DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (DWA, formerly DreamWorks Animation L.L.C.) is an American animation studio based in Glendale, California, that creates animated feature films, television programs and online virtual worlds. The studio has released a total of 34 feature films, including the franchises of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Monsters vs. Aliens, and The Croods.
The studio was formed by the merger of the feature animation division of DreamWorks and Pacific Data Images (PDI). Originally formed under the banner of DreamWorks in 1997 by some of Amblin Entertainment's former animation branch Amblimation alumni, it was spun off into a separate public company in 2004. DreamWorks Animation currently maintains its Glendale campus, as well as satellite studios in India and China. On August 22, 2016, NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, making it a division of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
As of April 2016, its feature films have grossed $13.48 billion worldwide, with a $421.4 million average gross per film. Shrek 2 is among the 50 highest-grossing films of all time, and fourteen of the films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films, with Shrek 2 being the eighth all-time highest. Although the studio also made traditionally animated films in the past, as well as a co-production with Aardman Animations, all of their films now use computer animation. The studio has so far received three Academy Awards, as well as 22 Emmy and numerous Annie Awards, as well as multiple Golden Globe & BAFTA nominations. In recent years, the animation studio has acquired and created new divisions in an effort to diversify beyond the high-risk movie business. Films produced by DreamWorks Animation were formerly distributed worldwide by the live-action DreamWorks studio, then by Paramount Pictures (who acquired the live-action DreamWorks studio in February 2006, and spun it off again in 2008). In early 2013, 20th Century Fox took over a theatrical distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation films starting in March 22, 2013 with The Croods and onwards and end in late 2017.
DreamWorks SKG era (1994-2004)
On October 12, 1994, a trio of entertainment players, director and producer Steven Spielberg, music executive David Geffen, and former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, founded DreamWorks SKG. To build the talent base, Spielberg brought over artists from his London-based studio, Amblimation, while Katzenberg recruited some of the top animation staff from Disney. Some of Amblimation's artists came to DreamWorks in 1995, when the studio's last feature was completed, with the rest doing so following the studio's closure in 1997.
In 1995, DreamWorks signed a co-production deal with Pacific Data Images to form subsidiary PDI, LLC (PDI owned 60% of PDI, LLC, while DreamWorks SKG owned 40%). This new unit would produce computer-generated feature films, beginning with Antz in 1998. In the same year, DreamWorks SKG produced The Prince of Egypt, which used both CGI technology and traditional animation techniques.
In 1997, DreamWorks partnered with Aardman Animations, a British stop-motion animation studio, to co-produce and distribute Chicken Run, a stop-motion film already in pre-production. Two years later, they extended the deal for an additional four films. With Aardman doing stop-motion, they covered all three major styles, besides traditional and computer animation. This partnership had DreamWorks participating in the production of stop-motion films in Bristol, and also had Aardman participating in some of the CGI films made in the United States.
Three years later, DreamWorks SKG created DreamWorks Animation, a new business division that would regularly produce both types of animated feature films. The same year DW acquired majority interest (90%) in PDI, and reformed into PDI/DreamWorks, the Northern California branch of its new business division. In 2001, Shrek was released and went on to win the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Due to the success of CGI animated films, DWA decided to exit hand-drawn animation business after the next two of four hand-drawn films. Beginning with Shrek 2, all released films, other than some co-produced with Aardman, were expected to be produced with CGI. The releases of Shrek 2 and Shark Tale also made DWA the first studio to produce two CGI animated features in a single year.
Public corporation (2004-2016)
The animation division was spun off into a publicly traded company named DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. on October 27, 2004. Katzenberg headed the new division, while Spielberg and Geffen remained on board as investors and consultants. DWA also inherited interests in PDI/DreamWorks. They made an agreement with their former parent to distribute all of their films until they deliver twelve new films, or December 12, 2010, whichever came last.
On January 31, 2006, DWA entered into a distribution agreement with Paramount Pictures, which acquired DWA's former parent and distribution partner, DreamWorks SKG. The agreement granted Paramount the worldwide rights to distribute all animated films, including previously released films, until the delivery of 13 new animated feature films, or December 31, 2012, whichever came last.
DWA's partnership with with Aardman ended after the release of Flushed Away in November 2006, having only delivered three out of five films. The announcement was made before the film's release, on October 3, citing "creative differences". DWA retained the co-ownership of rights to all films co-produced with Aardman, with an exception for Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, for which they kept the worldwide distribution rights.
On March 13, 2007, DreamWorks Animation announced it would release all of its films, beginning with Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), in stereoscopic 3D. Together with Intel, they co-developed a new 3D film-making technology, InTru3D.
In 2008, DWA extended its production pipeline into Bangalore, India, where they established a special unit within Technicolor, named DreamWorks Dedicated Unit. This unit is owned by Technicolor, but DreamWorks hires and trains the animators, who then contribute to DreamWorks projects. DDU at first worked only on TV specials, such as Merry Madagascar and Scared Shrekless, and DVD projects. Eventually they started contributing to DreamWorks' feature films as well, beginning with animating part of Puss in Boots (2011).
Since 2009, the studio has been a regular guest on the list of Fortune Magazine's Top 100 Best Companies to Work For. As the only entertainment company on the list, they ranked 47th in 2009, 6th in 2010, 10th in 2011, 14th in 2012, and 12th in 2013. The company is praised by its employees for its openness, culture of collaboration, and a free breakfast and lunch, a perk not found at many other companies.
Beginning in 2010, the studio had planned to release five films over the course of every two years, but the next year the studio revisited their plans, "but beyond 2012, Katzenberg said the studio will play it by ear, even if that means abandoning his proclamation that DWA would try to release three pictures in a single year, every other year." In 2010, DWA became the first studio that released three feature-length CG-animated films in a year. The same year, the company purchased the film rights to the Trolls franchise.
Diversification and expansion (2012-2014)
In July 2012, DreamWorks Animation won a $155 million bid to acquire Classic Media, which has since been renamed DreamWorks Classics. In August 2012, DreamWorks Animation formed a joint venture with Chinese investment companies to establish a Shanghai-based entertainment company, named Oriental DreamWorks, to develop and produce original Chinese films and their derivatives.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, DreamWorks Animation was in talks with Sony Pictures to distribute its upcoming films, such as The Croods and Turbo. The report also mentioned a possibility where Sony would handle the United States distribution while 20th Century Fox would handle the international distribution. Renewal of the deal with Paramount was also open, but only with more favorable terms for Paramount. In August 2012, DreamWorks Animation signed a five-year distribution deal with 20th Century Fox for both domestic and international markets. However, the deal did not include the distribution rights of previously released films, which DWA acquired from Paramount later in 2014. Rise of the Guardians was the last DreamWorks Animation film to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, and The Croods became the first DreamWorks Animation film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox.
On April 11, 2013, DreamWorks Animation announced that it has acquired the intellectual property for the Trolls franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things. DreamWorks Animation, which has "big plans for the franchise", has become the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights, except for Scandinavia, where Dam Things remains the licensor. On May 1, Katzenberg and DWA announced their intent to purchase YouTube channel AwesomenessTV, which was finalized later in the month.
The next month, DWA announced a multi-year contract to provide 300 hours of exclusive original content to the video on demand Internet streaming media provider Netflix. Part of the intent of the deal was in part to establish a more reliable income for DWA to defray the financial risk of solely relying on the theatrical film market. The next day, DWA completed a five-year licensing agreement with Super RTL to start that September for the Classic Media library and the Netflix slate. With the Netflix and Super RTL deals in place for TV, DWA announced executive hiring for its new television group, DreamWorks Animation Television in late July. In September that same year, DreamWorks announced that it has acquired the TV library of London-based Chapman Entertainment with the programs to be distributed through DWA's UK-based TV distribution operation.
The next year, in February, DreamWorks announced the foundation of a new publishing division called DreamWorks Press, to publish books in print and digital form. In June, the rights to Felix the Cat were acquired by DreamWorks Animation from Felix the Cat Productions, owned by Don Oriolo. The same month, DreamWorksTV channel debuted on YouTube and operated by AwesomenessTV. DreamWorks Animation then purchased Paramount's distribution rights to the pre-2013 library in July, and since then, DreamWorks Animation's current distributor 20th Century Fox has assumed distribution rights to the library.
The studio was reported to be acquired two separate times at the end of 2014. First, in September it was reported that the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank was in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation for a price of $3.4 billion, but the next day, it was reported that SoftBank had withdrawn its offer. Next it was reported that Hasbro was in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation in November. The proposal reportedly calls for the combined company to take the name "DreamWorks-Hasbro" and for Jeffrey Katzenberg to become its chairman, but as a matter of policy, neither Hasbro nor DWA publicly comment on mergers or acquisitions. Two days later, the talks were reported to have fallen through.
DreamWorks Animation announced their launch into the television broadcasting business on December 9, 2014, by creating their own channel called The DreamWorks Channel. With HBO Asia handling affiliate sales, marketing and technical services, the network will launch in several Asian countries (except China and Japan) in the second half of 2015. The channel premiered in English on August 1, 2015, and a Thai-dubbed channel launched in September 2015. Also in December, DWA sold a 25% stake in AwesomenessTV for $81.25 million to the Hearst Corporation.
On January 5, 2015, DreamWorks Animation announced that Bonnie Arnold, producer of the How to Train Your Dragon series and Mireille Soria, producer of the Madagascar series were named co-presidents of the studio's feature animation division. At the same time, it was also announced that Bill Damaschke will step down from his position as Chief Creative Officer. So far, under Arnold and Soria's current tenure they signed Jason Reitman and Edgar Wright to work on their own animation debuts. Two weeks later, PDI/DreamWorks completely shut down as part of the parent company's larger restructuring efforts.
Universal Studios era (2016-present)
On April 26, 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast was in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3 billion; the company already has its own feature animation studio, Illumination Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal's Universal Pictures unit best known for the Despicable Me franchise. The Los Angeles Times noted that such an acquisition could help Comcast further expand into China due to DreamWorks' presence there, and give Universal presence in television animation. The Washington Post further noted that Universal could leverage DreamWorks' properties for attractions at Universal Parks & Resorts locations.
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal officially announced its intent to acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, valuing the company at $41 per-share. Jeffrey Katzenberg is to remain involved in the company as head of DreamWorks New Media, but will cede control of the studio to Illumination Entertainment's CEO Chris Meledandri, who would oversee both. The sale was approved by board members, but is subject to regulatory approval.
DreamWorks Animation has an ongoing partnership with Hewlett-Packard, and the studio exclusively uses HP workstations and servers. In 2005, DWA partnered with HP to introduce HP Halo Telepresence Solutions, technologies that allow people in different locations to communicate in a face-to-face environment in real time.
In 2005, AMD signed a three-year deal to provide processors to the studio. This relationship ended in 2008, and DreamWorks announced that they will use Intel processors for future productions.
The DreamWorks Experience: Gaylord Hotels 2011-2015
- See also: DreamWorks Experience
In April 2011, the DreamWorks Experience was announced for resorts owned by Gaylord Entertainment in Nashville, Orlando, Dallas, and Washington D.C. For a four-year contract ending January 1, 2015. After Gaylord was bought out by Marriott, Marriott owners did not renew contract.
- Antz (October 2, 1998)
- The Prince of Egypt (December 18, 1998)
- The Road to El Dorado (March 31, 2000)
- Chicken Run (June 23, 2000)
- Shrek (May 18, 2001)
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (May 24, 2002)
- Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (July 2, 2003)
- Shrek 2 (May 19, 2004)
- Shark Tale (October 1, 2004)
- Madagascar (May 27, 2005)
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (October 7, 2005)
- Over the Hedge (May 19, 2006)
- Flushed Away (November 3, 2006)
- Shrek the Third (May 18, 2007)
- Bee Movie (November 2, 2007)
- Kung Fu Panda (June 6, 2008)
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (November 7, 2008)
- Monsters vs. Aliens (March 27, 2009)
- How to Train Your Dragon (March 26, 2010)
- Shrek Forever After (May 21, 2010)
- Megamind (November 5, 2010)
- Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 26, 2011)
- Puss in Boots (October 28, 2011)
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (June 8, 2012)
- Rise of the Guardians (November 21, 2012)
- The Croods (March 22, 2013)
- Turbo (July 17, 2013)
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman (March 7, 2014)
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13, 2014)
- Penguins of Madagascar (November 26, 2014)
- Home (March 27, 2015)
- Kung Fu Panda 3 (January 29, 2016)
- Trolls (November 4, 2016)
- The Boss Baby (March 31, 2017)
- Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (June 2, 2017)
Upcoming feature films
- How to Train Your Dragon 3 (March 1, 2019)
- Everest (September 27, 2019)
- Trolls 2 (April 10, 2020)
- The Boss Baby 2 (March 26, 2021)
Feature films in development
- Shrek 5
- B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations
- Mumbai Musical
- Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves
- Hot Stuff
- Me & My Shadow
- Captain Underpants 2
- Joseph: King of Dreams (November 7, 2000)
- Shrek the Halls (November 28, 2007)
- Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space (October 28, 2009)
- Merry Madagascar (November 17, 2009)
- Scared Shrekless (October 28, 2010)
- Kung Fu Panda Holiday (November 24, 2010)
- Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury (November 15, 2011)
- Monsters vs. Aliens: Night of the Living Carrots
- Madly Madagascar (January 29, 2013)
- Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party! (November 2, 2001)
- Shrek 4-D (May 23, 2003)
- Sinbad and the Cyclops Island (November 18, 2003)
- Far Far Away Idol (November 5, 2004)
- Club Oscar (February 8, 2005)
- The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper (October 7, 2005)
- First Flight (May 19, 2006)
- Hammy's Boomerang Adventure (October 17, 2006)
- Secrets of the Furious Five (November 9, 2008)
- B.O.B.'s Big Break (September 29, 2009)
- Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon (October 15, 2010)
- Donkey's Caroling Christmas-tacular (December 7, 2010)
- Megamind: The Button of Doom (February 25, 2011)
- Thriller Night (September 13, 2011)
- The Pig Who Cried Werewolf (October 4, 2011)
- Monsters vs. Aliens: Night of the Living Carrots (October 13, 2011)
- Book of Dragons (November 15, 2011)
- Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters (December 13, 2011)
- Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos (February 24, 2012)
- Almost Home (March 7, 2014)
- Rocky and Bullwinkle (October 14, 2014)
- Dawn of the Dragon Racers (November 11, 2014)
- Kung Fu Panda: Secrets Of The Scroll (December 15, 2015)
- Untitled Gerald McBoing Boing Short (TBA)
- Toonsylvania (February 7, 1998-January 18, 1999)
- Invasion America (June 8, 1998-July 7, 1998)
- Alienators: Evolution Continues (September 15, 2001-June 22, 2002)
- Father of the Pride (August 31, 2004-May 27, 2005)
- The Penguins of Madagascar (November 29, 2008-December 19, 2015)
- Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness (November 7, 2011-June 29, 2016)
- DreamWorks Dragons (August 7, 2012-present)
- Monsters vs. Aliens (March 23, 2013-February 8, 2014)
- Turbo FAST (December 24, 2013-present)
- VeggieTales in the House (November 26, 2014-present)
- All Hail King Julien (December 19, 2014-present)
- The Adventures of Puss in Boots (January 16, 2015-present)
- Dinotrux (August 14, 2015-April 1, 2017)
- The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show (October 9, 2015-present)
- Dawn of the Croods (December 24, 2015-present)
- Noddy: Toyland Detective (April 2, 2016-present)
- Voltron: Legendary Defender (June 10, 2016-present)
- Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh (July 29, 2016-present)
- Trollhunters (December 23, 2016-present)
- Spirit Riding Free (May 5, 2017-present)
- This company has only produced three G-rated films (which are Chicken Run, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as well as the G-rated short The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper), as most of its feature-length films so far have been rated PG by the MPAA (as of the short film Rocky and Bullwinkle), due to stricter reasons, although Shark Tale has been rated G in certain countries.
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