Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.
Caveman movies are favorites for Chris Sanders, co-writer and co-director of DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods. But even his familiarity with the genre didn’t prepare him for just how deep the movie about a caveman family tempted away from the absolute safety of their cave to risk finding a more rewarding life in the larger world could get.
“It is purely about family and relationships, and really about life in general,” says Sanders, who previously co-wrote and co-directed Lilo & Stitch for Disney and DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon. “That was the big surprise for me, was that within a few weeks we realized that we weren’t just dealing with a family, we were dealing with very large questions — questions about life and existence, and that’s something with a caveman film that I didn’t expect.”
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UPDATE, 1:27 PM WRITETHRU: President Obama took to the stage today for a speech on the economy at DreamWorks Animation, the company run by one of his biggest Hollywood bundlers Jeffrey Katzenberg. After being introduced by Mellody Hobson — the DWA board chairman from Aerial Capital Management, a Chicago native and longtime friend — he thanked Katzenberg for inviting him before launching into a pro-Hollywood and pro-economy message tailored to the crowd estimated at 1800-2000 that included DWA employees and pretty much every entertainment mogul in the city. “His place in the entertainment business is legendary … don’t need to puff him up too much he has a healthy sense of self”, Obama joked about Katzenberg, with the president adding that “my ears were the inspiration for Shrek”. The president called the entertainment biz “one of America’s biggest exports” and “one of the bright spots of our economy”, adding that he’s figured out what his next job will be. “I told Jeffery I’d like to work here”, Obama said to cheers from the crowd. As he wrapped up, after his customary “God bless America” line, Obama said, “Can’t wait to see your next movie”.
The Glendale stop, on the second day of a two-day LA fundraising swing, drew a who’s who of Hollywood moguls including CBS Corp’s Les Moonves, NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Jeff Shell and Robert Greenblatt, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Paramount’s Rob Moore, Fox’s Jim Gianoplulos and Peter Rice, Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer, Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara, Disney’s Bob Iger, Alan Horn and Anne Sweeney, LA Film Czar Tom Sherak and the MPAA’s Chris Dodd. Those execs participated in a closed-press meeting with Obama ahead of his speech, with a White House spokesman describing it as an “opportunity to discuss the economy and highlight the entertainment industry as a bright spot in our growing economy. The President discussed the impact that broader economic conditions has on the industry. He also touched on piracy and intellectual property rights, which are chief concerns of participating film industry leaders.” The moguls were hard to pin down on the meeting, with Meyer telling me only that “it was great, really great”. Read More »
VFX artists and supporters have gathered in Glendale for today’s “Go Green” rally organized around President Obama‘s visit to DreamWorks Animation. (The President is slated to address an audience on the closed DWA campus shortly; look for coverage from Deadline’s Dominic Patten.) Security was in place around DWA as the “Go Green” rally marched down Flower Street:
Related: Obama At DreamWorks Animation For Speech On Economy (LIVE)
Inside the DWA event, new L.A. film czar Tom Sherak said of the protesters: “This situation didn’t happen overnight. We have to find a way to entice these companies to stay here.” Read More »
UPDATE: Organizers of the VFX artists’ protest scheduled during President Obama’s visit to DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday say they now plan to march between Griffith Manor Park and the street. The group has also announced the name of its CVD campaign coalition: Association of Digital Artists, Professionals & Technicians (ADAPT).
PREVIOUS, 1:34 PM: Barack Obama’s visit to DreamWorks Animation tomorrow will be matched by a protest by the VFX professionals behind an anti-subsidy tariff campaign, but the organizers say they don’t have the president — or DWA head Jeffrey Katzenberg – in their sights. “We are not trying to embarrass DreamWorks Animation at all,” the industry blogger known as VFX Soldier told Deadline. “This is about raising awareness about what is happening outside the walls of DreamWorks: The absolute collapse of VFX employment.”
Obama is in town today and Tuesday for midterm election fundraisers as well as his DWA appearance. After a studio tour and a meeting with industry leaders, Obama is expected to speak about the economy and the strength of the entertainment industry in his DWA address scheduled for 12:15 PM Tuesday. During his DWA visit VFX supporters will gather just under a mile away at Glendale’s Griffith Manor Park. The VFX activists are aghast that Obama would praise employment at a studio hit by layoffs in the last year to an animation and VFX community that’s struggling to survive. Pink slips delivered by DWA earlier this year were the result of changes in the studio’s production schedule, not outsourcing or similar activities. Sources tell Deadline that many of those let go from DWA have since been rehired as the studio has new films in the pipeline. Still, everyone in VFX feels the instability of the industry. “We’re trying to prevent the embarrassment,” said VFX Soldier. “Why would you go to L.A.? This is ground zero.”
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While the president won’t see the protesting VFXers, the White House is clearly sensitive to perception about Obama speaking at the HQ of his biggest donor bundler. “DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California and the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the president’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there. Rather, it’s an opportunity to highlight the success of one business and the success that they’re having in creating jobs in Southern California,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest today on Air Force One according to pool reports. Similar to the fundraiser last week for Gov. Jerry Brown at Disney Studios boss Alan Horn’s home, a number of other studio chiefs such as Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara and CBS’ Les Moonves are expected to attend Obama’s speech at DWA.
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If you aren’t attending the two big-ticket fundraisers President Obama is headlining in Beverly Hills tonight, you might want to stay out of West LA today. Because of Obama’s two-day visit, the LAPD says there’ll be street closures from the 405 Freeway to La Cienega Boulevard and from Santa Monica Boulevard south down to Venice Boulevard today from 4:45-10 PM. There will also be closures from Fairfax to Western and from Beverly Boulevard to Pico from 8-10:45 AM Tuesday for a Hancock Park fundraiser. Also expect delays in the Glendale area from 10:30 AM-1:30 PM when the President heads over to big bundler Jeffery Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation for a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry.
Related: Obama Set For DreamWorks Animation Visit Nov. 26
Today, Obama is set to fly into LAX at 4:30 PM and then chopper over to the Veterans Administration building at 11000 Wilshire Blvd near UCLA. Coming to town from San Francisco, POTUS will head first to a $2,500-$15,000 a ticket gathering at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house; Obama is scheduled to speak at the event around 7:10 PM. Staying in the neighborhood, the President will then head to the home of Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl for a $16,200-a-person or $32,400-a-couple dinner. A longtime Democratic Party supporter who had an event with Hillary Clinton last month at his house, this marks the first fundraiser the Power Rangers billionaire has held with Obama directly. After delivering remarks at 8:20 PM, Obama will head to a hotel, likely the Beverly Hilton, for the night. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The last time President Obama was in town back in early August he had a private dinner with Jeffrey Katzenberg – now the Commander-in-Chief is heading over to his top bundler’s DreamWorks Animation Glendale campus for a very public pre-Thanksgiving visit. While in town next week for a series of fundraisers, Obama will be dropping by DWA on November 26 in the afternoon, I’ve learned. While there, the President will be giving a speech to company employees and invited guests at Katzenberg HQ. Of course, Obama’s visit to DWA isn’t the only political face time on Katzenberg’s calendar in the next week – the Animation CEO is co-hosting a mogul heavy fundraiser today for Governor Jerry Brown at Disney Studio boss Alan Horn‘s Bel Air home.
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The donation by the DreamWorks Animation CEO and the Oscar-winning director to the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will see the main lobbies of the facility named after their families. Here’s the Academy‘s release about the gift from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg:
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Dominic Patten interviews directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders and Sound Designer Randy Thom on the character voice work, sound mixing and music integration on Dreamworks Animation‘s hit ‘toon The Croods as part of Deadline’s sold out … Read More »
Listen to (and share) episode 57 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor and host David Bloom talk about Time-Warner Cable, which says that its recent CBS blackout was surprisingly painful but worth every penny, even as retiring CEO Glenn Britt looks back on 41 years in the business. They also talk about Facebook, which is trying to relocate its mojo as young teens turn elsewhere and marketers get frustrated; DreamWorks Animation, which finally has reason to look animated as short sellers take a pounding; and Google, which announced a slew of new mobile and social media products that could have big impacts on the phone business.
Deadline Big Media, Episode 57 (MP3 format)
Deadline Big Media, Episode 57 (M4a format) Read More »
I expected shares to be up after yesterday’s report, where Q3 revenues and profits soundly topped analyst expectations. But I didn’t think DreamWorks Animation would be +18% in afternoon trading, after touching $33.02 — the highest it’s been since September 2010. What’s going on? “It looks like a short squeeze” — the aftermath of bet by short sellers that went bad — says Sterne Agee’s Vasilly Karasyov. Short sellers profit when a company’s stock price drops: They borrow shares, sell them, and then repurchase them at what they hope will be a lower price. That looked like a safe gamble for DWA. Its stock had appreciated 40% over the 12 months ending yesterday. And it appeared ready to fall as some analysts projected that the studio would have to report an impairment charge for its summer release, Turbo, a box office disappointment. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible — one of just two analysts urging investors to buy the stock — says DWA is “a hated name [on Wall Street] with a high short position.” If the company beat expectations, though, it would be “the recipe for a big boost that is likely aided by short covering.” And DWA did surprise.
Related: DreamWorks Animation Shares Slip After Analyst Lowers ‘Turbo’ Forecast
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It’s a low bar. But the projection by the DreamWorks Animation CEO in a conference call with analysts should reassure investors who feared that the company would have to record an impairment charge for its summer release about a … Read More »
Can’t say that the studio had a good quarter, but Wall Street is all about expectations and on that score it looks OK with shares up 7.8% post market. DreamWorks Animation generated $10M in net income, down 58.8% compared with last year, on revenues of $154.5M, -17%. Analysts expected revenues to come in at $140.3M. Earnings at 12 cents a share also beat expectations for a penny. The company says it will begin to report its numbers for four segments: feature films, TV series and specials, consumer products, and other. The feature film unit generated $120.7M in revenue and $55.4M in gross profit. Library titles contributed the most, with $52.2M in revenues. Rise Of The Guardians came next with $42.4M, mostly from worldwide pay TV. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted kicked in $10.9M, followed by the summer release Turbo with $6.4M, and 2011′s Puss In Boots with $4.8M. The TV operation had $18.2M in revenue and a $4.2M gross profit, which the company says came mostly from Classic Media content and Cartoon Network’s DreamWorks Dragons: Riders Of Berk.
Jeff Katzenberg: ‘Turbo’ Will Be Profitable
DreamWorks Animation Shares Slip After Analyst Lowers ‘Turbo’ Forecast Read More »
“Peabody here.” DreamWorks Animation is using the WABAC machine to transfer the world’s smartest person — er, dog — and his boy from The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show to the big screen. In Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the title duo (Ty Burrell and Max Charles, respectively) travel back … Read More »
Jeffrey Katzenberg told a packed audience at Mipcom today that he offered the folks behind Breaking Bad $75M to produce three additional episodes of the hit series. But he had one criteria: They would have to be delivered in 30, six-minute chapters. The DreamWorks Animation chief said he would have used the content to create “the best pay-per-view scripted TV event ever” by releasing the snippets over 30 days on VOD platforms like iTunes for 99 cents per. “There’s no doubt people would buy it every day, everyone would be there waiting for the next six minutes,” he said. The self-confessed fan said he came up with the idea prior to learning how the show would end. Given the ultimate demise of its central character, it was “not a very good idea, as we now know,” Katzenberg laughed. But, he shared the story to exemplify his vision of the potential of short-form entertainment.
Katzenberg is Mipcom’s Personality of the Year and was delivering a keynote this afternoon in Cannes when he made the comments. “I have the courage of my convictions in this, I just think there is a whole new platform” for short-form entertainment to fill up “waiting time.”
Related: DreamWorks Animation Launches Effort To Re-Position Itself As A Television Power Read More »
He helped bankroll Barack Obama’s re-election and now the DreamWorks Animation CEO is aiming to take out the Senate Minority leader in next year’s midterms. Jeffrey Katzenberg today sent an email to fellow local Democrats urging them to turn up and hand over checks for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes during her fundraising visit to LA on September 25-26. “Alison is the antidote to McConnell and all he represents. She can win, and she will win if she gets the support she needs,” said Katzenberg. “There is no more important election being held next year in this country,” he also wrote. The DWA boss and top Obama bundler said he’s already given all he legally can to Grimes’ campaign but asked for donors to hand over $5,200 and $10,000 to the Democrat. Politico first reported the Katzenberg letter. The only scheduled event planned so far is a lunch at Il Moro on September 25 but an insider tells me that a full mogul itinerary is being put together to introduce Grimes to all the major players and donors. She’s going to need every dime they give her. Expecting a strong challenge in 2014, Senator McConnell has already amassed a campaign war chest of almost $10 million according to fundraising report records – and that’s without RNC support and other third party backers.
Related: Obama Meets With Katzenberg Post-’Tonight’ Taping Read More »
UPDATE, 3:25 PM: It’s official. Dawn Taubin has been named Chief Marketing Officer at DreamWorks Animation. The full release follows below:
PREVIOUS: Jeffrey Katzenberg has hired Dawn Taubin as Chief Marketing Officer at DreamWorks Animation, sources tell Deadline. Taubin’s appointment follows the departure of marketing chief Anne Globe. Katzenberg announced earlier this week that Globe had decided to leave DWA to start her own consulting business. Taubin formerly headed domestic marketing at Warner Bros from 2002 to 2008 where she oversaw the Harry Potter franchise, 300: Rise Of An Empire and the launch of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. She also marketed the animated Happy Feet for WB. She also served as an award and marketing consultant on The Help and War Horse for DreamWorks Pictures.
Glendale, CA – August 8, 2013 – Dawn Taubin, one of the most experienced marketing executives in the entertainment industry, is joining DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA) as chief marketing officer. Taubin, who most recently held the role of president of marketing for Warner Bros., will head all of marketing for the studio including theatrical, television and global brand initiatives.
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UPDATE, 7:00 AM: CEO Jeff Katzenberg tells staffers this morning that Anne Globe ”has made the decision to leave DreamWorks Animation to start her own consulting business.” He praised her “unmatched dedication, drive and expertise” marketing DWA films, TV series, and theatrical productions and forging relationships with companies including McDonald’s, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Nickelodeon, and General Mills. “On a personal note, Anne, you’ve been a talented and creative executive, partner and friend to me. Your grace and strength are only outshined by your generosity and professionalism. You’re a class act and I hold you in the highest regard. I hope to continue our friendship for many years to come.” (See his full note below.)
PREVIOUS, 6:14 AM: The Chief Marketing Officer “has decided to leave the Company” today, DreamWorks Animation disclosed in an SEC filing this morning. The company reported the financial terms of Anne Globe’s separation which include her becoming fully vested in her restricted stock — although other equity-based and long-term incentive awards “have been canceled.” Read More »