Sources confirm that talks have faltered between Comcast and DreamWorks chief executive Stacey Snider in a deal that would have put Snider in charge of the Universal film studio and provided a new home for Steven Spielberg and the DreamWorks production company.
Comcast is said to have found the complexity of striking a deal too great given that DreamWorks would have to be extricated from its relationship with Indian giant Reliance, which finances the company, and with Disney, which distributes its films.
Sources said Snider and Spielberg may have at one point entertained a "romantic notion" about returning to Universal, where Spielberg got his start and Snider had previously been chairman of the film studio. But as the conversation with Comcast dragged on, misgivings arose about their loss of independence.
The decision leaves a sense of uncertainty going forward at Universal. The conversation with DreamWorks spawned reports in the media that Universal president and COO Ron Meyer might have been moved to an advisory job before his contract expires in 2015 and that a studio shakeup might have been in the works.
Universal Pictures has had mixed results, scoring with the comedy Ted but generating an operating loss of $83 million in the quarter that ended June 30, thanks in part to the failure of Battleship.