As many of you have probably heard, the independent animation studio DreamWorks Animation has been bought by Comcast (specifically NBCUniversal).
A lot of people are pretty nervous about this. Comcast isn’t a very popular company, and a lot of fans are worried on how this will effect future films. While I don’t think DWA is AS progressive as a lot of fans say it is, and they have released some pretty ridiculous movies, they do take some pretty bold risks a lot (my personal faves are Megamind being obviously q*eer coded without being demonized, Po being fat, and Hiccup being disabled) and can release great works of art (I want another Prince of Egypt style movie), and I would hate to see all that go away.
Right now, we’re not sure what’s going to happen. When I read THIS post (not a CB fan but this has good info) saying that DreamWorks was going to end up making only films for the small fry, I was pissed, and a lot a lot of respect for DreamWorks Animation because of that (and while I did enjoy Kung Fu Panda 3, I sometimes think it may have suffered from that; I noticed it was comparatively tame to the second movie). So my main concern right now is whether the new deal will reinforce this or encourage DreamWorks to continue to make more progressive films for all ages (not just toddlers).
But you know one thing that I’m absolutely, positively happy about with the new change?
That Chris Meledandri is taking over Jeffrey Katzenberg’s place.
Whether or not you’re a fan of anything Chris Meledandri produces, you have to admit, he’s always managed to make a hit. He gives his films modest budgets but lots of marketing and sets a clear target demographic, making sure people see the films his company (Illumination) makes. When I read THIS post (I know, another CB post, but hey, good info is good!) I was blown away utterly. This man is a genius. I get the impression that he genuinely loves and encourages creativity and doesn’t JUST care about making money. With him in charge of DWA, I can definitely see new life being breathed into the studio. I can definitely see their financial troubles diminishing for sure.
I’m not going to go on about Jeffrey Katzenberg (there’s a lot of info online that explains why he’s unpopular among the animation community), but I get the impression that he’s not very good at marketing/budgeting (at one point, he donated $10 million to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures along with Steven Spielberg, even though that money could’ve been used for his studio), and is more interested in franchises rather than original content. He’ll milk any film that is a good hit to death, even when the content created for it isn’t very good. In the span of 21 years, DWA has released 32 (!!) films, which gives me the impression that he’s more interested in rushing out films to make a quick buck than taking their time to create something that’s good and market it properly.
In short, while I do think Katzenberg cares, I don’t think he entirely knows HOW to care. Under his reign, his studio went from biggest animation company in the world next to Pixar to something that a lot of people don’t really care about. A lot of their franchises are better known for making money than being household names that people genuinely love (beyond the How To Train Your Dragon films) and as a whole the company has garnered a bad reputation of being crass and self-indulgent. That’s my theory, at least, as to why a lot of their films have been so unsuccessful and unpopular recently.
So I think with Chris Meledandri in charge, DWA can get a fresh start. My hope is that DWA will be allowed to make films with beautiful animation, clever stories, and progressive elements (not just for little babies) with better marketing, budgeting, and management, which in turn should lead to DWA becoming truly successful.
Only time will tell if the new deal and management will truly help DreamWorks Animation. But considering the looming threat of bankruptcy in the near future for the studio, this is probably going to better than their current state at any rate.