El Lakeside building ...
As I've noted previously, DreamWorks Animation has expanded the Lakeside Building on its Glendale campus, almost doubling the square footage. A goodly portion of the campus's animation production is now inside Lakeside, and it's a challenge to navigate all of the hallways, cubicles and offices without getting hopelessly lost (at least for me.)
So yesterday I concocted a plan ...
Instead of strolling through the front entrance and blundering aimlessly between cubes and office spaces in my usual stumble bum way ("Wasn't I here fifteen minutes ago? I knew your face and table lamp looked familiar ...") I stepped off the elevator and made a conscious effort to turn hard right, then work my way counter-clockwise through the maze of work areas until I got back to where I started.
It worked. (Kind of.) I saw a lot more people than during earlier visits and even ran across a bunch of former Disney Feature Animation employees -- all of whom, for some strange reason, were down on their previous employer:
"I was there three years and didn't have a good experience. Everybody in production gets treated like temporary hires."
"When the new management came in, they wanted to the studio to do Princess movies, hand-drawn movies, have everything styled like Disney features from the late forties and early fifties. The Princess movies didn't go over too well ..."
"They got rid of the Personal Service Contracts, and everything got worse. Nobody knew how long they'd be there. I have friends there now who have gotten their layoff notices. And nobody else knows how long they'll be staying. There's not much in the production pipeline."
Like I say, disgruntled folks.
As I've mentioned before, one of the differences between Walt Disney Animation Studios and DreamWorks Animation over the last few years is the level and depth of development. DreamWorks Animation just has a lot of project development going on with a lot of story artists, while WDAS has relatively little. (This, I'm happy to report, is changing a bit. More Disney development appears to be going on, but the Mouse still has a big gap between current projects -- Tangled, Winnie the Pooh -- and the next set of features that will roll into the production chute.)
Meanwhile, Disney/Pixar's and DreamWorks Animation's current releases churn through the World Box Office:
Toy Story 3 grossed more in four days [in Hong Kong] than its main competitor, Dreamworks Animation’s “Shrek Forever After”, did in more than two weeks. The green ogre’s fourth and final appearance at multiplexes managed to take HK$3.5 million in its third weekend and came in third in the top 10, with a combined gross of HK$25.1 million. ...
Disney's Pixar subsidiary makes profitable features; Jeffrey K.'s DreamWorks Animation makes profitable features. The challenge going forward is getting Walt Disney Animation Studios back into the profits game.