DreamWorks Animation In Process Of Being Sold To Japan’s SoftBank

Yesterday evening, The Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Softbank, a Japanese conglomerate, was in talks to buy the animation leg of DreamWorks pictures. The estimated value of DreamWorks Animation as a result of the deal would be $3.4 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the deal in progress.

DreamWorks founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg would sign a five-year contract to remain with the company, according to the source, who says the DreamWorks board held an emergency meeting Thursday to consider the offer. SoftBank is said to have offered $32 a share and DreamWorks Animation stock closed on Friday at $22 per share.

DreamWorks Animation’s troubles seemed to start when the company went public. According to Deadline, the animated films DreamWorks Animation released often opened slowly and racked up big grosses over time. Unfortunately, every time this happened, investors unfamiliar with the way Hollywood works would panic and the stock would drop sharply.

It’s interesting to think that DreamWorks Animation might be faltering not so much on their features but on their investors. The studio has put out a consistent, quality product including films like the Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon franchises. As of August, the company’s feature films had made $12 billion collectively worldwide. The studio has so far received three Academy Awards along with numerous Annie & Emmy Awards, as well as multiple Golden Globe & BAFTA nominations. In recent years, the animation studio has acquired and created new divisions in an effort to diversify beyond the high-risk movie business.

DreamWorks Animation originated out of DreamWorks SKG, the movie studio formed by director and producer Steven Spielberg, music executive David Geffen and former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

DreamWorks SKG attracted many artists from Spielberg’s animation studio, Amblimation. In 1995, DreamWorks signed a co-production deal with Pacific Data Images to form subsidiary PDI, LLC. The new unit would produce computer-generated feature films beginning with Antz in 1998. In the same year, DreamWorks SKG produced The Prince of Egypt, which used both CG technology and traditional animation techniques.

DreamWorks teamed with Aardman Animations in 1997 – a British stop-motion animation studio – to co-produce and distribute Chicken Run, a stop-motion film already in pre-production. In 2000, DreamWorks SKG created a new business division, DreamWorks Animation, that would regularly produce both conventionally animated and CGI created films as well as stop-motion animation films.

In 2014, DreamWorks Animations feature releases included How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

image via Schmoesknow