Don’t dream it, be it. With Dreamworks, anything is possible.
Dreamworks Animation is an animation studio out of the United States that’s now a subsidiary of Universal Pictures. Universal is a division of NBCUniversal, which itself is a subsidiary of Comcast. Over the last nearly thirty years, Dreamworks has released nearly forty feature films, in addition to its vast catalogue of related television products and alternate media properties.
Major releases from Dreamworks include How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, the Prince of Egypt, and Trolls. The company constantly has new media products in development.
Big Name Beginnings
This company was started in 1994 by famed director and producer Steven Spielberg, music executive David Geffen, and former Disney exec Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Dreamworks took the animation team from Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, called Amblimation. Katzenberg brought over some of the top talent in animation from Disney. Geffen supplied major contacts and content from the music industry. This milieu of talent would go on to create some of the most memorable and profitable animated characters of the next several decades.
Backing Away from the Drawing Board
Starting in 1995, the company began producing computer animated films. In some cases, as with the Prince of Egypt, both traditional and computer animation were used. Today, Dreamworks is entirely a CGI studio.
Dreamworks began a partnership with Aardman Animations in 1997. This British stop-motion animation studio was already highly successful, but Dreamworks gave it the budget and the distribution to move into worldwide feature films. The companies partnered for five films initially, starting with Chicken Run, which was released in the year 2000. This partnership went both ways, with Aardman participating in the development of CGI and traditionally animated films, while Dreamworks had its hand in the development and production of stop motion films.
Today, all films, including those from Aardman, are produced with computer generated animation. Many of these films retain their distinctive look of hand drawn or stop motion animation, however they are CGI.
Bought and Sold
In 2016, NBCUniversal bought Dreamworks Animation from its original owners for three point eight billion dollars. Dreamworks then became a division of the Universal Entertainment Group.
The company was worth the price. Over its run of production, Dreamworks films have grossed more than fifteen billion dollars worldwide. The company has an average gross per film of more than four hundred million dollars. It’s 2004 film Shrek 2 is one of the top fifty highest grossing films of all time.
The company has won three Academy Awards and forty-one Emmy Awards for its work in film and television. That’s in addition to a number of Annie Awards and Golden Globe awards. Many of its most highly regarded films were produced by Steven Spielberg.
Movies are a risky business as far as profit, which has led Dreamworks to diversify its holdings in an attempt to mitigate the potential losses in film. It has a major partnership with Netflix, which distributes television shows based on major Dreamworks properties like Trolls and How to Train Your Dragon. Though Dreamworks films were originally distributed by Dreamworks themselves, they have also been distributed by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Following the NBCUniversal buyout, all Dreamworks films have been distributed by Universal Pictures.
Making high quality animated films was always the mission of Dreamworks. Over the last three decades, that mission has most definitely been accomplished.