Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, the owners of Murder From A Fixed Viewpoint (the Cornell Woolrich short story that served as the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film) have taken notice and are finally suing Universal Pictures and DreamWorks for copyright infringement. While Disturbia is a good movie, all I can say is, it’s about time!

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Tom Cruise might voice new Shrek villain (maybe)

Controversial superstar Tom Cruise (real name Thomas Cruise Mapother IV) is apparently being considered as the voice of one of the villains of the forthcoming animated sequel Shrek Goes Fourth, according to rumors. This is plausible because the Shrek franchise has attracted many names for its first three outings and Cruise enjoys a good relationship with DreamWorks.

Shrek Goes Fourth will be released in 2010. You can catch Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder right now in theaters. His next movie, the World War II drama/thriller Valkyrie will premiere in December.

DreamWorks Animation to make new superhero flick, is kinda late to the party

DreamWorks Animation and Disney/Pixar are usually pretty close when it comes to similar concepts, with AntZ/A Bug’s Life, Shrek/Monsters, Inc., Shark Tale/Finding Nemo,… But DreamWorks is running late this time as their animated superhero film Master Mind will come out six years later than Disney’s The Incredibles, which came out in 2004.

Master Mind is to be directed by former Disney man Gary Trousdale (Atlantis: The Lost Empire), and while the voice cast hasn’t been set, Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder) and Tina Fey (NBC’s 30 Rock) are in negotiations. It will be a satirical take on superhero films (how trendy!) and will feature a supervillain losing his pizzaz after killing his enemy (aka the superhero).

DreamWorks Animation are known to play up the easy laughs as opposed to the heart and long-lasting appeal the Disney/Pixar movies have, so don’t expect this to be nearly as good as The Incredibles. That said, you can look out for Master Mind in the winter of 2010.

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Paramount Famous Prods. created, slew of DTV sequels to ensue

Paramount is renaming its straight-to-dvd division. The goods news? Prepare for Without A Paddle: Nature’s Calling, Road Trip 2: Still Trippin’, Mean Girls 2: Meaner Girls, Bad News Bears 2: More Bad News and Naked Gun 1/4: Can’t Get More Naked Than This and Grease 3.  The bad news? They’re calling it “Paramount Famous Productions”. Seriously is that the stupidest name for a movie company or what? Nikki Finke reports:

The newly christened Paramount Famous Productions has been actively developing an inaugural production slate. Now PFP prez Louis Feola says that, starting in 2010, the division expects to release 5 to 6 films annually with titles to encompass a mix of sequels, prequels and remakes based on the libraries of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, DreamWorks Pictures, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. PFP also wants to work closely with Viacom-owned cable networks such as BET, Comedy Central and Spike TV to develop filmed entertainment content.

Louis Feola used to have the same job over at Universal which means he’s the guy we should thank for all those American Pie and Bring It On sequels. I don’t have anything against straight-to-dvd sequels really, but this batch seems pretty uninteresting. Grease 3 will probably be a High School Musical ripoff, Mean Girls 2 will probably be watchable as long as they get some hot girls, and they better get Leslie Nielsen for Naked Gun 4, for obvious reasons. Mr Feola, if you’re reading this, how about The Haunting 2? Here’s a movie which can easily be better than the original!

So, what films from the Paramount family would be a good fit for straight-to-dvd sequel goodness? Discuss!

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