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What happens to DreamWorks Studios or DreamWorks Animation?
20 years after Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg formed DreamWorks is the dream about to end? Now two separate entities, privately owned DreamWorks Studios and publicly traded DreamWorks Animation, each appears at a crossroads. DreamWorks Studios, still under the creative leadership of Steven Spielberg, lost respected CEO Stacey Snyder to 20th Century Fox and is down to two to three films a year. To say it's a shadow of what it was before moving from Paramount to Disney is an understatement. DWA has had very disappointing domestic returns since jumping distribution partners from Paramount Pictures to 20th Century Fox in late 2012 (they wouldn't call it a disaster, but it's close). Now, the Katzenberg run entity had been in merger talks with Hasbro, but the latter company's board decided to end those discussions. While DWA has attempted to diversify its revenue streams in Television, short form content (Awesomeness TV) and consumer products, rumblings of a potential merger with another entity have only gotten stronger over the past 12 months.
Likely outcome: As long as Spielberg is around he seems intent on keeping a live action DreamWorks brand alive. The studio has three films this year including another "Ring" ("Rings") and two awards players in Derek Cianfrance's "The Light Between Oceans" and Spielberg's own "Untitled Cold War Thriller." If two out of three of those can be big hits that will help tremendously with industry perception. DWA, on the other hand, may have a rough year with non-sequel titles "Home" and "B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations" fighting in a very crowded marketplace. Expect even more merger and acquisition talk in 2015.
- Gregory Ellwood