Monday, December 21, 2009

The Big 59 ... And Many Happy Returns!

Jeffrey Katzenberg turns 59 today, so Happy Birthday Mr. Katzenberg. I remember when he came to Disney a few years back. Then, he was "Paramount's whiz kid," or at least, that's the word I heard about him around the studio.

He's not a kid any longer. He's cranking DWA into overdrive and seems to enjoy it.

Katzenberg is ... logging a hundred hours a week making and selling high-tech cartoons. Sleeping five hours a night, often on planes traversing 20 countries in as many days, Katzenberg is living the fantasy many of us can only dream of.

"I never felt like I have worked a day in my life," he said.

By way of coincidence, I had lunch today with The Wise Old Movie Exec. He invested in DreamWorks Animation stock long ago, and is delighted with DWA's recent performance. He told me:

"DreamWorks Animation is trading at $40, which is as high as it's been. I keep thinking that Jeffrey is working toward selling out and making himself a nice profit. That high stock price has got to mean there's something going on behind the scenes, like buyout discussions."

It might also explain the sterling press and upbeat reports out of the Glendale studio. The boys and girls have three movies coming out this year that are getting solid buzz, the stock is at an historic high, and Jeffrey has never been more into it.

Plus, if you're 59, and cash in while the company is at the top of its high-flying trajectory, you'll probably end up with a long-term employment contract from the conglomerate that purchased you.

And when the deal comes to an end in 2029, you'll be the richest elder statesman in Hollywood.


Anonymous said...

Congrats to Jeffery! Leaving Disney was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Disney is in such a bad state right now. King of the Elves has been shelved and the 2 directors and producer fired. Frogs performed horribly. Their next feature Winnie the Pooh will be another hugh loss for the company. Pooh only attracts babbies and moms. The projects at Disney are safe and kiddy, while Pixar gets to the cool fun projects.

Anonymous said...

What happened on KotE? Why did the directors/producer get fired? Lasseter on the rampage?

Anonymous said...

Looks like Pixar/Disney is suffering from a creative drowning. Dreamworks embraces more creative input from the outside than Pixar/Disney seems to do.

Anonymous said...

Some day, jeffery will be able to sit at the Adults table. When his feet reach the ground and his shiny blad head can see over the table.

Until then, he'll have to be content with playing second fiddle to Pixar--especially financially. Don't see to many dw toys or ancilliary product. People like Pixar characters better and are far more likely to bring them into their homes. And the facts speak for themselves: Pixar's film= revenue dwarfs dw.

The only sad thing is that nearly 80% of people think dw films are made by Pixar. That's just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Disney is in such a bad state right now.

2 things Ive learned in my years in this business:

1. Kicking a company when it's down is a sure fire way to make yourself look like an idiot when their next film is a huge hit.

2. I dont make enough money. (hehe)

Anonymous said...

Say what you like about Jeffrey, but he's still young and when his career does come to a close, I think he will be remembered as one of the giants of the industry.

59 said...

How ironic; when you are 59 and an executive, your "still young." When you are 59 and an artist you are ancient and unemployable.

Anonymous said...

59, you couldn't have said it better.
Right on!

Anonymous said...

That $40 stock price means it's finally getting back up to the price DWA was sold at when it first went public. Anyone who bought it at the IPO hasn't made a killing.

But it does mean DWA got every investor dollar it could scratch up at the time and I'm sure it came in handy.

Horseless said...

At current $40 a share, Dreamworks is valued at about $3.48 billion. Considering Pixar sold to Disney for $7.2 billion after grossing about $3.2 billion over its lifetime and that Dreamworks thru 2008 has also grossed about $3.2 billion, it would seem Dreamworks still has some space to appreciate if someone wants it.

The question would be who? Universal? Warners? Paramount? The latter is cash tight, but does have the distribution agreement until 2012. Figure that will start renegotiating late next year. Warners has lost so much playing in animation, they are probably gun shy...but they never had top leadership and Katzenberg is the real deal. Universal has always worked on the cheap...but now that it has new ownership???

I wouldn't expect any great movement on being bought for at least a year, but it would not surprise me that toes are being nibbled.

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