Those movies played a pivotal role in a turnaround for Paramount, which had few projects in the pipeline when Grey took over in early 2005, and came at a time when some of Paramount's own films, including "Stardust" and "Zodiac," were costly flops. Not all of DreamWorks' movies worked, either. Three films lost significant money: "Things We Lost in the Fire," "The Heartbreak Kid" and Clint Eastwood's war drama "Flags of Our Fathers," which left Paramount and financing partner Warner Bros. about $40 million in the red.
Once Geffen began telegraphing his unhappiness with Paramount, the handwriting was on the wall. Geffen, Spielberg and Katzenberg, who runs the separate and publicly traded DreamWorks Animation, were livid last fall when Viacom Chief Executive Phillippe Dauman told investors that the financial effect of losing DreamWorks would be "completely immaterial."
On Wednesday, media analyst Harold Vogel echoed those remarks. "For Viacom, it will not look good officially because Spielberg is such an important filmmaker, but it may not make all that much difference in the long run," Vogel said. "Viacom's investors will be focused on what happens with the current Paramount management and their ability to generate their own projects and create their own legacy."