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Trivia / DreamWorks Animation

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  • Cash Cow Franchise: Up until its acquisition by Comcast/NBCUniveral, DreamWorks had to develop every successful property into one of these since it was an independent company specializing in high-budget animated films and hounded by unsatisfied stockholders. For instance the Shrek series has made over $2 billion from the four movies alone (and that's not counting merchandising), while Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon are becoming the company's new bedrock ones. When an animated film under-performs then it's cause for major concern and it makes front page headlines, whereas if the same thing happens to Disney Animation, Pixar, or Blue Sky (who are all owned by larger companies) then it's not treated as nearly that big of a deal (justified, given Disney makes much more revenue and income than DreamWorks). Since said acquisition, Trolls has become incredibly successful for them.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor:
    • One of the most notorious perpetrators of this trope. Every last one of their movies has an All-Star Cast (save for How to Train Your Dragon, and even that had Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson, who might not be all that famous, but are well-known in most circles).
    • Zigzagged with Toonsylvania. The cast of that show is a mix of professional voice actors (the ones like Billy Westnote , Tom Kenny, Kath Soucie, Cam Clarke, and Jim Cummings) and the celebrities who don't normally do voice-acting (Wayne Knight, Brad Garrett, David Warner, and Matt Frewer).
    • The Korean dub of the first Madagascar movie got local celebrity Song Kang-ho to voice Alex. However, Jeffrey Katzenberg admitted that he had never seen Song's movies but approved the casting when he got sent a voice reel of the actor's previous work.
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  • Channel Hop: As explained on the main page, after splitting with DreamWorks, Dream Works's films were still distributed by their former parent, until 2006, when Viacom bought DreamWorks and Paramount took over distribution until the end of 2012. After that, Dream Works moved to 20th Century Fox, who has distributed all films released from 2013 to 2017, as well as gaining the rights to the library beforehand when Dream Works bought out those rights from Paramount. After Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was released, DreamWorks Animation's future releases (as well as their back catalog) were exclusively distributed by new parent Universal from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World onward, with the company having officially taken over distribution of their back catalog in February 2018.
  • Creator's Apathy:
    • CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg had been trying to sell the studio off since Rise of the Guardians failed to turn a profit for the studio and ended its nearly decade-long financial winning streak. Around that time, Katzenberg sought to expand the studio's success by making risky acquisitions, most notably the purchase of Classic Media, the Trolls toys and the YouTube service AwesomenessTV. Meanwhile, their next films, such as Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Penguins of Madagascar ended up being financial failures despite recouping their budgets, leading to major write-downs. Coupled with failed takeover attempts by Hasbro and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, a massive reorganization at DreamWorks saw the closure of Pacific Data Images (who comprised of half the studio) and 500 jobs lost, ensuring that its glory days of being head-on competitors to Disney and Pixar had long passed. Nevertheless, Katzenberg continued his ventures in an attempt to have the company stay in the black, to mixed results, and oversaw two more films, Home and Kung Fu Panda 3, that somehow did turn a profit yet not enough to please shareholders. At that point he was about to say "screw it" and take the company private with the help of Chinese investment firm PAG Asia Capital, then Comcast's NBCUniversal unit came knocking on their door with $3.8 billion in their hands. Given the timing of the acquisition talks (a deal was reached after just thirteen days of negotiations), one has to wonder whether or not Katzenberg simply wanted to run the studio to the ground just so he could sell it to someone and silence the shareholders.
    • If analysts of the sale are to be believed, it seemed NBCUniversal's parent Comcast wasn't even interested at all in DreamWorks' film library. The main motive for buying the studio? To gain access to DreamWorks' intellectual property to add to NBCUniversal's content portfolio, meaning that all Comcast cared about was to milk their property in order to expand their revenue. In a way the priorities behind the deal are reminiscent of Comcast's failed $54 billion bid for Disney in 2004; after the buyout was rejected it was revealed that Comcast wasn't interested in Disney for its studio or theme parks or even its intellectual property - rather Comcast was only interested in Disney for ESPN, the company's biggest cash cow at the time.
  • Old Shame: After Shrek became a hit, DreamWorks more or less apologized for their 2D films and have buried them in their history, though they've garnered a cult following for non-Disney enthusiasts since then. As for their CGI projects, their short-lived prime-time sitcom Father of the Pride has basically vanished from the face of the earth.
  • Start My Own: Jeffrey Katzenberg started up the studio after Disney repeatedly rejected his push for more adult-friendly content, specifically the infamous "Black Friday" version of Toy Story (this version of the film, which was a bit Darker and Edgier in what some have said was an alleged attempt to spite Katzenberg, nearly derailed the project as a whole). Katzenberg had attempted to get The Prince of Egypt going at Disney, but for obvious reasons (his falling out with Eisner, Disney never really being good with content from the Bible), it didn't go anywhere until DreamWorks was founded.
  • Throw It In!: A few of the background jokes (like the "Utah Teapot") in "Homer3" were added in by the companynote .
  • What Could Have Been:
    • PDI (pre-Dreamworks) had plans for a feature-length CGI movie as early as 1985. It never happened due to money issues.
    • John Kricfalusi was nearly hired to work for them, but after meeting the executives, who wanted him to conform to the studio's style, he backed out. Kricfalusi highlighted this event in his blog.
    • There are dozens of whole films that were never made. These include Punk Farmnote  and Truckersnote .
    • Another project, Monkeys of Mumbai, was to be a musical featuring songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Tarzan's Kevin Lima, but sat at Dream Works for years, until Sony Pictures Animation picked up the project as Vivo, to be directed by The Croods' Kirk DeMicco.
    • In the mid-2000s, they came this close to creating a property based on Miss Chevious, a character from an extremely obscure 80s black-and-white comic (Tales From The Aniverse). Given DreamWorks' muscle, it could easily have lifted a 6-issue furry comic from the 80s to prominence, but apparently someone high up the ladder didn't understand the treatment written by the comic's creator.
    • Before DreamWorks Animation was ultimately acquired by NBCUniversal in 2016, there were multiple companies who tried to purchase the studio prior:
      • Japanese media giant SoftBank had plans to purchase DreamWorks Animation in 2014, but for whatever reason the deal fell through, instead investing in Legendary Pictures, which ironically had another ex-Walt Disney Studios chairman, Dick Cook, on their board.
      • Hasbro considered merging with DreamWorks Animation in 2014 as well, but quickly pulled out after Hasbro's stock lost $300 million in value the day after the announcement and because Dream Works's high asking price of $35 per share when their current value was considerably less and falling was too much for themnote . Disney also wasn't terribly wild about the idea after they had sealed their own deal with Hasbro a month priornote ; Hasbro never discussed the merger with them, although to be fair, the details of the intended merger were from a letter that someone leaked to the press, meaning there may have been different plans.

        An SEC filing published after the NBCUniversal agreement confirmed the talks between the two (with Hasbro being identified as "Company B") were indeed being made. It turned out that the asking price from Dream Works and Disney's intervention had little to do with the merger falling apart, and that the talks being reported publicly on news sites shot the merger down because it violated a confidentiality agreement the two parties signednote .
      • Warner Bros. also considered buying the studio, but it went nowhere.
      • Dalian Wanda group, who owns the AMC theater chain, had also discussed an acquisition of Dream Works, but it never got serious; Dalian Wanda acquired Legendary Pictures altogether and eventually declared war on Disney in China without DreamWorks Animation.
      • Employees of Sony Pictures reportedly pressured studio executives to try to acquire Dream Works in hopes of bolstering its animation unit and increase profits. Like the Warner Bros. example above, the talks ended up going nowhere. Before that, Sony was in talks to distribute Dream Works's films when the Paramount deal was coming to an end.
      • Katzenberg considered returning to Paramount after hearing that Viacom considered selling the studio, but the deal never happened.
      • The last move before the sale to Comcast was Katzenberg talking with Chinese investor PAG Asia to return the company to being private with Katzenberg still at the wheel. The deal was not all that much, however, and Comcast/Universal immediately trumped the offer before it could be finalized.
    • After NBCUniversal bought Dream Works in 2016, they wanted to have Illumination Entertainment's Chris Meledandri to spearhead both studios in the same vein as former Disney/Pixar Animation Chief Creative Officer, John Lasseter. Feeling content as CEO of Illumination, Meledandri declined the offer, taking it as a "compliment", and decided to take a consultant role instead.
    • The studio, at one point, worked on an animated musical titled Larrikins directed by Tim Minchin, taking place in the Land Downunder and starring anthropomorphic Australian Wildlife. When the movie got cancelled, its characters got recycled for the short film Bilby instead.
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