Friday, July 27, 2012

DreamWorks Animation Profit Guesstimates

The analysts' guesswork:

Comparing the upcoming quarter to the prior-year quarter, average analyst estimates predict DreamWorks Animation's revenue will contract 15.0% and EPS will contract 37.5%.

The average estimate for revenue is $185.4 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.25.

(EPS, if you don't know, is "Earnings Per Share.")

As we noted earlier, DreamWorks has been riding a string of hit films, and looking to expand out of its core businesses into apps, amusement parks, and television production.

So why not hybrid live-action/animated features? If Chris Meladandri and Sony can do it, Jeffrey K. can do it.


Alan Krows said...

The bankability of the "CGI Star" category of films is interesting. Certainly Sony had success with The Smurfs, moreso than Illumination with Hop. It could be that Sony's business model more lends itself to the CGI-Star idea. For any Sony feature with animation, SPA is throwing the animation work over the wall to SPI. For Hop, Illumination partnered with Rhythm and Hues, not their usual go-to outfit of Mac Guff.

It could be that DreamWorks and Disney prefer to keep things in-house and in the usual pipeline, hence the avoidance of the CGI-Star approach. Disney's only foray into CGI-Star movies is G-Force, and SPI did the animation, maybe via Bruckheimer.

In general, it looks like the less output from a big feature-animation unit a major studio has, the more the studio has gone for CGI-Star movies. Fox is an exception as it has played both ways with Garfield/Chipmunks and Blue Sky.

Since Casper in 1995...

CGI-Star Movies per Studio

-Small Soldiers (with DreamWorks)
-Rocky and Bullwinkle
-King Kong
-Incredible Hulk

-Garfield 2
-Alvin and the Chipmunks
-Alvin and the Chipmunks 2
-Alvin and the Chipmunks 3

Warner Bros.
-Scooby-Doo 2
-Yogi Bear

Columbia (pre-SPA)
-Stuart Little
-Stuart Little 2

-The Smurfs


Nathan said...

What about "Kangaroo Jack"?

Alan Krows said...

By all means, add Kangaroo Jack to the list! Another one for Warner Bros....

It's interesting that Paramount seems to have bypassed the CGI-Star idea, although they backed a few hybrid live-action/animated features: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, plus it makes sense to include mo-cap like Beowulf and Tintin (co-produced with Columbia) in the "hybrid" category.

But at least since 2006, Paramount has banked less on hybrids and more on distribution of DreamWorks big animation, which might soon end. If the deal ends, will they stick with SpongeBob and venture more into hybrids? We'll see.

Steve Hulett said...

A good case can be made that pure Mocap features don't do very well.

Mars Needs Moms

And so on.

Tintin did all right in Europe, but less-than-great here. My sense is that mocap works well coupled with live-action, but makes audiences uncomfortable (the "uncanny valley") when it's presented wall-to-wall.

Alan Krows said...


Agreed, and even the "CGI Star" variety (Hop, Smurfs) of hybrid live-action/animated features is no sure thing. Of the movies mentioned above, the following underperformed: Small Soldiers, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Stuart Little 2, Kangaroo Jack, both Hulk movies, and G-Force.

Coming around to the very interesting question you posed, "So why not hybrid live-action/animated features?"...assuming that "hybrids" includes CGI-Star, mo-cap, and the "digital backlot"/greenscreen types of film...and noting that hybrids are not always successful, even if the CGI-Star variety is the best bet among could be that audience tolerance for wall-to-wall hybrid experience is a larger risk factor than pure animation in the minds of Jeffrey K. and others. Or there might just be a comfort level with a familiar, proven process that doesn't require large amounts of live-action filming. It would be great to know such things, but perspective comes in scant, infrequent doses.

Meanwhile, the way forward for DWA looks promising but not risk-free, like all good enterprise. That may not be the most heartening outlook for those whose livelihoods are solidly tied to DWA's fortunes, but as an outside observer, it looks like optimism is well justified.

Thank you, Steve, for blogging about the business side of animation.

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