Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks studio will start production on its first films by May after buying 17 projects from Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

DreamWorks confirmed the purchase today in an e-mailed statement. Spielberg and Reliance Entertainment Pvt. are paying $26.5 million, said two people, who asked not to be named because terms aren't public. Spielberg paid half, with the remainder from Mumbai-based Reliance.

The director and Reliance are covering DreamWorks' start-up costs until a $350 million loan is syndicated by JPMorgan Chase & Co. within the next three months, one of the people said. Reliance will match the debt with equity, including $200 million more in future rounds. The studio is seeking less than its initial goal of $1.3 billion because of market conditions.

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