|LLC Joint venture|
|Predecessor||DW Studios, LLC (1994-2008)|
|Founded||October 12, 1994|
|Headquarters||Universal City, California,
(Principal Partner) (via DW II Management)
(Chief Executive Officer)
(President/Chief Operating Officer)
(President of Production)
|Products||Motion pictures, Television, Music|
|Owner||DW II Management & Reliance Entertainment|
Number of employees
DreamWorks Home Entertainment
DreamWorks Studios (officially DreamWorks II Holding Co., LLC) also known as DreamWorks SKG, DreamWorks Pictures, or simply DreamWorks, is an American film production company which produces and develops films, television programming, and video games. It was also a former film distributor for its own and third-party films. It has produced or distributed more than ten films with box-office grosses of more than $100 million each. Currently, DreamWorks' films are marketed and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures under its Touchstone Pictures banner.
DreamWorks began in 1994 as an attempt by media moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (together, SKG) to create a new Hollywood studio of which they owned 72%. Currently, DreamWorks operates out of offices at Universal Studios. In December 2005, the founders agreed to sell the studio to Viacom, parent of Paramount Pictures. The sale was completed in February 2006. In 2008, DreamWorks announced its intention to end its partnership with Paramount and signed a $1.5 billion deal to produce films with India's Reliance ADA Group. Reliance provided $325M of equity to fund recreating DreamWorks SKG into DreamWorks Studios, an independent entity. Clark Hallren, former Managing Director of the Entertainment Industries group of J.P. Morgan Securities and Alan J. Levine of J.P. Morgan Entertainment Advisors led the Reliance team in restructuring the company.
DreamWorks' animation arm was spun off in 2004 into DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA), which currently owns the DreamWorks trademarks. Spielberg's company continues to use the DreamWorks trademarks under license from DWA.
DreamWorks SKG: original founding
The original company was founded following Katzenberg's resignation from The Walt Disney Company in 1994. Katzenberg approached Spielberg and Geffen about forming a live-action and animation film studio, which hadn't been done in decades due to the risk and expense. They agreed on three conditions: They would make less than nine movies a year, they would be free to work for other studios if they chose, and they would go home in time for dinner. They officially founded DreamWorks SKG on October 1994, with financial backing of $33 million from each of the three partners and $500 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Their new studio was based at offices in the Universal Studios lot, previously occupied by Amblin Entertainment. Despite access to sound stages and sets, DreamWorks preferred to film motion pictures on location. Usually, the company would film in a soundstage or set in a major studio. As of 2014, DreamWorks is still based in Universal.
In 1995, traditional animation artists from Amblimation joined the new studio, which led to DreamWorks buying part of Pacific Data Images, a company specializing in visual effects. Both were software divisions, and would merge later on. For then, DreamWorks had the traditional animators working for their untitled animation department, and the computer animators worked on CG films.
In 1997, DreamWorks SKG released its first three feature films, The Peacemaker , a film about terrorism, Amistad, Spielberg's first film for the studio about an African slave rebellion and the aftermath of the massacre, and MouseHunt, the studio's first family film about two brothers trying to fight a mischievous mouse. These films were distributed by DreamWorks Pictures.
In 1998, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lawsuit against DreamWorks for trademark infringement by Dreamwerks Production Group, Inc., a company mostly specializing in Star Trek conventions. The same year, PDI/DreamWorks produced its first full-length animated features, Antz and The Prince of Egypt, which were also distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. DreamWorks SKG continued to distribute PDI/DreamWorks productions through their distribution name until 2004.
In 2000, DreamWorks was planning in building a studio backlot after buying 1,087 acres of land in the Playa Vista area in Los Angeles. It was to be complete with 18 sound stages, with many office buildings and a lake. There would also be new homes, schools, churches, and museums. The project was to be completed in 2001, but was cancelled for financial reasons. Starting in 1999, DreamWorks won three consecutive Academy Awards for Best Picture for American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind (the latter two were co-productions with Universal).
DreamWorks Interactive was a computer and video game developer founded in 1995 as a DreamWorks subsidiary. On February 24, 2000, Electronic Arts announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Interactive and merged it with EA Pacific and Westwood Studios to form EA Los Angeles, now Danger Close Games.
DreamWorks Records was the company's record label, the first project of which was George Michael's Older album. The first band signed to the label was eels who released their debut album "Beautiful Freak" in 1997. The record company never lived up to expectations, though, and was sold in October 2003 to Universal Music Group, which operated the label as DreamWorks Nashville. That label was shut down in 2005 when its flagship artist, Toby Keith, departed to form his own label.
PDI/DreamWorks produced some of the highest grossing animated hits of all time, including Chicken Run (2000), Shrek (2001), and its sequel Shrek 2 (2004). In October 2004, DreamWorks' animation arm was split to form DreamWorks Animation, and would have its films also distributed by Paramount Pictures (2006-2012) & 20th Century Fox (2013-present).
David Geffen admitted that DreamWorks had come close to bankruptcy twice. Under Katzenberg's watch, the studio suffered a $125 million loss on Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and also overestimated the DVD demand for Shrek 2. In 2005, out of their two large budget pictures, The Island bombed at the domestic box office but turned a profit after being released elsewhere, while War of the Worlds was produced as a joint effort with Paramount which was the first to reap a significant amount of profits.
In December 2005, Paramount Pictures agreed to purchase the live-action studio, still keeping the original name and producing/distribution name. The deal was valued at approximately $1.6 billion, an amount that included about $400 million in debt assumptions. The company completed its acquisition on February 1, 2006.
On March 17, 2006, Paramount agreed to sell a controlling interest in the DreamWorks Pictures live-action library (pre-September 16, 2005; DW Funding, LLC) to Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Entertainment II. The film library is valued at $900 million. Paramount retained the worldwide distribution rights to these films, as well as various ancillary rights, including music publishing, sequels and merchandising. This includes films that had been made by Paramount and DreamWorks Pictures (the music publishing rights were later licensed to Sony-ATV Music Publishing when that company acquired Paramount's Famous Music subdivision). The sale was completed on May 8, 2006. On February 8, 2010, Viacom repurchased Soros' controlling stake in the DreamWorks Pictures library for around $400 million.
Reliance-Spielberg joint venture
In June 2008, Variety reported that DreamWorks was looking for financing that would allow it to continue operations, but as a production company, once its deal with Paramount ended later that year. Several private equity funds were approached for financing including Blackstone Group, Fuse Global, TPG Capital, and several others, but all passed on the deal given their understanding of the Hollywood markets. Then most of the backing would come from an Indian investment firm called Reliance ADA Group. Spielberg entered a licensing agreement with Katzenberg to use the DreamWorks trademarks and their name it used when it produced or distributed a film, only it would only just produce films, as they are owned by DreamWorks Animation and the new company would need their approval to use them. In September 2008, Variety reported that DreamWorks closed a deal with Reliance to create a stand-alone production company called DreamWorks Studios and end its ties with Paramount.
On February 9, 2009, DreamWorks Studios entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures by which the films will be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner. The deal also includes co-funding via a loan by Disney to DreamWorks Studios for production and access to slots in Disney's pay television agreement then with Starz. This agreement is reported to have come after negotiations broke off with Universal Pictures just days earlier. DreamWorks raised $325 million from Reliance Entertainment and an additional $325 million in debt in 2009.
DreamWorks Studios' initial movies, I Am Number Four, Cowboys & Aliens and Fright Night failed while The Help was a hit and Real Steel and Spielberg's own War Horse had some success at the box office. This left DreamWorks Studios so financially drained that by 2011, the company was seeking additional funding from Reliance. Reliance gave a $200 million investment in April 2012. Under the deal, DreamWorks Studios scaled back production to three films per year and seek co-financiers on big budget films with 20th Century Fox co-financing Lincoln and Robopocalypse. The company continues to utilize The Walt Disney Studios' marketing unit. In August, after renegotiating their agreement with Disney, DreamWorks Studios formed a deal with Mister Smith Entertainment to sell the distribution of DreamWorks films in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while Disney will continue to distribute in North America, Latin America, Australia, Russia, and some territories in Asia.
On December 15, 2014, DreamWorks considered giving itself a new name after reportedly of being confused with Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation. They are also annoyed with all the recent publicity centered on the other company over its recently failed merger attempts, Some say that the studio could rename itself to "Amblin" which would be a natural choice as it is the name of Steven Spielberg’s production company, "Amblin Entertainment".
The DreamWorks logo features a boy sitting on a crescent moon while fishing. The general idea for the logo was the idea of company co-founder Steven Spielberg, who wanted a computer generated image. The logo was then made at Industrial Light and Magic, in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Films, Dave Carson and Clint Goldman. The music accompanying the logo to start live-action DreamWorks movies was specially composed by John Williams; the DreamWorks Animation logo has music from the Harry Gregson-Williams/John Powell score for Shrek.
DreamWorks used to distribute its own films, with Universal handling video distribution rights. When Viacom bought DreamWorks in 2006, this meant most DreamWorks films were to be distributed by Paramount Pictures. This partnership ended in 2008.
On February 9, 2009, DreamWorks entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures by which the films will be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner. The deal also includes co-funding by Disney to DreamWorks for production. Originally, the deal included access to slots in Disney's pay television agreement with Starz, but went to Showtime instead. This agreement was reported to have come after negotiations broke off with Universal Pictures just days earlier. However, this deal does not include Indian distribution rights, which is handled by Reliance. Also not included are sequels to live-action films released before the Paramount merger, or those released by Paramount themselves – Paramount retains the rights to these franchises, and many sequels that were made by Paramount included, Little Fockers, which was released by Paramount internationally in December 2010 (Universal owns domestic rights), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Road Trip: Beer Pong and Transformers Revenge of the Fallen.
The broadcast and basic subscription cable television distribution rights to many DreamWorks films are owned by either Trifecta Entertainment & Media and Disney-ABC Domestic Television (formerly known as Buena Vista Television), depending on both content and region of license. In South Korea, CJ Entertainment has the rights to release all DreamWorks' films, except some co-productions (for example, Minority Report and Road to Perdition were distributed by Fox, Small Soldiers, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind and Seabiscuit by Universal Studios, Almost Famous and Evolution by Columbia Pictures, Saving Private Ryan by Paramount Pictures, and The Island and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Warner Bros., due to these studios having owned the international rights to these films).
Over the years, many DreamWorks films have aired on the ABC TV network through a deal.
Formerly, United International Pictures, a joint venture of Paramount and Universal, released DreamWorks' films internationally (except South Korea).
In August 2012, DreamWorks formed a deal with Mister Smith Entertainment, a joint venture of Constantin Film and Summit Entertainment co-founder David Garrett. Mister Smith will sell the distribution of DreamWorks films in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while Disney will continue to distribute in North and South America, Kazakhstan, Australia, Russia, and Eastern Asia. Reliance will still distribute for India. Mister Smith made a four-year deal with Entertainment One for distribution in the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries. Other deals were made with Constantin Film for Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Nordisk Film for Scandinavia, and Italia Film for the Middle East. In February 2013, DreamWorks announced distribution deals with Acme (the Baltic regions), United King (Israel), Metropolitan Filmexport (France), Andrea Leone (Italy), Monolith (Poland), Blitz (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia), Fida Film (Turkey), Lusomundo (Portugal), Odeon (Greece), Interfilm (Ukraine), and TriPictures/DeaPlaneta (Spain).
TV series and specials
Computer and video games
- Universal Pictures
- Paramount Pictures
- United International Pictures
- Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Amblin Entertainment
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