Peter Bart, no longer the Big Kahuna at Variety but still holding a megaphone at the trade paper, speculates on possible corporate suitors for stand-alone DreamWorks Animation:
... Insiders say Time Warner is exploring a bid to acquire DreamWorks Animation, the publicly owned company that presently distributes its very successful films through Paramount. An "out clause" would permit DreamWorks Animation to terminate its Paramount deal next year provided it paid $150 million to that company or that one-third of DWA were acquired by another entity.
... Last week, veteran money manager Mario Gabelli told Barron's, "A round of consolidation will occur in the next six to 12 months because of the costs of financing, prints and advertising, the benefits of globalization and such. We hear talk of something going on."
Allow me to gaze into my crystal ball (handily embedded inside the Pegboard of Ollie Johnston's old animation desk) and give you the lowdown:
DreamWorks Animation will get gobbled up by one of the hungry conglomerates, and within the next two to three years. It's freaking inevitable because:.
1) DWA is the only successful animation studio not attached to an entertainment conglomerate, nad its pursuing the Pixarian business model of "Cash flow is predicated on every animated release being a hit."
2) DWA has built a strong animation track record and sizable 'toon library, both highly desirable things for the big entertainment congloms. It's also building a television presence after a false start thirteen years ago.
3) DWA is working to hold down costs and squeeze more efficiencies into its production pipeline. (This I know from first-hand experience.) The economizing will improve chances for wider profit margins, thus making the 'toon factory more enticing to those big entertainment companies.
4) Jeffrey K. loudly proclaims that he's not looking to merge with anybody ... much as Steve Jobs proclaimed Pixar's independence from Disney just before, you know, Disney gobbled Pixar up ... and Steve J. pocketed several billion dollars. (Jeffrey can do math, trust me.)
All this is as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow morning. I can't tell you the month and day a marriage will occur, and the current economic troubles might slow the nuptials a bit, but there is no way that a merger won't ultimately happen.