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Spielberg's DreamWorks to split from Disney - Hollywood Reporter

Direcor Steven Spielberg arrives for a meeting the "Past is Present Survivor Gathering" in Krakow January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Lukasz Krajewski/Agencja Gazeta

(Reuters) - DreamWorks Studios, the film company co-founded by Steven Spielberg, will split from Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) after the release of his film, "The BFG," the Hollywood Reporter said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Oscar-winning director's likely future home is Universal and is in talks with the company, the trade publication reported on Wednesday.

Spielberg's take on "The BFG," based on British author Roald Dahl's 1982 book, is scheduled for release on July 1.

A spokeswoman for Disney declined to comment. Universal Studios and DreamWorks did not respond to request for comment.

"The studio would welcome the chance to be DreamWorks' distribution partner" but any deal is premature, a source at Universal was quoted as saying by the Hollywood Reporter.

Disney Studios signed a long-term, exclusive agreement with DreamWorks Studios in 2009 to distribute live-action films produced by DreamWorks under the Touchstone Pictures banner for which Disney receives a distribution fee.

Media reports at the time said Disney would earn at least an 8 percent fee off the box office gross of DreamWorks films, and would lend the studio $150 million. But Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook told Reuters at the time that those numbers were off the mark. (http://reut.rs/1IKpeoK)

Cook had said that his unit would market and distribute about six films each year for DreamWorks.

Under the agreement, which is set to expire in 2016, Disney distributed 11 films and provided loans to DreamWorks totalling $156 million as of September last year.

In the third quarter ended June 27, there were no DreamWorks titles released, compared with three releases a year earlier, Disney said last month.

Universal Pictures became the fastest studio to hit $2 billion at the box office in a calendar year in June, buoyed by the success of "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Furious 7" and "Pitch Perfect 2."

Comcast Corp's (CMCSA.O) Universal Pictures said in July that a sequel to "Jurassic World" is slated for a 2018 release.

"Jurassic World," which rebooted Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" dinosaur franchise, has become the third highest-grossing film in history, behind James Cameron's "Titanic" and "Avatar."

DreamWorks turned to Disney late in 2008 when Universal balked at its demand for more upfront money and fees from Universal's TV distribution pact with HBO, a source close to the matter had told Reuters.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)