Thursday, September 04, 2014

The OTHER DreamWorks

DWA and DW used to be one, but SKG's live-action studio has long been the weak sister of the duo. And now ...

Steven Spielberg’s struggling live-action movie company, DreamWorks Studios, announced on Thursday that it would part ways with its longtime chief and named a former television executive to succeed her.

The new chief, Michael Wright, 52, will join DreamWorks Studios in early January, taking the reins from Stacey Snider, who has worked beside Mr. Spielberg since 2006 to critical if inconsistent commercial acclaim. Ms. Snider, 53, is widely expected to move to a senior movie job at 20th Century Fox.

Mr. Wright, who spent the last 14 years at Turner Broadcasting, has limited movie experience. But Mr. Spielberg joked in a telephone interview that Mr. Wright “has something I call O.C.S., which stands for obsessive-compulsive student.” ...

In DreamWorks first few years, (like the turn of the century) the live-action movies were unstoppable. American Beauty. The Gladiator. A Beautiful Mind won back-to-back-to-back best picture Oscars, but then the studio went off the rails and is today a shadow of its original self. Sad.

DreamWorks Animation spun off into its own corporate entity, and spun out sixteen straight hits before mimicking its live-action sibling and hitting choppy financial seas. At the feature animation studio in Glendale, there have been two rounds of layoffs in as many years. I walked through the facility today, and there are numerous empty cubicle. As DWA staffers tell it:

"The morale isn't near where it was a few years ago." ... People worry if they're the next to go. People with 11 years ... 14 years experience get laid off when their picture wraps." ... "The company is working to get costs down. I think there's going to be more layoffs so they can get the features down to $125 in costs." ...

I suppose we'll have to wait to find out. Just now a lot of employees are working on Penguins of Madagascar to get it ready for a Fall release. Then Home will need work. After that, perhaps more pink slips.


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