The streaming service already has booked original spinoff series from DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo, Madagascar and Puss In Boots, and now it’s bringing the Viking gang in on the action. Netflix said today that it will air new seasons of DreamWorks Dragons, the series spawned by the 2010 hit How To Train Your Dragon that has been airing on Cartoon Network. The new episodes are said to bridge the gap between the first film and next month’s sequel How To Train Your Dragon 2 — from the origin of Hiccup’s new flight suit and the secrets of his dragon blade to the young Viking’s budding romance with Astrid. Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid) Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs) and TJ Miller (Taffnut) are reprising their voice roles in the films for the TV series, which will be available in all Netflix territories starting in spring 2015.
Fox announced today it will air the animated DreamWorks Dragons: Gift Of The Night Fury on December 17 at 8 PM. The half-hour special is based on DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon pic, which is spawning a pair of sequels after the first film grossed $500 million worldwide. Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Gerard Butler are among the feature film’s voice cast back for the special. The news comes a day after DWA boss Jeffery Katzenberg said he has wanted to get his content on Fox’s primetime now that DWA and News Corp’s film arm 20th Century Fox are distribution partners beginning January 1. Katzenberg also touted yesterday Fox parent News Corp’s “enthusiasm” for his effort to create a branded channel for the studio, an initiative he is discussing with Fox international execs. DWA previously had a TV distribution deal with Nickelodeon, owned by its soon-to-be-former distribution partner Viacom. Katzenberg reiterated hat he continues to have good relations with, and confidence in, the kids’ channel, which has been struggling to revive its ratings.
UPDATE, 2:25 PM: DreamWorks Animation shares jumped all over the place in after-hours trading when the company reported its earnings — but settled at -2% as CEO Jeff Katzenberg discussed his expectations and plans. He talked up Puss In Boots, predicting that it will set a record this weekend by generating more than $33.6M at box offices — that’s the previous high for a pre-Halloween release. “Anything beyond that goes into the ‘win’ column,” he says. Much of the revenue will come from sales of high-priced tickets for the 3D version. “Almost every review (of the movie) singled out the quality of the 3D experience,” Katzenberg says. “It’s meaningful.” He provided few details about his recent agreement to offer his films to Netflix instead of HBO in the premium TV window but calls the new arrangement “historic” for DreamWorks as well as “the industry as a whole.” Katzenberg was equally vague about the company’s thoughts about negotiating a new distribution deal to replace the one with Paramount that expires at the end of next year. “We will be considering all our distribution options starting in spring of 2012,” he says adding that he expects to have something in place next summer. Katzenberg says that DreamWorks has paid about $700M in distribution fees for 11 movies that generated $5.5B at worldwide box offices, and $10B from sales in all venues.
Asked about the changes in his employment contract, Lew Coleman …
Analyst Richard Greenfield of Wall Street’s BTIG has long been skeptical of claims by Jeffrey Katzenberg and James Cameron that 3D would do wonders for the movie business. But now Greenfield says that 3D is actually hurting the industry: “U.S. consumers are increasingly rejecting 3D movies,” he said in a report today. Attendance for Disney’s Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides “would have been higher” this past weekend if half of its screens showed the movie in conventional 2D instead of just a third, he says. The evidence? He notes that about 38% of the $90 million in box-office revenue for the film’s opening weekend came from non-IMAX 3D screens. That’s much lower than the average last year, when 54% of the opening revenues for DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek Forever After, and 57% of the initial sales for the studio’s How To Train Your Dragon, came from non-IMAX 3D screens. Greenfield says that “pricing remains our single biggest concern, especially with so many 3D movies aimed at the family segment.” He figures theaters charged $14.85 a ticket to see Pirates on IMAX 3D, $10.85 for non-IMAX 3D, and $7.60 for 2D. He adds that family films also are hurt by “young children not wanted to wear 3D glasses.” His advice: Hollywood should make fewer 3D films in 2012. “Focus on making consumer-desirable films rather than worrying about the technology,” he says.
At its upfront presentation in New York today, Cartoon Network announced the 2012 launch of DC Nation, an on-air and online programming block of DC animation properties “populated with event programming, interstitials, exclusive behind-the-scenes of theatrical production and an insider look into the world of all things DC.” The block, whose content will be produced by Warner Bros. Animation, is the latest effort under Time Warner’s new mandate to better integrate DC Comics with the company’s film and TV divisions.
DC Nation is part of Cartoon Network’s slate of new programming presented to advertisers today, which includes 13 new animated series, 19 returning shows, and the network’s newest live-action scripted comedy series, Level Up. DreamWorks Animation SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg made an appearance to talk about the company’s half-hour CG-animated series for Cartoon Network based on the film’s How to Train Your Dragon. Additionally, the network announced fourth season renewals for the LucasFilm Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars and animated comedy reality show franchise, Total Drama.
Here is a rundown of Cartoon Network’s new series, which include previously announced Looney Toons, ThunderCats and Green Lantern:
The controversial 38th International Animated Film Society’s Annie Awards announced their awards for Best Animated Feature tonight (see below): but remember that the official press release doesn’t mention that Disney/Pixar boycotted the awards and refused to participate due to complaints they have about the voting process among other things — like the fact that DreamWorks Animation pays for membership but Disney doesn’t. Though the Annies nominated two Disney films in the top category as well as directing and writing for Toy Story 3 (how could they avoid it and maintain cred?), the group gave Disney and Pixar only 7 mentions. But the Annies showered 15 nominations on DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon and 39 nods overall that included films like DWA’s Megamind and Shrek Forever After. Tonight’s winners were dominated by DWA:
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (February 5, 2011) — DreamWorks Animation’s “How To Train Your Dragon” won top honors as the Best Animated Feature at the 38th Annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 5 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Best Animated Short Subject was presented to Pixar’s ‘Day & Night’; Best Animated Television Commercial to Duck Studios ‘Children’s Medical Center’; Nickelodeon’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ was honored as Best Animated Television Production for Children and Playdead’s ‘Limbo’ won Best Animated Video Game. A new category, Character Animation in a Live Action Production was presented to Sony Pictures’ ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ The Winsor McCay award was presented to three animation industry leaders – Brad Bird, Eric Goldberg and
Los Angeles, February 1, 2011 – The Visual Effects Society announced the winners of the 9th Annual VES Awards tonight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The annual event recognizes outstanding visual effects in more than twenty categories of film, animation, television, commercials and video games. Filmmakers, producers and guests joined more than a thousand attendees from the visual effects industry for the sold-out gala which honored Christopher Nolan with the inaugural VES Visionary Award and Ray Harryhausen with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Inception’s Tom Hardy was on hand to present the award to Nolan while Harryhausen was feted by video tributes throughout the evening. Randy Cook and Dennis Muren presented from the stage to Harryhausen who appeared via video to thank VES for this honor. The event was hosted by Patton Oswalt.
Inception was the evening’s most honored project with four awards including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture. The animated feature film How to Train Your Dragon was honored with three awards including Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture — both films winning in every nominated category. Television’s big winner was The Pacific, also grabbing three honors.
The 9th Annual VES Awards will premiere on REELZCHANNEL Saturday, February 19 at 10 PM ET/PT with encore presentations throughout February.
Complete list of winners of the 9th Annual VES Awards:
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual-Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture
Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, …
Ever since the first Best Animated Feature category was included in the Oscars, and Dreamworks’ irreverent Shrek snagged the very first award in 2001, the annual race for top toon has been fiercely competitive. Of course animators were pleased by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ long overdue special recognition. But their worry is that no toon will ever win Best Picture now that the genre has its own prize.
Rich Ross didn’t greenlight Toy Story 3. But the recently promoted Walt Disney Studios chairman understands he has an obligation to the Disney/Pixar toon as if he did. “We’re going for the Best Picture win,” he affirmed. “The reviews have clearly said that it’s the best movie, and it’s the No. 1 box office hit of the year. It’s thrilling that there is a separate category for animation that allows animated movies to be recognized. But for some reason an animated film has never gotten Best Picture. We decided, if not this year, and not this movie, when?”
Toy Story 3 is one of the presumed frontrunners both for Best Animated Feature and Best Picture along with DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon. There have been only two Best Picture nominees ever: 1991’s Beauty And The Beast from Walt Disney Studios and last year’s Up from Disney/Pixar when the list of nominees was expanded from five to 10 for the first time since 1943. Neither won. “As far as Up last year, I think the strategy was you go for Best Picture and as a fallback end up as Best Animated Feature,” recalled Ross. “But with this movie, we wanted to come up with a campaign that kept our aspirations clear but at the same time used a tongue-in-cheek approach.”
To that end, Disney/Pixar has launched an ambitious advertising campaign aimed at Academy members to associate past Best Picture winners with Toy Story 3 by having the toon’s characters enact some iconic images from West Side Story, On The Waterfront, Shakespeare In Love, Titanic, and more. The campaign uses the phrase ’Not Since’ and even has sequels in its sight, mimicking The Godfather 2 and Lord Of The Rings 3 in a not-so-subtle attempt to remind voters that it’s time for another sequel to win. Of course, Ross and his counterpart at DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, have to overcome perceptions by many in the Academy that the Animated Feature category is enough recognition for this art form. But other genres of films like horror (Silence Of The Lambs) broke equally insurmountable barriers in terms of AMPAS perceptions that certain kinds of movies can’t win. “I feel very confident we have a movie everybody loves and I want to make sure with our campaign that people don’t feel the consolation prize is the appropriate prize for a movie like Toy Story 3,” Ross explained.
Jeffrey Katzenberg also makes the case for a toon winning Best Picture by pointing out that the three best reviewed films of the year (if you go by Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer) have been Toy Story 3 (99%) and How To Train Your Dragon (98%), plus Sony Pictures’ live action The Social Network (97%). Dragon producer Bonnie Arnold says about her toon, “It’s just a good movie that is in competition with other good movies, no matter what the medium, whether it’s live action, animation or whatever.” And Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich echoes: “We look at our films like every other film. Yes, it is animated and we’re working in a specific medium. But our approach is very much the same as live action – production design, costume design, casting of actors, scoring, editing. We’re making movies.”
Best Picture aspirations aside, the other frustration for animators is that Academy rules allow only three nominees in Best Animated Feature in any year when there are just 8 to 15 submissions deemed eligible. Sixteen and over qualifiers trigger five nominations, which has happened twice (in 2002 and last year). But on November 15th, the Academy announced that only 15 films were in the animation race this year, even though 2010 was considered an exceptionally strong year for toons. Since two of the nominees are expected to be Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon, only one slot is open.
Here is the shortlist of eligible Best Animated Feature entries in alphabetical order:
ALPHA AND OMEGA (Lionsgate) – If Lady And The Tramp were thrown to the wolves, it might look like this sweet Romeo and Juliet-style toon that only did modest box office business. Against the heavyweights, its prospects of landing a nom are weak.
The controversial 38th International Animated Film Society’s Annie Awards announced their nominees for Best Animated Feature today: Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Illusionist, and Disney’s Tangled and Toy Story 3. What the official press release didn’t mention is that Disney/Pixar is boycotting the awards and refusing to participate due to complaints they have about the voting process among other things. Though the Annies nominated two Disney films in the top category as well as directing and writing for Toy Story 3 (how could they avoid it and maintain cred?), the group gave Disney and Pixar only 7 mentions. But the Annies showered 15 nominations on DWA’s Dragon and 39 nods overall that included films like Megamind and Shrek Forever After. It’s interesting that there was no mention of vote totals in the ASIFA-Hollywood release. Hmm. Something’s wrong in Toonville, and both Disney/Pixar and the Annies have some explaining to do.
“Hosted” screenings by notables not directly connected to the movies in contention for awards seem to be rampant these days. For instance, at the DGA in Hollywood, Sean Penn moderated a Q&A Sunday with his 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Javier Bardem (who received a standing ovation) after a screening of Biutiful. Similar screenings for that film have been moderated by the likes of Werner Herzog and Robert Benton with upcoming unspoolings hosted by Michael Mann and Alfonso Cuaron. The DGA has a long tradition of inviting other directors to interview contenders. Joel Coen recently talked up Sofia Coppola after Somewhere screened in NYC while Alexander …
A Best Song nod could be Tangled’s best shot at Oscar recognition this year after today’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science confirmation that just 15 movies have qualified for Best Animated Feature. That’s one short of the 16 needed to trigger five nominations instead of three. With Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon virtually assured of two of those slots, it will be a real dogfight now for the third position. Tangled composer Alan Menken tells me that, to regain some winning momentum (and maybe tie Alfred Newman for the most music victories in Academy history), he plans to let Disney only submit one song from Tangled: the love ballad, “I See The Light”, sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, which he thinks has a better shot than some of the more up tempo tunes in the toon. This way, Menken doesn’t risk cancelling himself out again like what happened when his three nominated Enchanted songs were bested by “Falling Slowly” from Once.
He’s adamant about entering just one song even though Academy rules would now allow two. He also bemoans the fact that his score is ineligible due to a rule imposed after music branch complaints when Menken won all those previous Oscars. He does admit though that “if I weren’t me, I would probably be complaining too”. Menken is an 8-time Oscar winner for Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, The Little …
Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t mentioned in the release is the number that have been received so far at the Academy. A really good clue though is a letter I have learned that was sent late last week updating members and potential members of the Animation committee (the ones doing the voting) and informing them that 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category. Last year a flurry of last minute entries flooded the Acad offices and Oscar ‘toon watchers were hoping the same might miraculously happen this year. Academy rules state that in any year with 8 to 15 eligible entries there will be three nominations allowed but if it’s 16 or more there will be five contenders, as has happened twice (including last year) since the category was created in 2001 when Dreamworks’ Shrek became the first winner.
Dreamworks Animation has only won once since then (for releasing 2005’s Wallace & Gromit in The Curse Of The Were Rabbit) and is back in the game big time this year with its March release, How To Train Your Dragon but would also love to see its upcoming Megamind (Nov 5) in the …
The film’s international rollout helped lift third quarter results for DreamWorks Animation. The company reported total revenue of $188.9 million and net income of $39.8 million, an increase over the same quarter last year (in which it registered revenue of $135.4 million and net income of $19.6 million). Shrek Forever After, which was released on May 21, contributed $120.4 million of revenue in the quarter, mainly from overseas. In total, it grossed $238 million domestically and $497 internationally, making it the company’s highest ever international performer. In the 4th quarter, DreamWorks Animation will be releasing Megamind on November 5 and Shrek Forever After on DVD and Blu-ray on December 7. How To Train Your Dragon was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 15.
DreamWorks Animation Announces $150M Share Repurchase; Company Claims 2010 Will Be Biggest Box Office Year Yet
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30th that shows profits declined 6.2%. Without a new home entertainment DVD in the marketplace, costs outpaced box office gains since the theatrical release of films is the most expensive time of their sales cycle. Total revenue was $158.1 million and net income of $24.0 million, or $0.27 per share on a fully diluted basis. “Our strong second quarter was driven primarily by the blockbuster performances of Shrek Forever After and How to Train Your Dragon, two of the top 10 films of 2010 on both a domestic and a worldwide basis,” said CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “We have once again surpassed $1 billion in worldwide box office and with Megamind still to be released on November 5th, we are on track to make 2010 not only DreamWorks Animation’s single biggest year at the box office, but also the biggest year ever for any CG animation studio.”
The Company also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a new $150 million share repurchase program. For the six months ended June 30, 2010, the Company has repurchased approximately 3.1 million shares for approximately $111 million. I’ve previously reported that Katzenberg has been shopping DWA to several Big Media companies.
Shrek Forever After, which was released on May 21, 2010, contributed $51.8 million of revenue in the quarter, generated by its domestic box office performance as well as merchandising and licensing …
HOLLYWOOD, CA (June 29, 2010) – Paramount Pictures announced today the studio has crossed the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office, making it the first studio to accomplish the milestone this year. This marks the fourth year in a row that Paramount was the first studio to cross that plateau. Something no studio has done before. The studio currently holds the top spot in market share, with box office gross generated from five movies released thus far in 2010.
Based on figures through June 28th, Paramount has distributed four of 2010’s top ten grossing films. The year got off to a strong start with the Martin Scorsese thriller “Shutter Island” earning $128 million in the U.S., and also becoming the highest world-wide grossing film for the acclaimed director. Paramount followed with a string of strong releases, including Marvel Studio’s “Iron Man 2” ($306.9M) and DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon” ($215.4M) and “Shrek Forever After” ($229.4M).
“This milestone reflects the hard work of so many people,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “I especially want to thank Rob Moore, Frederick Huntsberry, and Adam Goodman. We are all so proud of our teams, how they have worked together as well as with our partners. This commitment, coupled with the terrific creative talent we are in business with – Michael Bay, JJ Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Jon Favreau, Jeffrey Katzenberg and his DreamWorks Animation – have made these results