If you listen closely, you can hear a hint of pessimism in the predictions of Steve Hulett, business rep of the Animation Guild, about what will happen after NBCUniversal completes its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation. Thanks to the Walt Disney Co.'s 2006 purchase of Pixar Animation Studios, for example, Hulett has seen versions of this movie before.
"Usually they spend a period of time trying to soothe nervous hearts," says Hulett of acquirers. "They lie to the crew because they've got a picture to get out, and they can't have people jumping ship. … They use whatever argument they can use to calm you down." ...
We've discussed this with a few DWA employees, and it appears as if the television side of the biz is in good shape. In fact, the television side of DreamWorks Animation's business, appears to be a large part of the reason that Comcast-Universal desired the acquisition. The conglomerate has a cable network to program and DWA's growing cartoon library looks to be -- once the Netflix obligation runs its course, ready-made for C-U.
What will happen to feature animation production in Glendale is murkier and more uncertain. Our assumption is that more production will sooner or later be shipped to the land of snowy winters and Free Money, but this merger ... if approved by the government ... won't finalize until the end of the year and the word we've picked up is that work on current feature projects is "full steam ahead".