It appears that Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Pictures might split with Paramount, perhaps largely because the Los Angeles public premiere of Zodiac was canceled at the last minute. "I was really looking forward to that Jake Watch post," Spielberg told reporters at a press conference earlier today, "They ruined it for everyone. How else is a person like me supposed to get a free 'I'm stalking Jake!' button?" Spielberg was of course referring to the wildly popular news organization that you are currently experiencing, famous for its accurate reporting and unmatched ability to capture exclusive quotes from famous people in the entertainment industry. Jake Watch readers may remember that DreamWorks produced the Jake Watch hit movie, The Day After Tomorrow Never Dies (TDATND) and the film's director, Prophecy Girl, received hands-on consulting from Spielberg during the bulk of filming.
However, the situation may be slightly more complicated than Spielberg let on. From BusinessWeek's coverage of the story: "People close to Spielberg say he is vexed that Paramount has treated [Jake Watch] shabbily and grabbed credit for [Jake Watch] productions [including the live-action version of Underdog.* It's a little-kept industry secret that the original plot of The Day After Tomorrow Never Dies made reference to a Jake Watch picture (Underdog) being considered as a catalyst for a career in children's movies for Jake Gyllenhaal (photographed below during a costume fitting).It was also no secret that Paramount's big Jake film of the year, Zodiac, was in stiff competition with TDATND. Not only did Paramount push Zodiac's release date further and further back until it was scheduled exactly one month after TDATND, presumably to play off the fervor created by the JW movie, but it appears they also began production of their own Underdog movie soon after the JW team put their version aside. Spielberg, who was slated to direct the JW version of the wacky dog comedy, expressed disappointment when the project was pushed off Jake Watch's schedule, presumably because Gyllenhaal's Presidential campaigning spread resources within the industry giant too thin to continue its production. Just this past weekend, Paramount's version of Underdog started being advertised on televisions across America**, and the rumors about a possible split between Spielberg and Paramount coming in conjunction with the advertising campaign is likely no coincidence.] If Spielberg were to leave, says a person [who is writing this story], he could take several of his hitmakers [i.e. Jake Watch] and the DreamWorks name with him. [Either way, Jake Watch will make no money off the live-action Underdog film, though the concept was widely regarded as JW's intellectual property.]"
Paramount, of course, is denying the split, any wrongdoing, and any knowledge of the inescapably painful Underdog. But in light of the complicated backstory, it seems that Spielberg's anger over the Zodiac premiere may have been just the out he needed to break off the painful relationship.
(BusinessWeek is not responsible for material contained in the brackets as it may have been creatively interpreted by our editors; for instance, if you were going to use "facts," then Underdog is actually a Buena Vista Production, and not part of Paramount Pictures. But aren't all movie studios eventually connected somewhere along the line?)
* Actual quote from the old JW Forum by Jla (we miss you!) June 30, 2006: It's clearly apparent to us that making this movie would be career suicide! The super hero has to be completely ludicrous like a live-action version of Underdog, complete with Jake in a dog costume and cape.
** This is true.
And thank you AgentLola for finding this article!