Born in 1994 with the creation of DreamWorks SKG — founded by (from left) Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen — DreamWorks Animation separated from its parent company in 2004 to become an autonomous studio focused exclusively on animated films. — Reuters
Animated movie hit maker looking to the future with changing formats and lucrative new markets.
DreamWorks Animation, one of the biggest successes of recent Hollywood history, is celebrating its 20th birthday with eyes firmly on the future, both in terms of changing formats and lucrative new markets like China.
Jeffrey Katzenberg’s studio, a Croisette regular which chose Cannes to premiere the first two movies about lovable ogre Shrek, presented the spectacular How To Train Your Dragon 2 out of competition at the Palais des Festivals a fortnight ago.
It also took the opportunity to fete its 20 years of animated hits.
Born in 1994 with the creation of DreamWorks SKG – founded by Steven Spielberg, Katzenberg and David Geffen – DreamWorks Animation separated from its parent company in 2004 to become an autonomous studio focused exclusively on animated films.
In two decades it has produced 28 features including the blockbuster Shrek and Madagascar franchises as well as one-offs like 1998’s Prince Of Egypt and Chicken Run (2000), which have in all made over US$11bil at the global box office.
The studio also landed the first animated feature film Oscar in 2002 with the first Shrek movie, and repeated the trick in 2006 with Wallace And Gromit.
But the studio, like its competitors, is not immune to missteps – like last year’s Turbo, which failed to take off as expected at the box office.
And that is why Katzenberg, a former Disney executive, stresses the need for his company to keep diversifying, notably by investing in animated TV series and the Internet.
“Movies are not a growth business,” he told a recent conference in Beverly Hills, adding that in 10 years’ time films will only spend about three weeks in cinemas, before transferring to other formats.
The other major challenge for Katzenberg is the Chinese market, which all the major Hollywood studios are trying to conquer.
In 2012, DreamWorks Animation created Oriental DreamWorks, a studio based in Shanghai, with the aim of releasing films from 2016 with “Chinese DNA”.
In an interview with AFP, Katzenberg said at the time that “what is unique (about China) is that in five to seven years they will be the number one market in the whole world.
“They are going actually to have a marketplace that, if you could succeed at creating a great family brand, the value of that would be tremendous,” he added. – AFP