Saturday, October 01, 2011

Dreamworks .. Distribution?

Todays news headlines are a-buzz with speculation on the creation of a distribution arm of Dreamworks Animation. As its reported from Deadline:

DWA would market and distribute its 2-3 films per year, then offset those costs by doing the same for others in an era when digital distribution has made such a plan more cost-effective than paying off an outside output partner.

Mr. Hulett speculated that the relationship between Paramount and DWA was too lucrative for both parties to walk away from so quickly. According to the new reports, Dreamworks would distribute its features digitally and would attempt to offset the costs it incurred by offering the same for other "producers".

While this may be evidence of the lack of offers from other institutions to bring Dreamworks features to the public, or a careful ploy to make an unknown deal more appealing, we'll never know.

What is certain is Dreamworks Animation features bring movie-goers to the theaters and purchasing tickets. It would be a shame to see that brought to an end through lack of distribution.


Anonymous said...

This is hysterical to me only because some weeks ago one of the proprietors of was scolding me for being so naive as suggest that Jeffrey Katzenberg might find a way to self-distribute his own movies.

Steven Kaplan said...

Said proprietor may still scold you even presented with this announcement. I speculated in the post this could be a leverage-generating move on the part of Mr. Katzenberg.

One thing I do know for sure, it seems difficult to imagine DWA creating hit animated features and not being able to distribute them.

Anonymous said...

Their strategy is obvious.

Continue to distribute with Paramount traditionally. Build their own digital distribution mechanism and distribute digitally themselves.

As time goes on, traditional distribution will die and digital will reign as theatres become "digitally networked". Paramount is out of the picture, Dreamworks distributes straight to the viewer.

It's a 20-year plan.

Anonymous said...

He can scold away. The fact that this trial-balloon is plausible enough to be "leverage generating" tells me that it really wasn't all that implausible a notion all along and that just maybe... Jeffery Katzenberg may know more about the possibilities of the distribution biz than a half-owner of internet blog.

I recall in that discussion people citing Bill Plympton's and Nina Paley's difficulties getting distributed as proof that it couldn't be done. As if their product is in even the same commercial hemisphere as DWA's.

Well, scold away.

Anonymous said...

I wont bet my life on it but didn't DreamWorks (combined live-action/animation) distribute their movies in a past life? If the above is true then DWA isn't exactly coming at this with no experience whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

With all the money Dreamworks will be saving by using Indian Animators... they should have no problems distributing their own work.

VFX Soldier said...

Anyone care to inform us how those 2-3 sequences of Puss that were supposed to be done in India went?

Anonymous said...

during DW's first years when I was there, I believe Universal managed all our distributions. We were working off their backlot in 1995....Those were the best days at DW!

Anonymous said...

VFX Soldier, the truth is that the sequences that came back from the Indian studio were underwhelming, and required a lot of fixing. Not to mention that they were slow to delivery. Knowing what the actual salaries of the Indian animators are, and how many supervisors and trainers had to be sent over, I defy anyone to claim that it actually saved a single dime.

From my seat, the whole thing seemed to be a cynical ploy by a certain producer to light a fire under the animators here. Instead, it just pissed people off.

VFX Soldier said...

@ 8:21:00 PM

Thanks for the info. I've found the same conclusion come from others that work at Dreamworks.

The infomercial above gets my interest because it's simply untruthful. I'm told that those shots shown were touched by India but mostly worked on in Glendale and Redwood City.

Which leads me to this hypothesis: Technicolor is basically paying Dreamworks to train their Indian division as a marketing ploy for their services.

I've posted alot about the VFX and animation work in India that has been going on there for the last decade. It's simply subpar.

It leads

Anonymous said...

it's true the india sequences was underwhelming, and it needed fixes but to be fair it was only their first effort. I think it will only take a couple of years to some of their animators to catchup with quality of the Glendale studio, a short time for features production.
If Technicolor is paying Dreamworks, I don't know, but the animators in India are the ones winning in this supposed deal, besides they already have what matters, eagerness.

Anonymous said...

Who was the Genius Dreamworks Producer to send the work over to India?

Is he the same one thats sending the work to China?

Anonymous said...

it's true the india sequences was underwhelming, and it needed fixes but to be fair it was only their first effort.

But it wasn't their first effort. The Technicolor Indian animators have been working on DW characters, with DW supervisors and trainers, for years. They've worked on a variety of DreamWorks' projects that were supposedly of feature quality.

And if you actually talk to animators in India, you find that if they can do feature level work, they get paid serious money, or they bail and go work somewhere they will get decent pay. As soon as they get some good shots they can claim as their own, they suddenly have options, the same as it is here.

Anonymous said...

You mean they can leave the mud hut that they're living in currently, and move to the good ol US of A, and work for a UNION animation shop, and actually be paid a decent living wage?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, people in India are living in mud huts. Way to create a straw man argument. The truth is that Indian studios compete for talent the same way as happens elsewhere, and Technicolor isn't the only game in town. And it's not that hard for a talented Indian animator to find work in Europe.

The tech industry in India has been booming for quite a while, and anyone competent working in animation has seen their living standards, and salary, go up dramatically over the last five years. The bottom feeder companies are already looking to Viet Nam and elsewhere for the next low-cost labor market for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Thats great for India...really. But cant we keep the Animation jobs for American companies, here in the United States? Is that such a crazy thought?

Too bad there's nothing we can do about it.

Anonymous said...

The reason you make a movie in China is not access to Chinese animators; it's to get around China's restricted market for foreign films. If you aren't one of the few foreign films that China allows into theaters that year, the only way people will see your film is on a bootleg DVD.

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