Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jeffrey Moves To Tech ... And Meledandri Ponders

Mr. Katzenberg journeys on with his life (DreamWorks employees tell me he's been very relaxed in and around the DWA campus). Chris Meledandri works to figure out what he wants to do as regards Universal-Comcast's newest subsidiary.

... NBCUniversal's $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation appears to be rolling along at a faster-than-expected clip and could close as early as late August, according to sources. Once that happens, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is expected to pursue a technology-centric venture at the intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, with offices close to his Beverly Hills home. ...

DreamWorks animators are said to be somewhat anxious about the company's future though perhaps also soothed by word that Universal will greenlight two DWA films a year. For 2019, sources say those will be Shrek 5 and a creation from Edgar Wright and David Walliams titled Shadows. ...

An associate says the question [Chris] Meledandri is pondering is: "Should he take time away from his own things [work on DreamWorks Animation projects] or focus on what he's doing [Illumination Entertainment]? He's certainly not going to let his own people be deprived of enough of his attention and suffer." In 2016, there already are more demands on him than usual because, for the first time, Illumination is releasing two movies in one year: Pets and Sing (Dec. 21), with voice talent including Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey.

Unlike John Lasseter, who now oversees both Pixar and Disney Animation, Meledandri doesn't have a management guru like Ed Catmull to run his company or a bench comparable with that of the Pixar brain trust ...

NBCU management hopes Meledandri is going through what they call his "process" and eventually will become a key player at DWA. For now, studio chief Donna Langley is said to be immersing herself in DreamWorks' business, recently lunching with Katzenberg at The Grill on the Alley and setting meetings with other players. (Katzenberg is still in charge until the deal is done and has been attending previews of upcoming films Trolls and Boss Baby. ...

Management announced Shrek 5 and Shadows to a gathering of employees some days ago. Shrek 5 makes sense, in the same way that Star Wars: The Force Awakens makes sense. Shrek has been a big franchise and Universal is going to work to kick it into high gear again.

Maximize the cash flows of the new acquisition, that's going to be the corporate mantra.

As for Chris Meledandri, execs who know him say that he likes to immerse himself deep in the nuts and bolts of a project. He likes to have long involved meetings with the olks developing and making the movies. He takes time to reflect on the options before him.

Based on those things, large seismic changes at DreamWorks Animation's Glendale campuses aren't likely to happen in a lickety-split manner.

2 comments:

F. Kousac said...

They'll rework current projects in development, close down the french studio and the U.S. studio, and produce their cartoons much more cheaply at Oriental dreamworks.

Steve Hulett said...

Okay, but that's not what Universal-Comcast is saying. And the word is out and about they're keeping the Glendale campus.

Methinks change will be slow, steady, incremental. There are movies sliding along the pipeline, even as we commiserate.

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