Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios is reportedly parting ways with Disney.
The two companies had a deal in which Disney distributed DreamWorks pictues, but a 2016 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book “The BFG,” directed by Spielberg, will be the final movie distributed under the current strategy.
The most likely studio to take over Disney's distribution role is reportedly Universal, where DreamWorks had its home until 2005.
Spielberg founded DreamWorks with former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, who produced such films as the 1980s movie version of the musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” DreamWorks Animation is currently run as a separate venture. DreamWorks Animation is a rival to Disney, releasing such animated hits as the “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Kung Fu Panda” film series.
Spielberg’s new movie “Bridge of Spies,” which stars Tom Hanks and tells the story of a lawyer who becomes involved in the Cold War, is set to be released this October. Recent DreamWorks Studios productions include the recent Spielberg hits “Lincoln" and “War Horse” as well as the movie “The Help,” though it’s also had misfires like “Delivery Man” and the movie “Need for Speed.”
While the public of course doesn’t know the details of why DreamWorks and Disney are ending their deal, the move is interesting in the wake of Spielberg’s comments about superhero movies. Disney recently purchased Marvel Entertainment, which has released some of the biggest superhero movie hits of the last decades like “The Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” and is currently the superhero film entity to beat.
Spielberg recently said of superhero films, “We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn't mean there won't be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.”
Will others in the industry heed Spielberg’s words? A comic book movie has been in the top five domestically highest-grossing films of the year since 2012 and right now, studios are betting big on superheroes. Marvel is planning two movies for 2016, three for 2017, and three for 2018. Warner Bros. is planning two for 2016, two for 2017, and two for 2018.
As for the Western, we actually have one this year – Quentin Tarantino’s film “The Hateful Eight,” which takes place in Wyoming after the Civil War, is coming out at the end of this year and the genre has seen such recent successes as 2007’s “3:10 to Yuma” and 2010’s “True Grit.”