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DreamWorks Animation, LLC
Dreamworks turbo logo 2013
Type Label of DreamWorks Studios
Industry Animated films
Founded August 30, 1934 (as Wilson Cartoon Studio)
Founders Dora Elysian Wilson
Mike O. Wilson
Headquarters Glendale, California, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Chris DeFaria (President)

Abhijay Prakash (COO)

Chris Meledandri (Senior Advisor)

Products Theatrical/direct-to-video animated short films

Theatrical/direct-to-video animated feature films

Owner DreamWorks Studios
Parent NBCUniversal (Comcast)
Former names Wilson Cartoon Studio (1934-1937)
Dora Wilson Productions (1938-1954)
DW Cartoon Department (1955-1959)
DreamWorks Cartoon Studio (1960-1979)
DreamWorks Animation Studios (1980-1985)
DreamWorks Feature Animation (1986-1990)

DreamWorks Animation, LLC (more commonly known as DreamWorks Animation and DreamWorks Animation SKG, or shortly DWA) is an American animation studio and the animation arm of DreamWorks Studios, a subsidiary of Universal Studios, a division of Comcast through its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal.

It is based in Glendale, California and produces animated feature films, television programs and online virtual games. The studio has currently released an continuous line-up of animated feature films, including the franchises Headin' South, All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Dreamtoons Movie, Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon and other hits including Elefriend, TrapitoWonderland, Trolls, Paulie, Shrek, The Cat in the Hat, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Hotel for Dogs, Monsters vs. Aliens, Rise of the Guardians, The Croods, HomeThe Boss Baby and Captain Underpants.

It was founded on August 30, 1934 as Wilson Cartoon Studio, founded by Dora Elysian Wilson, along with her older brother Mike Ollie Wilson, as it was exclusively produced cartoon short films and formerly animated advertisement films for various products just as Coca-Cola, and others. Later, the studio then expanded into feature production in 1938, starting with its first film Headin' South in 1942. In 1949, the studio also expanded itself to produce live-action productions, such as short series of live-action shorts, and later to its continuous line-up of live-action feature films, with its first being 1955's The Road to El Dorado. During that time where the studio formed into DW Film Company and created divisions such as DreamWorks Pictures, the studio's nameless animation department was named into DW Cartoon Department (1955-1959), DreamWorks Cartoon Studio (1960-1979), DreamWorks Animation Studios (1980-1986) and DreamWorks Feature Animation (1987-1990).

In October 1994, Dora Elysian Wilson retired from DreamWorks Studios as she sold her studio to the current founder of Amblin Entertainment Steven Spielberg, former Walt Disney Studios' chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, and music editor for Geffen Records David Geffen to take over as the new CEOs for DreamWorks, along with its divisions. DreamWorks also hires Amblin Entertainment's former animation branch Amblimation alumni to work at its animation division, as most old DreamWorks Animation staff members passed away and/or retire.

DreamWorks Animation currently maintains its Glendale campus, as well as satellite studios in Argentina, India and China. On August 22, 2016, Comcast acquired DreamWorks Studios (which included DreamWorks Animation) for $3.8 billion, making it a division of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

Currently, DreamWorks Animation continues to produce films using both traditional animation and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The studio has earned 200 Academy Awards, as well as 60 Emmy Awards and numerous Annie Awards, and multiple Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

Films produced by DreamWorks Animation were formerly distributed worldwide by its parent company DreamWorks Pictures, from 1955 to 2005, Paramount Pictures from 2006 to 2012, and 20th Century Fox from 2013 to 2017. Universal Pictures now distributes subsequent DreamWorks Animation films, which began on June 1, 2018 with the release of Busytown, as well as now owning the rights to its back catalogue.

History

Dora Wilson era (1934-1994)

On August 30, 1934, Dora Elysian Wilson, along with Mike Ollie Wilson, her brother, founded Wilson Cartoon Studio in Glendale, CA, after defunct and left her first company in New York, New York Comic Studio. During the same year, it got started producing a series of cartoon short films starring the studio's first animated star Joey Kangaroo (formerly known as Kangaroo Kid) for Monogram Pictures  as its distributor for three years, as well as producing advertisement cartoons for various products like Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Ford, etc.

Two years later, Wilson created Lil' Mule as its new character, and his series along with the Joey Kangaroo series were combined into a series of cartoons known as Joey Kangaroo's Funny Adventures. Around the late 1930s, Joey Kangaroo's Funny Adventures was renamed to Dreamtoons after introducing a new cast of characters such as Goldy Locks and Five Funny Foxes, and started to produced non-Dreamtoons shorts since 1940 with the release of TBD.

In 1938, the studio started to begin expanding by focusing developing its first animated feature film, after being caught the attention by Hollywood's first full-length animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was produced a year ago by Walt Disney Productions. During the same year, Dora Wilson pleased her new distributor Republic Pictures to distribute her first cartoon feature, but due to Republic's refusal, Works then asked Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for its distribution only for her studio's feature films, which MGM accepted as it let its own animation house to join partnership with Dora Wilson Productions.

Dora Wilson's first animated film was Headin' South, which told the story about a young duckling who is attempting to go south with the other ducks, took three years in production. The original plan for the film's release was around late 1941 but pushed to 1942. During the production of Headin' South, another project, Land After Dinosaurs, also began it production originally as a feature film as well, which latter was originally pitched to be realistic, due to animation being demonstrated of realism, including Walt Disney already did with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (by animated the human characters) and his new animated feature that was in development of that time Bambi. Also, the tone of Land After Dinosaurs was pitched to be darker and more serious, inspired by Walt Disney's Fantasia segment The Rite of Spring, until however it got changed into a cartoony-look comical-tone featurette due to the budget cuts before it got released on early 1942.

However, following a day after Headin' South was completed, the attack on Pearl Harbor had struck in United States during World War II. Dora Wilson, however, didn't have anymore discussion but never have her first feature animated film to be shelved for its long delay or cancellation, as she demanded it for it releasing in theaters due to the film's completion and its release deadline.

On November 11, 1942, Headin' South was released which, like most animated films in the time (Walt Disney's Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi, Max Fleischer's Mr. Bug Goes to Town, etc.), received positive critical reception, but was a box-office failure due to World War II, and was not released outside from America until 1946, which it became into a classic and became into one of the best animated films ever.

After the release of Headin' South, the studio then began to focus mostly war-related cartoons, which included training films aimed exclusively to the US army, such as the 1944 short For the Victory, another collaboration with MGM under its cartoon department, directed by Tex Avery, which was originally intended to be the first short of a planned series of war-training animated featurettes titled Cartoons of Propaganda, that would educate various war-related topics in a humorous take. In 1945, only For the Victory was released a year before World War II ended, which led the rest of Cartoons of Propaganda shorts to be forever canceled. During the same year, Dora Wilson Productions began development for its next animated feature, Toyland (based on Victor Herbert's popular 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland), which unlike Headin' South, it was the first time to be independently produced and animated by the studio without the help of MGM's cartoon studio.

In 1947, Dora Wilson Productions produced its last animated feature project with MGM which was the seasonal film The Christmas Tales, an package film which meant to compete Walt Disney's animated package movies during that era. During the same year, due to creative differences and moved on to its new contract deal with Warner Bros., Dora Wilson Productions end its partnership with MGM, along with the rights to Headin' South (since MGM refuse to renew the film's rights) and the rights to the almost-completed Toyland, which was originally pitched to MGM to release it.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dora Wilson Productions had expand to produce live-action short films beginning with Merry Marionette Theater (1949-1970), which contains many different shorts that all with a use in marionette puppets, as well as the others until 1977. In order for the studio to focus on both mediums, the studio built a second separate felicity for its live-action productions, under its lot name DW-LA, located at Universal City, while its animation department remains its location in Glendale. During the same time, three of Dora Wilson's animated films: a package film Here Comes Bozo the Clown, a western musical Burro, and a film adaptation of George Orwell's satire novella Animal Farm (which the latter is being co-produced by Halas and Batchelor) and a featurette The Tin Soldier, were released by Warner Bros., while the Dreamtoons shorts remained distributed by Republic Pictures, both until 1955.

In the same year, Dora Wilson decided to distributing the studio's projects by itself. TBD

TBD

Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen (SKG) era (1994-2016)

On October 12, 1994, Dora E. Wilson has come to her retirement after selling out her company to film director and producer Steven Spielberg, former Walt Disney Pictures executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and music executive David Geffen. Spielberg brought over artists from his London-based studio, Amblimation, while Katzenberg recruited some of his top animation staff from Disney, to take the place of old DreamWorks animation staffs, after most of them went to retirement and/or passed away. Some of Amblimation's artists came to DreamWorks in 1995, when the studio's last feature, Balto was completed, with the rest doing so following the studio's closure in 1997.

In 1995, DreamWorks signed a co-production deal with Pacific Data Images to form subsidiary PDI, LLC (PDI owned 60% of PDI, LLC, while DreamWorks Studios owned 40%). This new unit would produce computer-generated feature films, beginning with Antz in 1998. In the same year DreamWorks produced The Prince of Egypt, which used both CGI technology and traditional animation techniques.

In 1997, DreamWorks was in the talks with Nick Parr's Aardman Animations to co-produce and distribute Chicken Run (2000), a stop-motion animated film already in pre-production. Two years later they extended the deal for four additional films. With Aardman doing stop-motion, the studio covered all three major styles, besides traditional and computer animation. This partnership had DreamWorks participating in the production of stop-motion films in Bristol, and also had Aardman participating in some of the CGI films produced in the United States.

Three years later, DreamWorks acquired majority interest (90%) in PDI, and reformed it into PDI/DreamWorks, the Northern California branch of its new business division. In May 2000, Dora Wilson passed away in her age of 97.

In 2001, Shrek was released and went on to win the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Due to the success of CGI animated films, DWA decided the same year to focus on both hand-drawn animation and CGI animation. In 2004, the releases of Puss in Boots and Shark Tale also made DWA the first studio to produce two CGI animated features in a single year.

On January 31, 2006, DreamWorks Studios entered into a distribution agreement with Paramount Pictures to purchase the worldwide rights to distribute all the films, including previously released films until the delivery of 13 new animated feature films and TBD live-action films.

DreamWorks' partnership with Aardman ended after the release of Flushed Away in November 2006, having delivered three out of five films. The announcement was made before the film's release, on October 3, citing "creative differences". DreamWorks retained the co-ownership to all films co-produced with Aardman, with the only exception being Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), which starred Aardman-owned characters Wallace & Gromit and for which they only kept the worldwide distribution rights.

On March 13, 2007, DreamWorks announced it would release all of its animated films, beginning with Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), in stereoscopic 3D. Together with Intel, they co-developed a new 3D film-making technology, InTru 3D.

In 2008, DreamWorks extended its production for DreamWorks Animation pipeline into Bangalore, India, where they established a special unit within Technicolor, named DreamWorks Dedicated Unit. The unit is owned by Technicolor, but DreamWorks hires and trains the animators, who then contribute to DreamWorks projects. DDU at first worked only on TV specials, such as Merry Dreamtoons (2009), Dreamtoons' Spooky Halloween Tales (2010), and DVD projects. Eventually they started contributing to DreamWorks' feature films as well, beginning with animating part of the CGI/live-action film The Smurfs (2011).

Since 2009, DreamWorks Animation has been a regular guest on the list of Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For. As the only entertainment company on the list, they ranked 47th in 2009, 6th in 2010, 10th in 2011, 14th in 2012, and 12th in 2013. During the same year, DreamWorks Pictures made a deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures to internationally distribute its feature films aimed at mature audience, while Paramount announced for its continuation of releasing DreamWorks' family films until 2012.

n July 2012, DreamWorks won a $155 million bid to acquire Classic Media, which includes re-acquiring the rights to the four animated films which the company had co-produced with Rankin/Bass, to the DreamWorks Classics banner. In August 2012, DreamWorks Animation formed a joint venture with Chinese investment companies to establish a Shanghai-based entertainment company, named Oriental DreamWorks, to develop and produce original Chinese films and their derivatives.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, DreamWorks Pictures was in talks with Sony Pictures to distribute its upcoming family films, which included animated family films such as the 2013 releases of The Croods, The Smurfs 2: Misadventure in ParisTurbo, etc. The report also mentioned a possibility where Sony would handle the United States distribution while 20th Century Fox would handle the international distribution. Renewal of the deal with Paramount was also open, but only with more favorable terms for Paramount (they even offered a one-year extension of the deal, but Katzenberg desired to get a better deal). In August 2012, DreamWorks signed a five-year distribution deal with 20th Century Fox for all territories. However, the deal did not include the distribution rights of previously released films, which DreamWorks re-acquired from Paramount later in 2014. Rise of the Guardians (2012) was the last DreamWorks family film to be distributed by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation's The Croods became the first DreamWorks family film film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox.

On April 11, 2013, DreamWorks Pictures announced that it has acquired the intellectual property for the Trolls franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things, since the company found success of its 1994 animated film version. DreamWorks Animation, which has "big plans for the franchise", has become the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights, except for Scandinavia, where Dam Things remains the licensor. In the same year, the studio announced a CGI/live-action remake of Trolls.

In June, the rights to Felix the Cat were acquired by DreamWorks Classics from Felix the Cat Productions, owned by Don Oriolo. DreamWorks then purchased Paramount's distribution rights to the pre-2013 library in July, and since then, DreamWorks Pictures' then-distribution partners with both Disney and 20th Century Fox has distributed the library on their behalf until 2018, in which DreamWorks' sister studio Universal Pictures has assumed these responsibilities.

The studio was reported to be acquired two separate times in late 2014. First, in September it was reported that the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank was in talks to acquire DreamWorks for a price of $3.4 billion, but the next day, it was reported that SoftBank had withdrawn its offer. Next on November 12, it was reported that Hasbro was in talks to buy DreamWorks' animation library (and DreamWorks Animation itself, which would've folded into Hasbro Studios) for Hasbro Studios in November, which could lead to DreamWorks Pictures to produced only live-action films if the deal was done, but neither Hasbro nor DreamWorks publicly comment on mergers and acquisitions. Two days later, the talks were reported to have failed through, as Steven Spielberg refused to sell DreamWorks' animation facility, since it was the one that the studio had started off with since its founding, as he stated, "it's like if other companies would make their acquisition deal with Disney for buying its animation division and its animation library from it. Because if does, it'd distory the reputation of what the company is known for, and same would DreamWorks".

In December 2014, DreamWorks sold a 25% stake in AwesomenessTV for $81.25 million to the Hearst Corporation.

On January 5, 2015, DreamWorks Studios announced that Bonnie Arnold, producer of the How to Train Your Dragon series and Mireille Soria, producer of the The Dreamtoons Movie series were named co-presidents of the studio's animation division. At the same time, it was also announced that Bill Damaschke will step down from his position as Chief Creative Officer. So far, under Arnold and Soria's current tenure they signed Jason Reitman and Edgar Wright to work on their own animation debuts. Two weeks later, PDI/DreamWorks completely shut down as part of its parent company's larger restructuring efforts.

Comcast era (2016-present)

On April 28, 2016, Comcast officially announced that its NBCUniversal division intended on acquiring DreamWorks Studios for $3.8 billion, valuing the company at $41 per share. Jeffrey Katzenberg was to remain involved in the company as head of DreamWorks New Media, but was to cede control of the studio to Illumination Entertainment's CEO Chris Meledandri, who would oversee both Illumination and DreamWorks Animation. The sale was approved by board members, but subject to regulatory approval.

At Guggenheim Partners' TMT Symposium, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke discussed how the purchase of DreamWorks would fit into its business strategies. Burke explained that Meledandri planned to "take a lot of the existing DreamWorks Animation's films and franchises and add value as we create new franchises", and that the main goal was to "[take] the low-single-digit returns of the movie business and turn it into a different kind of business" by creating new intellectual property that can be merchandised and adapted into theme park attractions. Burke reaffirmed a commitment to animated features, stating that Universal would be able to release as many as four or six animated films per-year, divided between DreamWorks Animation and Illumination. Burke also outlined that the purchase would be beneficial to Universal's expanding presence in China (where it is building a new Universal Studios park in Beijing). Two of DreamWorks' last family films with 20th Century Fox were the computer animated film Captain Underpants and a CGI/live-action remake of Elefriend, both released in 2017. DreamWorks' first animated film with Universal Pictures was Busytown, which was released in 2018. Other animated films such as Trolls World TourThe Croods 2The Boss Baby 2 and Spooky Jack are in the development.

On June 21, 2016, the acquisition was approved by the United States Department of Justice. The purchase was closed on August 22, 2016; DreamWorks Studios and its divisions are now operate as a division of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

Although a spokesperson stated that Meledandri would work with Universal Pictures to determine "the most effective path forward for Illumination and DreamWorks Animation", he did not take over DreamWorks' animation label as was previously announced, but will instead be a consultant at the studio, and the two studios remain separate. Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria retained their positions as co-presidents of DreamWorks Animation, while Margie Cohn will lead DreamWorks Television's animation division for the entire Universal Pictures group. DreamWorks' digital, marketing, consumer products, and gaming divisions will be absorbed into NBCUniversal.

On December 21, 2016, Mireille Soria stepped down from her position as co-president of DreamWorks' Feature Animation division.

In January 2017, Christopher DeFaria joined DreamWorks Studios in the newly created position of president of the DreamWorks Feature Animation Group. As president, DeFaria will oversee all aspects of DWA's feature animation business, including slate strategy, development, production; innovation and technology; and business affairs.

On August 1, 2017, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation and Blumhouse Productions would be working on Blumhouse's first animated film, Spooky Jack. The film is set to be released on September 17, 2021.

On October 6, 2017, it was announced that Abhijay Prakash would be COO of DWA.

On November 13, 2017, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation had started a shorts program, called DreamWorks Shorts, which will show original animated short films before DreamWorks' animated feature films, much akin to what Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios do for their feature films. The first short film to be produced under the program was Bird Karma, which will premiere in Spring 2019.

On February 2, 2018, CMC Capital Partners bought DreamWorks', Shanghai Media Group's, and Shanghai Alliance Investment's stakes in Oriental DreamWorks, owning the studio in its entirety; Oriental DreamWorks was then renamed Pearl Studio. Pearl Studio will still collaborate with DreamWorks to produce the then- upcoming film, Abominable, with the film's original director, Jill Culton, returning.

On February 27, 2018, DreamWorks Animation announced that Kelly Betz has been promoted as Chief Financial Officer.

On May 2, 2018, Hulu (owned by Disney 60%, NBCUniversal 30% and WarnerMedia 10%) announced its first-ever license deal with DreamWorks Studios, becoming the exclusive streaming home for future DWA feature films, as well as library films. DWA had streamed exclusively through Netflix since 2013.

On July 25, 2018, Viacom Media Networks announced that it was in talks to acquire AwesomenessTV for a fraction of the company's $650 million valuation in 2016. Two days later on July 27, 2018, Viacom officially acquired AwesomenessTV for $25–50 million and integrated the company into Viacom Digital Studios. Jordan Levin will leave his position as CEO following the acquisition. However, the deal does not include the DreamWorksTV YouTube channel, which is still retained by NBCUniversal, where it will be integrated into NBCU Digital Enterprises Group, a new digital entertainment division led by President Maggie Suniewick. On July 30, 2018, Variety reported that the deal is worth at least $50 million.

On January 9, 2019, Christopher DeFaria stepped down from his position as president of DreamWorks' animation label, with DreamWorks Animation Television head Margie Cohn promoted to oversee all film and television operations. In that same year, NBCUniversal's acquisition of DreamWorks Studios was often compared to Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox.

Partnerships

Franchises

Titles Movies Release years
Headin’ South 4 1942–present
Animal Farm 2 1954–2001
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 2 1964–present
Friendly 1 1968–2011
Frosty the Snowman 3 1969–present
Lancy, Rascal and Battly

17 (appearances in main DWA films)

2 (spin-off films)

1970–present
Peter Cottontail 2 1971–present
Elefriend 1 1974–present
Wonderland 1 1988–2019
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 1989–1998
The Dreamtoons Movie TBD 1992–present
Trolls 2 1994–present
The Prince of Egypt 2 1998–2000
Shrek 3 2001–2010
Spirit 1 2002–present
The Cat in the Hat 2 2003–2007
Puss in Boots 2 2004–present
Kung Fu Panda 3 2008–present
Monsters vs. Aliens 1 2009–2014
How to Train Your Dragon 3 2010–2019
The Croods 2 2013–present
Harvey Street Kids 2 2015–present
The Berenstain Bears 2 2016-present
The Boss Baby 2 2017–present
The Splatoon Movie 3 2022–present

Filmography

List of DreamWorks Animation productions

Animation services

Animation services

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