It's Always the Kids Who Suffer Most in a Vengeful Studio Divorce

Despite the defiant source who today told the LA Times the DreamWorks/Reliance deal could yet fall apart, we think we'll just go about retrofitting our office anyway in preparation for the worst. Like "custody battle" worst, as Claudia Eller mentions in parsing the 'Works divorce from Viacom/Paramount: Who gets Ben Stiller? Who gets Eddie Murphy? Who gets the retiring David Geffen's parking space and the office's unparalleled catalog of faxable lunch menus? And who gets the movies?

In a nutshell, Eller writes, the scenario works like this:

Untangling the rights to various properties could be tricky. Steven Spielberg has attached himself as a producer to at least 30 DreamWorks projects, which Paramount will not be able to make unless it pays him substantial fees. The filmmaker is guaranteed 7.5% of every box-office dollar collected by Paramount until the movie breaks even. Once the studio recovers its cost and earns a distribution fee, Spielberg is then entitled to 50% of the film's profit.

And that's not even the worst part for the 'Mount: Take away Marvel's Iron Man, DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda, and DreamWorks' Tropic Thunder, and the only internally developed films in Paramount's Blockbuster Class of '08 are Indy 4 (directed by Spielberg) and The Love Guru (an abomination to God and man). What's in the pipeline if it sheds the 'Works? Benjamin Button? Star Trek? Mission: Impossible 4 (maybe)?

Moreover, will Brad Grey be as quick to claim credit for Paramount's future misfires as he was for DreamWorks' successes? Or will he even be around long enough to pat himself on the back for Untitled Wayans Brothers Comedy? Come to think of it, we kind of wish these guys would stay together for the children.