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DreamWorks Suffers as Steven Spielberg Spreads Himself Too Thin

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg (AP)

Steven Spielberg might be spreading his talents a little too thin these days.

The usually golden producer/director, currently involved as producer or executive producer on no fewer than 18 movie and television projects, has been rolling out relative dogs of late, and some in Tinseltown are saying his DreamWorks Studios is suffering from his heavy workload, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

The latest example of Spielberg's downturn is "Cowboys and Aliens," the megabudget, $163 million release that hit theaters last week -- and was all but ignored by the public, pulling in a very underwhelming $36.4 million in its debut weekend.

The film, which garnered generally positive reviews, was one of the most expensive productions to come from DreamWorks, run by Spielberg and his partner, Stacey Snider.

Some rival studio executives, noting that DreamWorks financed 50 percent of the cost -- with Universal and Relativity paying for the rest -- said Spielberg's studio could lose as much as $25 million on the expensive thriller, based on projections off the weak opening.

A movie industry source said, "Steven's last movies were 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' and 'Super 8'; you can't argue with the success of those. The bigger problem is [his company] DreamWorks."

Fresh out of a restructuring last year, with funding in hand from Indian media conglomerate Reliance and a new distribution deal with Disney, DreamWorks struck out with renewed enthusiasm.

The results have been less than stellar.

"Their first movie was 'Dinner for Schmucks,' then 'I Am Number Four' and 'Cowboys and Aliens,' and right now they are zero-for-three," said one Hollywood source, speaking about the box office take versus the expected performance of the films.

DreamWorks' next offering, in October, is "Reel Steal," a really big bet in that its budget, according to studio chatter, is $120 million.

DreamWorks claims the budget is $100 million. "They don't want four big [disappointments]," said the Hollywood source.

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