Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Katzenberg on Producing Hit Movies

The first time I met Jeffrey Katzenberg I was standing in front of a bunch of storyboards in a Disney hallway, pointing to the little drawings one by one and telling him the story outline of a mid-eighties Disney feature.

I don't think he was overwhelmed with my presentation, but the picture ended up getting made anyway. Now, of course, Jeffrey K. makes animated films full time. He was back East a little while ago answering questions about them ...

Katzenberg [was asked] how much it cost to make a Pixar-animated film compared with a regular, live-action movie.

"I can't answer for Pixar as that's made by the other D company" ... Katzenberg said the cost to make one of the Shrek movies is between $150 million and $160 million. "It's very expensive to do what we do," he said.

The investments, however, have paid off mightily. The three installments of the Shrek franchise have collectively earned $2.2 billion in theatrical realize worldwide ...

Whether you like DreamWorks Animated Features or not (I like a lot of them), what the company has done is an amazing high-wire act. It started with three guys, a few ideas, and Paul Allen's bankroll. And it's turned into a profitable brand name releasing cgi features.

Quite remarkable, when you think about it.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Remarkable ? Certainly, if you consider it from a financial point of view.

But artistically? Aesthetically? I’m not an artist, not a US citizen, I do not work in the animation industry and I don’t live in the US. So, my opinion is purely mine, and not an insider one. DW has produced the worst movies in the history of animation. Yes, there were other bad movies before, and there still will be. But DW is such an influence, because of its box office success, that it has been, I think, a major factor in the decline of the animation industry and the dumbing down of animated features (the seeds of which were already visible when Katzenberg was at Disney’s: the fart jokes in the Lion King being the better example that comes to mind). Some will argue that the awful Shrek films are embraced by audience worldwide, which says more about the general lack of artistic education than anything else.

And, please, don’t think this post is against the artists at DW: I know there are many great artists there (their 2d features, by the way, were still enjoyable) , and that they’re happy to be working in a difficult general context. But it’s very frustrating that they are not allowed to make great movies, different movies.

Anonymous said...

"the fart jokes in the Lion King being the better example that comes to mind)."

Yeah, it's a good thing Pixar doesn't do "fart jokes"...oh wait, off the top of my head 'Nemo' has an almost identical "fart Joke",(the seagulls) as the one you're referring to in "The Lion King". You want more, I could list plenty...

Tom M said...

Dreamworks gave a presentation at Calarts recently and there is a push right now to raise their movies up a notch in the story department. This is heartening, because I know there are a lot of talented people over there who are more than capable of creating an excellent movie.

It makes you question why their movies often fall a little short of greatness if there are so many brilliant people there.

Anonymous said...

tom - that is heartening to hear; though I wish they had thought of it sooner rather than waiting until after they flooded the CGI market with garbage and diluting the medium. Enough with the needless sequels (Madagascar 2? C'mon)... I do hope Monsters vs. Aliens and How to Train Your Dragon end up good. As much as I trash DW, I will be first in line to support them if they really show that they are turning the corner.

Anonymous said...

Geez, is jeffery katzemburg ever SHORT!

Anonymous said...

and bald. he is so bald. and rich, but bald. bald as a cue ball. bald.

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