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DreamWorks-Universal talks end amid price, creative differences

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ DreamWorks ended talks on what could have been a $1 billion acquisition deal by NBC Universal amid disagreements about price and creative control, DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen said Tuesday.

DreamWorks SKG, which includes Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg among its founders, had granted NBC Universal an exclusive two-month negotiating period.

Both sides previously expressed optimism about the deal that fell apart on Monday. The negotiating period was set to expire Friday.

``We had come to terms with them on price, and there were a million things that needed to be settled,'' said Geffen, who led the talks for DreamWorks.

``At the very end, they tried to readjust the price, albeit for less than 10 percent,'' he said. ``People had more time to rethink the thing.''

Geffen said Spielberg was used to ``having his own company and doing things exactly the way he'd want and not consulting with others.''

Messages left Tuesday with General Electric Co.. the parent of NBC Universal were not immediately returned.

DreamWorks, founded in 1994, has made such hit movies as ``American Beauty'' and ``Gladiator.'' But in recent years, it has scaled back, abandoning efforts to build a high-tech studio, selling off its music division and canceling its TV production.

Geffen declined to elaborate on what creative issues were under discussion. Negotiations with Universal could eventually resume, but DreamWorks is now free to consider other offers.

Universal may have been somewhat skittish by recent disappointing DreamWorks releases, including sci-fi thriller ``The Island,'' and the romantic comedy ``Just Like Heaven,'' Geffen said.

The deal would have given Universal control of DreamWorks' live-action film studio, including its 60-title library. But the talks didn't include its animation unit, which was split off in a public stock offering last year.

The deal also would have given Universal a pipeline to new films by the ever-popular Spielberg.

Universal had a strong incentive to complete the deal with DreamWorks, which provided more than a third of its domestic box office business and about 70 percent of Universal's international theatrical release business so far this year.
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