|Trading name||DreamWorks Studios|
|Predecessor(s)||DW Studios, LLC (1994-2008)|
|Founded||October 12, 1994|
|Headquarters||Universal City, California|
|Key people||Steven Spielberg, Principal Partner
Stacy Snider, Co-Chairman/CEO
|Products||Motion pictures, television programs|
|Parent||Reliance Entertainment (50%)|
|Divisions||DreamWorks Live Theatrical Productions
DreamWorks Movie Network
DreamWorks Home Entertainment
DreamWorks Studios (officially DW II Distribution Co., LLC) also known as DreamWorks, LLC, DreamWorks SKG, DreamWorks Pictures, or simply DreamWorks, is a California film studio which develops, produces, and distributes films, video games and television programming. It has produced or distributed more than ten films with box-office grosses totaling more than $100 million each. Most of DreamWorks' films are marketed and distributed by The Walt Disney Studios under its Touchstone Pictures label.
DreamWorks began in 1994 as an attempt by media moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (forming the SKG present on the bottom on both the DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation logos) to create a new Hollywood studio of which they owned 72%. 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 studio as 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 structuring the capital and business plan for 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.
The company was founded following Katzenberg's resignation from The Walt Disney Company in 1994. At the suggestion of a friend of Spielberg, the two made an agreement with long-time Katzenberg collaborator David Geffen to start their own studio. The studio was officially founded on October 12, 1994 with financial backing of $33 million from each of the three main partners and $500 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
In 1998, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lawsuit against DreamWorks for trademark infringement on Dreamwerks Production Group, Inc., a company mostly specializing in Star Trek conventions. The same year, DreamWorks released its first full-length animated feature, Antz.
DreamWorks Interactive was a computer and video game developer founded in 1995, as a subsidiary of DreamWorks SKG. On February 24, 2000, Electronic Arts announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Interactive from DreamWorks 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 this 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.
The studio has had its greatest financial success with movies, specifically animated movies. DreamWorks Animation teamed up with Pacific Data Images (now known as PDI/DreamWorks) in 1996, emerging as the main competitor to Pixar in the age of computer-generated animation and one of the few competitors to Disney in creating traditionally animated feature films. DreamWorks Animation has produced some of the highest grossing animated hits of all time, such as Antz (1998), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Chicken Run (2000), Shrek (2001), and its sequel Shrek 2 (2004), before it has been spun off on October 27, 2004 as its own publicly traded company under the management of Katzenberg.
In recent years, DreamWorks has scaled back. It stopped plans to build a high-tech studio, and has sold its music division, interactive division and it has also spun off its animation department and has only produced a few television series, Las Vegas, Carpoolers and On the Lot, for example.
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, while War of the Worlds was produced as a joint effort with Paramount which was the first to reap the profits.
In December 2005, Viacom's Paramount Pictures agreed to purchase the live-action studio. 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 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 (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 library for around $400 million.
DW II Distribution
In June 2008, Variety reported that DreamWorks was looking for financing that would allow it to continue operations as an independent production company once its deal with Paramount ended later in the year. Several private equity funds were approached for the financing including Blackstone Group, Fuse Global, TPG Capital. and several others. But all passed on the deal given their earlier 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, as they are owned by DreamWorks Animation and the new company would need their approval to use the trademarks. In September 2008, it was reported by Variety that DreamWorks closed a deal with Reliance to create a stand-alone production company and end its ties to Paramount.
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 with up to 5 films released per year. The deal also includes co-funding via a loan by Disney to DreamWorks 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' 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 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 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 Disney's marketing team. In August after renegotiating their agreement with Disney, DreamWorks 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, Australia, Russia, and some territories in Asia.
The DreamWorks logo features a young boy sitting on a crescent moon while fishing. The general idea for the logo was the brainchild of company co-founder Steven Spielberg, who originally wanted a computer-generated image, whereas Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren of Industrial Light and Magic suggested a hand-painted one. Muren then contacted a friend and fellow artist, Robert Hunt, to paint it. Hunt worked on both versions, for each of which his son William was cast as the model for the boy, and Spielberg liked the CGI one better. 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.
The logo attached to feature films was made at ILM based on paintings by Hunt, in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Films, Dave Carson and Clint Goldman.
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 via a loan 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 three such sequels, Little Fockers, was released by Paramount internationally in December 2010 (Universal owns domestic rights) and Anchorman: The Legend Continues and Road Trip: Beer Pong.
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 was distributed by Fox, Small Soldiers and Gladiator by Universal Studios, Evolution by Columbia Pictures, Saving Private Ryan by Paramount Pictures, and The Island 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. The network once owned uncut broadcast rights to Saving Private Ryan, as an example (these rights are owned by TNT).
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. 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), and TriPictures/DeaPlaneta (Spain), Interfilm (Ukraine)
- For animated films, see DreamWorks Animation
TV series and specials
Computer and video games
- Universal Pictures
- Paramount Pictures
- United International Pictures
- Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
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