Universal restructures costly Spielberg contract

Universal Orlando has renegotiated a contract with director Steven Spielberg that could've crippled the company.

The director has received a percentage of the resort company's gross revenue since 1987 for films that inspired several park rides, consulting and allowing his name in promotional materials.

The payments have averaged about $20 million a year, but Spielberg had an option to take the rest in a one-time payment in 2010. Analysts estimated it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The company, owned by a unit of General Electric Co. and private-equity firm The Blackstone Group, couldn't afford the buyout. Universal is already trying to restructure nearly $1 billion in debt due in April.

The new Spielberg contract now pushes the director's call option to 2017.