Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Broader Appeal

While we're on the subject of DreamWorks Animation.

... The DreamWorks Animation chief[Jeffrey Katzenberg] sounded like he’d prefer to have a root canal than talk to analysts about how his studio hopes to avoid another failure like Mr. Peabody & Sherman — which just resulted in a $57M write-down for Q1. Three of the studio’s past four films failed to deliver, Jeffrey Katzenberg noted, which he blamed on “inconsistent execution” and other factors tied to marketing and scheduling.

As the market for kids’ films becomes more competitive, ”we have to focus on the creative side of the business” to find “ideas that have the broadest global appeal” and stand out as must-see experiences. “Playability honestly is just not enough today. … We feel a different level of criteria in terms of the ideas we’re picking and the marketing of the ideas.” He’s hot on sequels and says DWA has more in the pipeline than ever, with plans to release at least one a year. ...

Hot on sequels? Every studio is hot on sequels. They make lots of money, so of course our fine entertainment conglomerates are hot. ...

DWA's problem is that, after a long winning streak where DreamWorks' animated films routinely made big money domestically and good money overseas (and often more than good), their bats have gone cold. Rise of the Guardians, Turbo, and now Mr. Peabody and Sherman have all under-performed at the global box office.

And when the viability of your company is tied to creating hit movies, flop movies can be a problem.

Happily, DreamWorks Animation recognizes that it needs to diversify. A feature (or three) that posts a loss can cause this recognition to come sooner rather than later.


Grant said...

No problem with sequels, if they're great. HTTYD 2 looks to be far superior to the original, which was pretty disjointed. Decent, considering how it was pulled out of the fire by director Dean Dublois. And now he's on from the beginning, writing and directing.

But the answer is not to market test. The only sure way to fail is to try and please everyone, which DW continually attempts to do. The property should drive the marketing, not the other way around.

Steve Hulett said...

Chris Sanders co-directed "How to Train Your Dragon."

Grant said...

Yeah. But Dublois was the one who drove it forward. That much is an indisputable fact. Sanders is talented, even if he's less interested in story than he is in design

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